About $200 worth of gingerbread, $60 worth of gum, hundreds of gumdrops, dozens of candy canes, pounds of royal icing and a real watch were just some of the items used to create replicas of notable Concord landmarks.Embassy Suites Charlotte-Concord/Golf Resort & Spa has held an internal gingerbread house competition for six years. The five structures replicate the Historic Cabarrus Courthouse in downtown Concord, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s main entrance, Concord Fire Station No. 1, the John Milton Odell house and the W.B. “Will” Archibald house.The public and hotel guests can view the buildings in the lobby of the hotel and vote for their favorite. The winner gets paid time off.The display went up after Thanksgiving and will be taken down New Year’s Eve. Employees had three weeks to construct their buildings.Chuck Cobb, the hotel’s executive sous chef and organizer of the event, said it’s possible the contest could one day expand beyond hotel doors to include residents. He hopes at least 10 creations will be featured next year but hasn’t decided on a theme yet. This year’s theme allowed out-of-town employees to learn about the area, he said. “The guests love it,” Cobb said. “Someone from Michigan actually found out about it on our Facebook page and called to see how long they were going to be up so she could come look at them.”Pitfalls and adviceKeeping the structures stable and safe from the humidity created by a nearby fountain are just a couple challenges. Unforeseen structural mishaps, and misfortune in general, are other common hurdles. Corry Robbins, a banquet cook, spent about 65 hours on his replica of the John Milton Odell house, which was named after one of Concord’s leading industrialists and the first owner of the nineteenth-century home. Unfortunately, Robbins broke the finished product while loading it into his car and spent another 20 hours on repairs.A friend of Robbins who studies architecture and design at UNC-Charlotte used real blueprints of the historic home to draw up a gingerbread design to scale. Robbins used a butter cake for the roof, Rice Krispie Treats dyed green for bushes, candy canes for columns and windows made from pulled, caramelized sugar that are enhanced by a working light inside. “The whole thing was a major undertaking, to say the least,” Robbins said. “The number of total exterior pieces is somewhere in the line of 35 to 40 pieces of gingerbread.”His advice to beginners is to start small; adding a basic box could take about 10 hours, including planning, baking, cooling and decorating.“Almost anyone can pull off something, as long as they don’t go too big too fast,” he said. “Putting a basic one together is not that hard, but the more complex you get, the more time you’re going to invest.”Foundation is keyDesmond Kiser created a colorful version Charlotte Motor Speedway, which he passes regularly on his commute from Charlotte to the Concord hotel. “It’s not necessarily a historical building, but I built it for what it represents for Concord and what it brings into Concord and the Charlotte area,” he said. “I went with the candy mostly for the Christmas theme but also to try and make it more colorful for the kids.” He has participated in almost every contest since it started and spent less than 10 hours piecing together his structure. A few years ago he featured the inside of the speedway, which garnered second place.Kiser agreed with Robbins that building gingerbread creations comes with challenges.“The foundation is the hardest part,” he said. “The difficult part is setting the base and getting everything measured and pieced together and making sure when you bake it, the dough doesn’t shrink on you, bubble up and all that. But once you get the basics down, decorating is the easy part.”
Friday, Dec. 21, 2012
Gingerbread house competition features Concord landmarks
Hotel’s gingerbread house competition features Concord landmarks
Lois Bollinger and her daughter made the W.B. “ Will” Archibald House, a Colonial Revival-style home built in 1908, using construction paper, 20 pounds of Gingerbread, five pounds of royal icing, four pounds of wafers, 20 pieces of butterscotch for the windows, spaghetti noodles for the railing on the front porch, coconut pieces for the snow and Rice Krispies and food coloring for the bushes and wreathes.
Terry Crawford, general manager at Embassy Suites, said the feedback on this year’s popular landmark theme has been positive. “People talk about them consistently,” he said. “Customers may not know where the buidlings are, but it kind of gives visitors a sense of our community.” The roof of the W.B. “ Will” Archibald House is covered in wafers and powdered sugar.
Corry Robbins reconstructed the John Milton Odell house using about 60 pounds of gingerbread, five boxes of Rice Krispie Treats, five pounds of pulled sugar for the windows and $60 worth of chewing gum for the siding. He even added a light on the inside.
Desmond Kiser used about 30 pounds of gingerbread, four pounds of gum drops, five pounds of royal icing and three pounds of crushed pecans for his rendition of Charlotte Motor Speedway's main entrance.
Ron Freitag used 20 pounds of gingerbread, eight pounds of royal icing, four boxes of candy for doorways and windows, four boxes of Rice Krispie Treats and two packs of Nutter Butters to create Concord Fire Station No. 1. He invested about 20 hours on the project.
The Concord Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Concord is remade in sweets, including the roof, shown here.
Chris Mallars pieced together 52 pieces of gingerbread to build the 30-inch-tall Historic Cabarrus Courthouse. He used five pounds of Rice Krispies, four pounds of royal icing, 100 chocolate chips and a working watch for a clock in the tower. The project took him about 42 hours.
A working watch was placed in the gingerbread replica of the Historic Cabarrus Courthouse.