A total of 14 teams, made up of four students each, wolfed down four of Qdoba’s 18-ounce vegetarian burritos in hopes of landing a place in the final round of the contest next Tuesday. The fastest team in Tuesday’s final round will win an all-expenses paid trip to Mexico.
Harvard will be represented by ‘Team Marvel’—Kenneth I. Brewer ’11, Morgan T. Pope ’11, Philip M. Ngo ’12, and Brandon J. Hopkins ’11—who consumed their burritos in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Matthew D. Thomas ’09—who said his team participated last year with lackluster success—was back this year to win.
“Last year we were good, but amateurs,” Thomas said. “This year we have a team of professional eaters.”
This year, Thomas also shared with his team his secret of eating burritos quickly. “Don’t chew or bite; just swallow,” he said.
Alexander P. Douglas ’09-’11 said that while the grand prize was enticing, he participated in the contest primarily for the thrill and the free burrito.
“I ate at Qdoba in preparation,” he said. “I averaged around two minutes a burrito in practice.”
Douglas, who recruited his team two hours before the contest after being “cut” from another team, finished his burrito in one minute flat.
Most participants saw the contest as a free dinner.
“It just looked fun, I really like Qdoba burritos, it was a free Qdoba burrito, and I was really hungry,” Elizabeth A. Miranda ’11 said. “I honestly wasn’t really watching the other team at all.”
Boston University student Yevgeniy M. Maksimenko, a certified EMT, was present at the contest for safety reasons.
“You know, they’re eating under pressure, and there’s always a possibility it’ll go down the wrong pipe.”
Francisco Diaz, who has been regional manager of Qdoba for five years, has attended every Rice and Bean Pot contest.
“It’s gotten very intense, with people coming in to practice for two or three weeks beforehand,” he said. “Harvard’s seen the biggest growth in teams, starting with just four teams five years ago.”
Macnamara G. De Oliveira, general manager of Harvard Square’s Qdoba, pointed out that participants in the competition were largely male.
The winning Harvard team will compete in Tuesday’s finals with teams from Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern.
—Staff writer Shan Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.