an exhibition of gingerbread replicas of city landmarks opened
Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn Bridge, the Bronx Zoo, the Apollo Theater and other iconic New York landmarks have been reduced in size and turned into edible replicas. Twenty-three gingerbread houses make up this year’s “Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, Time Out reports.
The exhibition opens November 10 and runs through January 15 at the Upper East Side Museum. Entrance to the exhibition is included in the total ticket price ($20 per person). Local judges awarded first-place awards, but everyone can vote for their favorite in the People’s Choice category.
The award for best overall work went to Patty Pops, who created this year’s mural celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. At their exhibit, Santa wears Nike Dunks and DJ Kool Herc provides the soundtrack for all the gingerbread characters gathered together. The gingerbread house features 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, which is known as the birthplace of hip-hop.
The team at Patty Pops created the display in just two days as the bakery was busy fulfilling Halloween orders. They finished the exhibition at three o’clock in the morning the day before the deadline, and then carefully delivered it to the museum.
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This award-winning work was the first attempt at creating a gingerbread house. Since the traditional gingerbread shape is different from regular cake pops, the bakers decided to rely on what they were familiar with: edible gold leaf, isomalt, fondant, chocolate and royal icing. “We used a lot of unconventional materials,” said Petrula Lambou-Kalognomas of Patty Pops.
Baker Arlene Chua used honey gingerbread, isomalt and royal icing to create the perfect representation of the historic town of Richmond on Staten Island. Her versions of a printing shop, a tin shop and a historic church are exactly like the real buildings.
Chua came to baking in 2016 amid the grief of losing her mother to cancer. While watching YouTube videos, she noticed a cookie decorating video that captivated her. She grabbed a Ziploc bag, filled it with frosting, and started decorating—and then it hit her. In the years since, Chua has competed in several national cookie competitions and appeared on the Food Network.
At the Gingerbread NYC competition, she won awards for having the most realistic gingerbread of the bunch and best representation of Staten Island. “They say everyone has a hidden talent, and who would have thought that cookie decorating would be mine,” she admitted.
Beginners and professionals
While some bakers like Chua are self-taught, other contestants are professional cooks. Suzanne Caliendo of Something Sugared and Mario DiBiase of SottoVoce created the visual representation of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn.
They spent 300 hours researching, making models, baking and building. DiBiase used his culinary skills, as well as his experience in construction and iron fabrication, to ensure the arch remained intact. The bakers created figures of 52 people from Brooklyn, each made from fondant, gum paste and edible paper. Brooklynites include Ina Garten, Mae West, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steve Buscemi.
“We wanted it to be educational and fun to look at,” explains Caliendo.
The competition judges were: Bobby Lloyd, CEO of Magnolia Bakery; Jonah Nye of NBC’s “Baking It”; Nadine Orenstein of MoMA; Colette Peters of Colette’s Cakes; Amy Sherber of Amy’s Bread; Melba Wilson of Melba’s Restaurant.
This is the second year the museum has hosted the Gingerbread NYC competition. In addition to viewing this exhibition, visit the “Gingerbread Alley” at Chelsea Market.
List of winners of the New York Gingerbread 2023 competition:
Most Realistic: Historic City of Richmond, by Arlene Chua;
Most Unique: 74th Street, Jackson Heights by Nishat Shahabuddin;
Good Enough to Eat: New York Hall of Science by Karen Chin;
Staten Island’s Best Borough Spirit: Historic Richmond Town by Arlene Chua;
Best Bronx Borough Spirit: Hip-Hop by Petroula Lambou-Kalognomas of Patty Pops;
Brooklyn’s Best Spirit: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch from Something Sugared’s Suzanne Caliendo and SottoVoce’s Mario DiBiase;
The Best Spirit of Manhattan: The American Museum of Natural History by Loretta Lee;
Queens’ Best Borough Spirit: 74th Street, Jackson Heights by Nishat Shahabuddin;
Best Overall Mood: Hip-Hop by Petroula Lambou-Kalognomas of Patty Pops.