Holiday Housing: The Joys of Gingerbread Houses
Despite a struggling economy there’s been a sudden building boom. Hundreds of gingerbread houses are going up across the St. Louis region. And this year’s freshly constructed batch has kept builders baking and decorating throughout St Charles and St Louis. Counted among this years seasonal standouts are St. Charles Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Village and Pinnacle’s River City and Ameristar Casino’s life-size gingerbread houses. All are baked with love and guaranteed to create lasting memories long after the gingerbread crumbles.
River City And Ameristar Casinos’ Mega Gingerbread Dine-in Houses
What do you get when you combine 1300 hundred pounds of gingerbread, 325 pounds powdered sugar and countless pounds of chocolate, cookies and candy? Two life-size gingerbread houses that are large enough for a family of six to dine inside.
Life-size gingerbread houses were the original brainchild River City Casino & Hotel’s Executive Chef John Johnson and Executive Pastry Chef Stephan Schubert, who was named the 2014 American Culinary Federation’s Pastry Chef of the Year.
“As early as July we started receiving calls as far away as New Mexico from guests who wanted to make sure we were continuing the tradition,” said Chef Johnson who always is looking for a way to make River City’s gingerbread house bigger and better. “Of course, we wanted to make this year’s house even more spectacular. We’ve added a nook with a chimney that features a huge Christmas tree. My son came up with the idea of adding a giant coconut snowman.”
At River City’s sister operation, Ameristar Casino Resort & Spa, Executive Chef Chris Ipanis and his culinary team met the challenge to create Ameristar’s first life-sized gingerbread house. The result is a two-story bungalow with a dormer featuring a nine-foot-tall gingerbread man. Inside sports a fireplace and Christmas tree and is as heavily decorated as the house’s exterior walls.
Anyone can reserve the table inside either gingerbread house for a $25 reservation donation, which goes to support the “Not So Silent Night’, a fundraiser supporting the Center for Hearing and Speech, an organization that provides hearing aids for children and seniors. Each gingerbread house can seat a party up to six, and diners can reserve space for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Reservations are limited and are made by calling Ameristar at 636-940-4454 or River City at 314-388-7625.
St Charles Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Village
Traditional sized, home-baked gingerbread houses are the star attraction at the St. Charles Christmas Traditions Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Contest and Gingerbread Village. Celebrating its third year, Main Street Chapel Gingerbread Village’s theme is “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” and spotlights almost 40 gingerbread creations, which are judged and placed on display.
Jeff Breneman, who served as the inaugural contest coordinator for Main Street Chapel’s gingerbread contest explained how making gingerbread houses are an intergenerational activity. “The whole family can get together to build them,” said Breneman. “ We felt the gingerbread house contest was a great way to involve families, contribute to the community and St. Charles’ Christmas Traditions.”
Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Village is free and on display on from November 28 thru December 21 with viewing s on Fridays – 6:30 to 9pm, Saturdays – 11 am to 9 pm, Sundays, Noon to 5 pm. The village closes December 21 at 5 p.m www.churchonmain.com/gingerbread
Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett contributed to this blog.