HOLIDAY MEMORIES COME TO LIFE IN GINGERBREAD HOUSES
Contestants Recreate Their Favorite Hometown Storefronts for Pastry Chicago’s Contest
Chicago, Illinois (December 4, 2012) - Whether cozy or swanky, hometown storefronts are often the source of favorite holiday memories: window-shopping with friends, picking out the perfect gift for a loved one, and admiring the light displays down Main Street make for happy recollections. When that same Main Street is made out of gingerbread, candy, and frosting, the results can be even more memorable. On December 2, 2012, a dozen amateurs and students from around Chicagoland brought edible interpretations of their favorite hometown storefronts to The Drake Hotel to take part in Pastry Chicago’s Seventh Annual Gingerbread House Competition. After being judged by a panel of food professionals, the top three winners were placed in The Drake Hotel’s annual Gingerbread Village where will be on display until the end of the holiday season. The event included a demonstration by Chef Pierre Zimmermann, World Baking Champion, of The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King Colleges at City Colleges of Chicago, who made his French tribute to Gingerbread: Chocolate Macarons with Spiced Ganache.
While all the details on the gingerbread houses were required to be edible, the spectators didn’t need to follow Hansel and Gretel’s example and snap off decorations for snacks. Instead, Chef Zimmermann helped satisfy their sweet tooth with one of his specialties: the French macaron. When he is not teaching at The French Pastry School, Chef Zimmermann is at La Fournette, his authentic French Bakery in Old Town, baking breads and pastries from his home country to share with the people of Chicago. His macarons have been recognized by locals as among the best in the city and guests of Pastry Chicago and The Drake Hotel were able to learn a few secrets to making them. Chef Zimmermann incorporated holiday flavors by filling the chocolate shells with a rich, cinnamon and ginger infused ganache.
The aroma of spices filled The Drake Hotel’s regal Gold Coast Ballroom as the panel of judges weaved their way through rows of cleverly-decorated Gingerbread Houses. Chris Basil of Horseshoe Casino; Joyce Carson of City Colleges of Chicago; Pedro Gomez of Calihan Catering; Donna Martin of Angel Food Bakery; Peter Rios of Alliance Bakery; Bernardo Silva of Rivers Casino; Jennifer Templeton of Gingersnap Sweets and Such; and Jane and Roger Tracy of the Chaîne des Rotisseurs all served as judges. The entries were evaluated on the detail of decoration, the representation of the hometown storefront theme, the structure of the building, and the contestants’ professionalism.
Kelsey Sewell, originally from the south, won first place with her replica of Killough’s Music and Loan in Marion, North Carolina. Sewell cut out and hand-painted mini gingerbread guitars and displayed them behind window panes made of gelatin sheets. Second place was awarded to Deena Stovall who constructed Droste’s Jewelry Shoppe in Evansville, Indiana out of gingerbread; the jeweler is where both her engagement and wedding rings were purchased. Lynn Lullo took home third place for her interpretation of PAWS Chicago, the city’s largest no kill animal shelter where Lullo has volunteered for years. Raquel Black’s version of Country Curtains in Naperville, Illinois won fourth place. Shannon Nowicki won fifth place with her homage to Chicago’s history and favorite holiday memories by recreating her favorite building on State Street – once home to Carson Pirie Scott, 1 South State Street now houses an Urban Target. Nowicki impressively imitated its signature cast-iron ornamentation in black royal icing. All of the contestants were awarded with great prizes from KitchenAid and the grand prize included a one-night stay at The Drake Hotel with tea for two at Palm Court.
For pictures from this month’s competition and more information about Pastry Chicago, please be sure to visit www.pastrychicago.org. If you’re interested in making Chef Zimmermann’s recipe for Chocolate Macarons with Spiced Ganache, please contact email@example.com. Stay tuned for the announcement of Pastry Chicago’s schedule of events for 2013. For more information on future Pastry Chicago events, please visit www.pastrychicago.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information on Pastry Chicago, please visit www.pastrychicago.org, or contact
The French Pastry School