Monday, December 12, 2011

Highlights of Gingerbread City 2011: Hit a Home Run for Epilepsy

Over 350 guests attended the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County’s Gingerbread City Gala on December 1 at The Grand Del Mar. Honorary Chairman Jeff Moorad, Vice Chairman and CEO of the San Diego Padres, was presented with the “Key to Gingerbread City." The theme, Hit a Home Run for Epilepsy, was an open-ended theme that challenged the gingerbread artists to create spectacular structures ranging from baseball inspirations to creative interpretations of the word "home."

Each year, the gingerbread-design competition and holiday gala attracts talented gingerbread artists, local celebrity chefs, and generous sponsors and patrons, who all join together in support of the mission to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and to prevent, control and cure epilepsy through services, education, advocacy and research.  We donated our photography services again this year.

Melody Morse won first prize in the Grand category for her Victorian Christmas.  She won last year's competition with The Tale of Despereaux Mouse World.

Victorian Christmas
Created by Melody Morse and Tiffany Morse

Melody's grandchildren inspired her this year, with their love of trains and all sorts of toys. Several of the elves resemble them - one with blond hair and blue eyes, the other brown hair and brown eyes. The theme was also influenced by Melody's love of all things Victorian, and the challenge to make something different. The string you see used throughout the structure - from the tiny baskets, horse's hair and bridle, cord for the cranberry garland, décor on the baseball, and all cords for the ornaments, was made using edible gourd strips. Rice paper dusted with corn starch was used to make the angel on the tree top, lining in the boxes, and the Christmas crackers. 

The names on the letters to Santa are a combination of names of family members. 

The fiber optic tree took a week to take apart, so she could use the internal structure. The interior trunk was covered with modeling chocolate, and the branches with dyed rice paper. The greenery on the tree was made using dyed Agar Agar, an algae noodle found at her favorite Asian food store. Soy wrappers were used to make the paper chain. The simplicity of the decorations on the Christmas tree reminded her of the way her parents decorated their trees growing up on their homestead in Alaska.

Most of the artists included some element of baseball, and it was fun to examine the structures closely to find those artistic touches.

Tiffany, Melody's daughter, carved several of the boxes using a wood burning tool and then a dremel tool. She also carved the train engine, rocking horse, lamb and toy soldier from a block of gingerbread using the same technique she employed last year for making Draco, her dragon.  She baked 1/4-inch of gingerbread at a time and then carved the large structure down to the shape and size she wanted.  

Victorian Christmas was purchased by Ron Kohn, the owner of Sprouts Farmers Market.  It will be displayed at Sprouts (Eastlake Parkway and 3rd Avenue locations, Chula Vista), and then donated to a library.

Veronica Centeno's Waterfall Home, a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, won Second Place in the Grand category.  

Waterfall Home
Veronica Centeno, Maria Gonzales, Hector Sanchez, Irene Fombon, San Ysidro Adult School


Amanda Hamilton’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas won Third Place in the Grand category.  Amanda's husband, who serves in the US Navy, was able to come home this year for the holidays, and attended the Gala with Amanda.

I'll Be Home for Christmas
Amanda Hamilton, Shelly Ceciliano, Lulu's Sweet Art

The fourth Grand structure, Changing Seasons at Kylemore Abbey, was also stunning.  Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The Community of nuns, who have resided here since 1920, have a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years.

Changing Seasons at Kylemore Abbey
Moeve Rochford, Mary Margaret Rochford, Andrew Hertel, Sugar and Scribe Bakery

In the Petite category, Rancho Grande won first place.  The details were colorful and whimsical.

Rancho Grande
Imelda Guzman, Ana Flores, Nancy Wilson, San Ysidro Adult School

Enchanted Victorian Chalet was exquisitely decorated, and represented the ultimate, fairytale gingerbread house.

Enchanted Victorian Chalet
Kathleen Lange, Confectionery Chalet

The Golden Dream
Claudia Soto, Cecilia Rodriguez, Letticia Vazques, San Ysidro Adult School

San Diego Padres
Franciois Grosjean, The Grand Del Mar

The Grand Del Mar’s signature restaurant, Addison, features Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef William Bradley.  Chef Bradley was joined by several other distinguished chefs who offered delectable bites throughout the evening.

Fresh off winning Chef of the Fest at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, Chef Daniel Barron was well-equipped with an immersion circulator and liquid nitrogen for his creation:  Duck fat and butter poached local corvina, pumpkin custard, smoke almond fluid gel, crispy Maitake nitro, and crystallized micro Thai basil.

Executive Chef Daniel Barron, Blue Point Coastal Cuisine

We were set up just outside the ballroom, with our camera and lights, and it was quite challenging running in and out with plates of food.  The chefs were very gracious in taking a little extra time to plate their dishes for the camera, and some even stepped away from their "kitchens" to run out the finishing touches and garnish.  

Chef Stephane Voitzwinkler presented this beautiful house cured salmon with local root vegetable salad.

House Cured "'Amed" Salmon
Executive Chef Stephane Voitzwinkler, Bertrand at Mister A's

Here are a few other favorite bites of the night...

Roasted Lamb Chop, Purple Mustard, Dried Cherry Spoonbread, Fried Leeks
Executive Chef Dennis Cortez, The Grand Del Mar

Seared Diver Scallop, Persimmon and Butternut Puree, Vanilla-Ginger Sauce
Executive Chef Steve Pickell, Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery

Red Wine Risotto
Executive Chef William Bradley, The Grand Del Mar

Dark Chocolate Truffle Torte, Hazelnuts, Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, Gingerbread Ice Cream
The Grand Del Mar

We took many more photographs, available for viewing on There's a Newf in My Soup's Facebook page, in photo albums.  Next year, we hope to be on the other side of the camera with another gingerbread creation of our own!

Happy Holidays!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Denise for the close-up view. I really must go to this event next year ... even if it's just to lap up that scallop!

Heather Hands said...

These gingerbread house are phenomenal. The people who made them are so very talented. Thanks for sharing!