Pat Alex



Pinecrest Bakery event also debuts new mural.

If you go to a child’s birthday party in South Florida, besides the obligatory cake, you’ll also likely be offered croquetas.

These fritters are usually filled with a paste of minced ham or other meat and are a staple at Cuban bakeries. The newly-opened Pinecrest Bakery in Key Largo is no exception, and to celebrate the beloved finger food, the bakery’s Victoria Valdes, 20, staged the inaugural Croqueta-Eat-A-Thon last weekend.

Six contestants faced off in front of plates of 15 croquetas at a table outside of the mile marker 99 bakery Saturday afternoon.

Von L. Plocki of Orlando took first place.

“It was both a delicious and exciting first experience for me,” said Plocki, 25. “I don’t know why competitive eating was something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Plocki finished nine croquetas, and for his feat, he won a speaker shaped like a croqueta, a trophy and a T-shirt.

“So I’m going home full-handed and full-tummied,” Plocki said.

Key Largo’s Mike Diaz, 58, came in second place.

How did he feel after ingesting six croquetas in three minutes?

“Full,” he said. “Those were big croquetas!”

Jeremy Yong, 40, also of Key Largo, came in third place after eating five out of the 15 croquetason his plate.

His daughter Lola, 9, was the youngest contestant.

Also competing were Jay Jagtiani, 46, of Islamorada and German Romero, 22, from Coral Gables.

Saturday’s event also featured artist Enrique Sero Cruz, who painted a mural on a wall located on the property.

Pinecrest Bakery opened in Key Largo location on Sept. 30. It is the eighth location, and Valdes said a ninth location is in the works.

(By April Applegate)

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