Pumpkinnovators: From Gourds to Ghouls

By Suzanne Woolley - 2013-10-25T17:14:06Z

Photograph by Ray Villafane/BMUSA/Getty Images

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The Pain of Competition

Some years Villafane has carved four or five pumpkins; other years it's been 75 or more. The average in recent years is 30 to 40. Want a pumpkin custom-carved? If he and his team have time, a generic, somewhat cartoony face could set you back $1,000. A likeness of a particular person could take an entire day to complete and run double that. 

After taking part in -- and usually winning --competitions on Food Network Challenge shows, Villafane's fingers "are usually riddled with dozens of small paper-cut-like slices and incredibly sore for days." So after spending so much time around pumpkins, can he bear to eat the stuff? "The smell of pumpkin never stirs up my appetite. The only thing it does is get my mind going on creative ideas of what to carve and what not."