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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: Battle Gingerbread

December 25, 2011

For those of you who celebrate today's holiday, Merry Christmas! It was quite fortunate that this year's Christmas holiday fell on a Sunday so I would get the chance to discuss the holiday happenings at Walt Disney World on the holiday the resort is celebrating. The resort is brimming with holiday cheer and festivities and foods this time of year, there was much to choose from including:

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party


Clarabelle Cow on the Gingerbread Kitchen float in the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. It smelled like freshly baked gingerbread as it floated by!

Resort Gingerbread Displays


BoardWalk Resort's Chocolate Coated and Gingerbread Gazebo


Yacht and Beach Club's Gingerbread Carrousel

With last week's article on Epcot's Gingerbread display, the plan was to continue in the Epcot neighborhood and explore its hotel resorts' Gingerbread displays. But then I thought of something better'something no guest has ever seen and probably never will see: a gingerbread'competition!

Now this past Halloween and this winter holiday season saw some cast member contests in which participants would design a jack-o-lantern or Gingerbread house. The entries would be displayed in the lobby and guests would view them and vote. At the BoardWalk Resort, we had no such contest for the winter holidays, but instead, the Food and Beverage sector of the resort held their own competition, which I learned they've done for several years now. Participants included teams of fours with members from both front of the house (servers, seaters, food and beverage cast members) and heart of house (cooks, chefs, kitchen cast members). We had teams from each restaurant (Flying Fish Caf', Kouzzina by Cat Cora, and ESPN Club) and the Board Walk Bakery. My manager was kind enough to ask me to lead the Kouzzina/Bakery Front of House team since I had pastry experience, and I was more than happy to agree to take on the role.

This year's competition was modeled after Iron Chef on Food Network and just like the show, it was incredibly nerve racking, but fun all the same. Just like the show, we had one hour to make our gingerbread structures, but the catch was we had to not only use a secret ingredient, but ALL of the decoration ingredients provided to us. We were allowed to bring our own tools and we were scored on use of ingredients, teamwork and cooperation, and overall design.


The competition Logo

My teammates included two of my cast mates from the Bakery and one seater from Kouzzina by Cat Cora. By a stroke of bad luck, only half of my team showed up, myself and my good friend Brittany. While all the other teams were present and accounted for, Brittany and I were the underdogs, so we were determined to make something beautiful and at the very least, make something!

Brittany and I decided our inspiration for our gingerbread structure was the 'seaside' view we saw everyday through the large windows at the bakery: the Light House and Friendship Boats on Crescent Lake. Out of gingerbread, royal icing, decorative edibles, and lots of focus and imagination, we were determined to make our plan a reality. I had drawn up a plan and drew out shapes and possible measurements for the pieces to our design. The decorating part would have to be thought up at the last minute as that would be a surprise.

So here, in pictures is an exciting look at BoardWalk's Battle Gingerbread!


Tthe huge screen normally for viewing the big game at ESPN Club was put to use to show the competition for Cast spectators.

Playing the part of commentator Alton Brown is Derek, one of the Kouzzina by Cat Cora managers


Our area manager Vinnie played the part of the Chairman Mark Dacascos. He revealed the secret ingredient (Cranberries!) then bit into the apple and said 'a la cuisine' at the start of the competition!


The box of ingredients we had to use: included were different sprinkles, marshmallows, gummi worms, cereal, oreos, brown sugar, and modeling chocolate.


We received 1 and ' sheets of gingerbread to cut our pieces. We did not have to use all the gingerbread, but in previous years teams received 2 full sheets.


I continue to cut the pieces while Brittany assembles the structures.


The Friendship and Light House started to look awesome as the d'cor was added. The cranberries were used for the light house's light!


Team Prancer and our finished piece! Each team was named after one of Santa's reindeer.


Can you find the Hidden Mickey? It appeared there totally by chance, I noticed it after I took the picture!

The competition was fierce as we were competing against skilled artists as well as talented amateurs. While my team did not win, I am very proud of us for the focus and concentration we put in the face of being the underdog team. While it did not come out as cleanly as I hoped and some elements were rushed (We literally slapped on the green royal icing 'grass' the last 40 seconds of the competition), with only two sets of hands, we did extremely well! An hour is not a very long time, especially when there's so much to do and I was certainly thankful we planned so much before the competition. Though we did not win, there were a lot of fun what-in-the-world did we get ourselves into moments that Brittany and I laugh about now. Though a bit stressful, I must say I had an enjoyable time making something out of a million pieces. Our managers were proud of our accomplishment and we certainly were proud to have finished with something pretty decent looking!

The winning team was actually one of the teams of pastry chefs from the heart of house at the Board Walk Bakery, but after the accolades and prize giving, the department manager was kind enough to give Brittany and I an Honorable Mention for completing a great piece in one hour with only two people.

Thank you must go out to Chef Jessi for taking pictures of the competition while we worked and also to the Board Walk Food and Beverage managers, chefs, and cast for putting all of this together. Special thanks go especially to Brittany for not only showing up, but being willing and excited to work hard and be responsive and cooperative to our gingerbread shenanigans. It was a lot of hard work condensed in one hour, but definitely a lot of holiday fun! Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year!

In case you were wondering, here are the teams structures and the winning piece:


Gingerbread Home by ESPN Heart of House Cast


Gingerbread River Boat by Board Walk Bakery Kitchen Cast 2


Tangled Tower by Flying Fish Caf' Heart of House Kitchen Cast


Gingerbread Kouzzina by Cat Cora by the Heart of House Cast of the same name


Under the Sea by Flying Fish Caf' Front of House Cast
(tied 1st Runner Up)


Gingerbread Eiffel Tower by the Kouzzina by Cat Cora/Main Kitchen Heart of House Cast
(tied 1st Runner Up)


Polar Express by Board Walk Bakery Kitchen Cast 1
(Winner)


Gingerbread Lighthouse and Friendship Boat by Board Walk Bakery Front of House Cast
(Honorable Mention)

 

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