Monday, December 24, 2018 at 12:53PM
Drew Wolfe

Gingerbread Cred: Bakers Craft Winning Edible Art Down To The Last Detail

"Nadine Orenstein never expected to judge gingerbread houses. But several years ago, the curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art happened to see a program on the Food Network about a competition in Asheville, N.C., and was intrigued by the intricate — and edible — Christmastime entries. She happened to mention the show to a colleague, who happened to know one of the judges, who happened to be on the lookout for a new judge to add to the panel."

"The rest, as they say, is history. Fourteen years later, Orenstein is still a judge for the National Gingerbread House Competition, which in November celebrated its 26th year at Asheville's Omni Grove Park Inn. 'In a way, it's very similar to what I do as a career and, in some ways, completely different,' she says."

"The biggest difference, of course, is that each entry must be entirely edible — although it's fairly rare for the judges to actually eat the sweet creations — and must consist of at least 75 percent gingerbread. Disco dust and hologram powder are permitted, according to the rules, while no entrant under the age of 13 may use hot sugar, for safety reasons. And don't be fooled by the name of the competition, because the entries are not limited to houses — dragons, pirate ships and bonsai trees are also welcome."

"When it comes to judging, however, it's the details that loom large, even when they might only measure a few millimeters. Nothing escapes the eagle eyes of the judges, from a wall that is just slightly off-kilter to meticulously hand-painted playing cards."


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