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Hotel pastry chefs create tasty village out of gingerbread

CARLSBAD — Pastry chefs at Carlsbad’s Park Hyatt Aviara Resort showed off their skill and creativity this holiday season with the construction of an entirely edible winter wonderland — the hotel’s third annual Gingerbread Mountain Village display.
Executive Pastry Chef Franck Riffaud led the creation effort, guiding a team through nearly three months of preparation, baking and assembly of the 10-foot village, which is currently on display in the hotel’s lobby.
“Kids love it and the chefs love making it; it’s just gorgeous,” hotel spokeswoman Sally Stirnkorb said. “It is a mountain structure every year, but they always design different houses for the village.”
Park Hyatt Aviara’s Pastry Shop set the village in the Gingerbread Mountains, reminiscent of the French Alps, and overlooking Peppermint Valley, Stirnkorb said.
Each gingerbread house was given a story as unique as its design — Frosty’s Boulangerie serves “sugar and spice and everything nice,” while Santa practices his chimney climb at the Stone Cottage, “once the home of Jack Frost.”
“I really like all of the houses, especially this one,” Carlsbad resident Katie Kremer, 4, said of Comets’s Candy Shop. Five-year-old Addison Allin added, “My favorite are the penguins. They are all over!”
The chefs utilized many materials — some that might surprise visitors — to craft the village. Starting with 22 pounds of gingerbread dough, 300 pounds of icing and 18 pounds of chocolate, the chefs added shredded wheat, chocolate covered pretzels and gumdrops to the display.
“Every year I’m anxious to see what new ingredients they come up with,” Stirnkorb said. “I’ve been up here a couple of times to look at it and each time I do, I find something new and interesting that I like.”
Carlsbad residents and hotel guests have made a point to visit the Gingerbread Mountain Village since its placement in the lobby just after Thanksgiving, Stirnkorb said.
The display coincides with Park Hyatt Aviara’s annual Festival of Trees silent auction that benefits the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and Teddy Bear Tea, an event where guests can bring a teddy bear to afternoon tea for donation to a local hospital.
“We do have people come here just to see the Gingerbread Village and the trees,” Stirnkorb said. “We have a lot of people ask us to take pictures of them in front of the displays for their Christmas cards; it creates a fun family tradition and that’s what I really like about it.”
The Gingerbread Mountain Village and Festival of Trees will remain on display at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, 7100 Four Seasons Point, until Dec. 28.