Back Bay High student takes the pie-eating trophy
English teacher Joel Flores, right, reacts after winning the faculty and staff pie eating contest at Back Bay High School in Costa Mesa on Tuesday. Contestants were only allowed to use their mouth to finish a pie. (Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)
The students and staff of Back Bay and Monte Vista high schools huddled around a single table in their outdoor lunch area Tuesday. Heads shifted from side to side, then up and down as spectators tried to get a better view of the spectacle before them.
It was a battle between faces and food. It was a challenge for hungry appetites. It was the school's highly attended pumpkin pie eating contest before the students and staff break for the Thanksgiving holiday.
In addition to serving the students slices of pumpkin pie during Tuesday's lunch period, Back Bay and Monte Vista held the culinary competition for students, teachers and administrators.
It is an event that the Costa Mesa school has put together for multiple years in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Assistant Principal Michael Wagner said.
The face-off began with one round of pie-eating for five teachers and administrators. Wagner was among the contenders. But in the end, English teacher Joel Flores emerged victorious.
"I told every single one of my students I was going to win," Flores said with a laugh. "And I'm not usually a competitive person."
The second round was for six students. The crowd of students and staff around the pie-eating table grew larger for this next round.
As the six contestants took their seats and placed their hands behind their backs, teacher Tracy Camarano served them the pies.
"Ready, set, go!" she yelled. The pie-eating was on.
Among the mouths and noses smeared with whipped cream and crust crumbs, student Francisco Ruiz reigned supreme in the second round.
The final showdown was between Flores and Francisco.
The two sat directly across each other at the table. Once Camarano yelled "Go!" hollers erupted from the crowd.
Flores and Francisco chewed and gnawed their way to the bottom of their plates. Francisco lifted his face up first and revealed his empty plate. He had won it all.
"I really thought Mr. Flores was going to beat me," Francisco said. "Every time I looked up, I saw him eating more of his pie."
This is Francisco's first year at Back Bay. The student said his favorite Thanksgiving foods are stuffing and pumpkin pie.
After the two wiped their faces clean and walked back into the classrooms, Flores pointed to Francisco.
"There's always next year," Flores said to him. The two smiled.
During the lunch, students also got the chance to write notes about what they were most thankful for and post it on a Thanksgiving sign hung up by the lunch tables.
One note read, "I'm thankful for my family who helped me through the tough times."
Another said, "I'm thankful for my education."
Back Bay is a continuation school with around 200 students enrolled, while Monte Vista offers independent study to approximately 100 students currently. Both are housed on the same campus and are in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.