If you've gotten the gingerbread house bug this holiday season, you may want to avert your eyes. Seeing the wonder that is Chef Jonathan Klinger's Gingerbread Mayowood may cloud your palate for anything that comes after. And even strong reassurances about your work, like, "That's good honey, you really are talented," may not be enough to lift that sinking feeling. (Not that we don't still want to hear that.)
Klinger, an executive chef with Sodexo who works out of the employee cafeteria in the Eisenberg Building on Mayo's Rochester campus, put building materials of gingerbread, licorice, chocolate and icing to impressive use in his confectionery creation. His replica of the historic Mayowood mansion is at once a marvel and a temptation.
Gingerbread Mayowood has been on display in the cafeteria since last week. Klinger tells Scott Jacobson of the Rochester Post-Bulletin, who showed up the day after it went on display, that the sweet mansion "took about 50 hours to build." We didn't get a definitive answer on how many times he had to restock the raw materials.
Klinger and his colleagues were going to have a gingerbread-house-making competition. That didn't pan out, so to speak, but Klinger had already hatched his plan and went through with it anyway. He was inspired by a visit to the Mayowood mansion and a chat with Mayo's Chuck Potter, manager of Mayo historic properties. Interestingly, Klinger says he hadn't made a gingerbread house since grade school (welcome back, Chef), although he does enjoy building models and notes that he does have a way with food. He built the mini-Mayowood, which is 52 inches long by 28 inches tall, over about two and a half months, with some help from baker Jen Driscoll.
The greatest fun was in people's reactions, he says – people stop by to take pictures, someone on Facebook suggested it be preserved in a glass case, and another, who'd lived at Mayowood as a caretaker noted, "he got all the details perfect." And we understand that creating the bricks and stonework by pouring the chocolate into molds had its upside. "You have to break off the edges" when you remove the molds, Klinger says. (Hmm, what to do with the scraps?) He jokes that he "put on five pounds" while he was making his masterpiece. (It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it.)
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