One of the best things about the holidays at Mohonk is the Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition. And in a typical year, we have hundreds of guests who visit for the day to see the amazing creations. But in this Covid world of 2020, we’ve adjusted by featuring a group of All-Star Gingerbread Competitors whose work has wowed us in past years. And their entries this year are just as amazing as ever!
Overnight guests at the Mountain House can see these masterpieces in person through the end of December. And everyone else can view them all online. Once again, we are also fundraising for the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley—this year, we are hosting an online fundraiser, and we hope you will contribute—from those who do, 10 lucky winners will receive $100 Mohonk gift cards. And all of the money raised will go to feed the hungry in our region.
You can see videos of each of the six creations our All-Stars submitted HERE. And while you’re there you can vote for your favorite—voting ends 12/23, so be sure to get your vote in soon. On the same page, you’ll see information about our fundraiser.
For the first time in our competition, we featured a theme—Victorian Holidays, to complement our own holiday décor and Victorian era origins. And this year, we’d like to take you behind the scenes and introduce you to the competitors themselves, so you can see in-progress photos, hear their thoughts about the process, their inspirations, challenges, and more.
MEET THE COMPETITORS
LIZ & ANNA BLACK
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
This is Liz & Anna’s fourth year participating in the gingerbread competition. Dickens’ classic Victorian tale, A Christmas Carol, served as inspiration. “We have so many hours of fun planning and executing our piece,” they say. And we can see why. Anna created each fondant sculpture by hand (characters, bed linens, food, candles, rug, and so much more), and shaded them with edible dust. Liz planned the architectural aspects and built the gingerbread panels and the other gingerbread elements (bed, nightstand, chimney, etc). One of the reasons Liz & Anna love the competition is to see what everyone has created on gingerbread day. And we love to see their work, too! Enjoy some in-progress photos from “A Christmas Carol.”
BRUNK BUILT—KEVEN & JESSYKA BRUNK
A “PICTURE PERFECT” CHRISTMAS
Keven and Jessyka are in their fourth year of the gingerbread competition. They were inspired by Grandma Moses’ paintings of New England towns and landscapes, designing their piece to mimic a painting or postcard, using size and perspective to create the tableau. One of the more challenging aspects of the conception and construction involved perspective—using the layering of flat architectural elements to create the illusion of three dimensions and depth of field. This year, Keven and Jessyka tried a new technique, making silicone molds from real rocks and then utilizing the molds to create stones from gum paste, hardened and cut to size. They airbrushed with food coloring, and crafted the stained glass windows and frozen pond using isomalt. They painted a landscape background to tie together the overall design.
GEORGE & MARYANNE MUSCOLINO
HERE WE GO A CAROLING
The Muscolinos have competed through all five years of the Hudson Valley Gingerbread Contest. They have been crafting gingerbread houses together for more than 25 years, giving them to soup kitchens, their grandchildren’s schools, and in the last few years displaying them in the children’s department of their local library. They chose carolers outside a Victorian home as their inspiration, and George’s homebuilding background proved handy for figuring out how to structure the complicated roof lines. Maryanne chose fondant over sugar for the decorations, deciding that ease of travel would be key. She made over 500 fondant “slate” tiles with a small cookie cutter, and 400 more tiny tiles for a gazebo roof. Their biggest challenge was the windows, which had to be done twice—when the weather grew humid and warm, the original windows melted! The final windows cover the melted ones.
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS HOUSE
Rachel Hunderfund is competing for the third time in the Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition. She loves creating her masterpieces at home and then experiencing the fun tension of the drive to the Mountain House, hoping nothing breaks apart. She chose a three-story Victorian-style house for her design with stained glass windows, featuring a brown gingerbread front and an open back providing a view of white inside rooms. The rooms are inhabited by an abundance of felines, crowding around the Christmas tree, and perched on beds and chairs by the tables. For the construction, she found the inside stairs to be the toughest challenge. For her details, she utilized icing, gum paste, and modeling chocolate. She made the little creatures from modeling chocolate and gum paste.
CLASSIC VICTORIAN MANSION
Brendan is entering his fourth Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition and enjoys coming up on the day of the event to meet new people and explore the Mountain House. He was inspired by his vision of a Victorian house all decorated for Christmas. He built the structure from gingerbread, and used food dye to grey the walls. His windows were made with isomalt, and he gave them a frosty effect on the inside to achieve the sensation of a cold-weather holiday. Trees and shrubs were constructed with Rice Krispies Treats and icing, and he made the railings and pillars with white chocolate. His main challenge was creating all the tiny details like the grain on the chair or the texture of the walls, to give the mansion as realistic a look as possible.
A VICTORIAN FABERGE EGG
This year is Lisette Lucas’ second in the Gingerbread Competition. She loves the time spent creating, the excitement at the drop off when she can see what everyone else has made, and the chance to enjoy a day at the Mountain House. Her inspiration came from watching the documentary Faberge: A Life of Its Own. She decided to craft her own Faberge-like gingerbread egg. She found her greatest challenge was taking a simple concept and creating enough intricate details to yield a truly impressive effect. She utilized gingerbread, Rice Krispies Treats, fondant, royal icing, sprinkles, gold leaf, and edible color markers. The result is almost a trompe l’oeil effect: perched on a table in the Grove Parlor of the Mountain House, her Victorian Faberge Egg resembles an exquisite element of Mohonk’s décor, and it almost takes a second look to realize you’ve happened on one of this year’s gingerbread masterpieces.
We want to thank this year’s All Stars for gracing us with their amazing creativity, and we encourage you to donate to our Food Bank of the Hudson Valley fundraiser and vote for your favorite gingerbread masterpiece HERE!