COC culinary institute holds 2nd annual Gingerbread House Competition

Leslie Babikan evaluates one of the entries in the College of the Canyons Gingerbread House Display and Competition held in the school's Culinary arts building Wednesday night. December 04, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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Although they might be training to become master chefs, no one is above having fun with a gingerbread house competition during the holiday season.

As the semester came to a close, the College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education hosted its second annual Gingerbread House Display and Competition on Wednesday.

The event featured close to a dozen gingerbread houses, crafted either by culinary institute students or members of the public. The event, in addition to the tasty creations, featured a fundraiser for COC’s food bank program.

College of the Canyons Culinary Arts student Gina Rodriguez sits next to the elaborate Disney-inspired gingerbread house that she built for the school’s second annual Gingerbread House Display and Competition Wednesday night. December 04, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“It’s really hand-in-hand,” said Kristianne Descher, a culinary institute chef instructor. “We’re teaching them how to cook and to feed people.” Many attendees also contributed canned goods for the COC student food pantry, which feeds about 500 students per week, Descher said.

The houses, which featured everything from your classic gingerbread homes to intricate tower structures with cones, candy and frosting, took anywhere from a single day to two weeks to create, Descher said.

Last year’s champion, Jennifer Wilson, who now works as a pastry chef at Wolf Creek Brewery, said the competition stacked up well compared to last year’s. Wilson said she had not made a submission for the second annual event, but was happy to see and support the program as it continues to flourish.

The designs submitted to the Gingerbread House Display and Competition ranged from the traditional to the creative. December 04, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“You can never stop learning, so coming back means learning new tricks and trades,” said Wilson as she walked around surveying the houses.

The event featured the gingerbread creations of the students, as well as music and holiday treats prepared by iCUE students. As people were offered tours of the facility, others voted for their favorite houses, which would be awarded with a trophy at the end of the night.

Gina Rodriguez, a second-year culinary institute student, created her gingerbread house entry, which took the gingerbread house design and put a Disney-esque twist on it. Its blue paneled roof, wreath door overhang, white paneled walls and Christmas-decorated outside took Rodriguez a total of four days and countless hours of work to build, she said.

Leslie Babikan evaluates one of the entries in the College of the Canyons Gingerbread House Display and Competition held in the school’s Culinary arts building Wednesday night. December 04, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“It’s a time to get some food for the food bank and bring people together and just enjoy the displays,” Rodriguez said when asked why she not only participated in the event, but also why she volunteered. “The students, they want to show off their skills, of course, but it’s also about the program and giving back.

“We deal a lot with food,” she added, “so it just fits to give back to the food bank.”

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