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Gingerbread house competition to help abused children

Christine Ina Casillas
The Beaver Creek Resort Company is in search of about 10 chefs to create holiday fantasy gingerbread houses Ñ a first-of-it-a-kind competition Ñ as a fund-raiser for Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, a nonprofit group that helps abused and neglected children.
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Gingerbread man, gingerbread man, chefs get ready to bring out those gingerbread pans.

The Beaver Creek Resort Company is in search of about 10 chefs to create holiday fantasy gingerbread houses – a first-of-it-a-kind competition – as a fund-raiser for Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, a nonprofit group that helps abused and neglected children.

Local chefs are invited to participate in the competition, which will be judged by professional chefs and local celebrities, said Debby Webster, CASA board chair and founder of the local branch. The winners will receive $500 for first place, $250 for second and $100 for third.



The gingerbread houses will be on display and up for bid from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Nov. 28, near the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village before the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony.

“There’s going to be a whole lot of gingerbread houses all in one place,” Webster said.



The creations will be moved to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, where they will be on display.

The competition will allow chefs to run wild with a theme for their gingerbread houses, Webster said.

“It makes the competition a little more fun,” she said. “It lets the chefs use their creativity.”



“Intensive’ baking

Baker Daniel Niederhauser, who owns Columbine Bakery in Avon, said people can spend days making gingerbread houses. Niederhauser said it takes about a month to let the dough sit and allow the raising agent to develop. After that, glazing, drying, icing and decorating begins.

“The show pieces are extremely intensive,” Niederhauser said. “But they’re one of the most fun things to do if you have the time do make them.

“There’s no limit to how you can decorate them.”

Businesses have the opportunity to underwrite construction of the gingerbread houses, and the resort company will underwrite the cost of the construction material, which includes sugar, ginger, marzipan, gumdrops and icing, Webster said.

“Chefs can partner with a business to create a house that promotes the business’s line of work,” she said.

For example, a masonry company could make a a gingerbread castle that looks like it’s made of stone and a real estate company could put a “for sale” sign on their creation, she said.

Niederhauser said he has spent days decorating gingerbread houses that included detailed doors, windows and siding – all done with marzipan.

Columbine Bakery will begin making the dough for gingerbread houses next week, he said.

Icing inspiration

Webster first heard about a gingerbread competition at a CASA conference she attended in Colorado Springs. CASA, a nationwide organization, started in 1982, and eventually expanded to Eagle County in 2000.

“The only person we represent is the child,” she said. “We represent the child’s best interests.”

The organization was started by Judge David Soukup of Seattle, who heard cases daily about abused and neglected kids, she said.

“(Soukup) was making decisions that affect these kids for the rest of their lives,” she said. “It kept him awake at night. And that’s when he started this organization.”

Now retired, Soukup works as a volunteer for the group.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

At a glance

Gingerbread house seeks chefs

The Beaver Creek Resort Company is in search of local chefs to compete in a new holiday gingerbread house competition. The event is organized to benefit Court-Appointed Special Advocates, CASA, of the Continental Divide, which helps abused and neglected children in Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear counties.

The Gingerbread house creations will be displayed Nov. 28 at the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in Beaver Creek.

For more information, call 845-5974.


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