The third annual Simcoe County Gingerbread House Contest was a sweet success on Saturday.
Esteemed celebrity judges and winners of multiple international baking contests, Beatriz Muller — the grand prize winner of the Food Network’s Gingerbread House Contest in 2018 — and Teresa Araujo — who won the Food Network’s The Big Bake in 2021 — lent their expertise to the judging panel, which included the Rotary Club of Innisfil’s president, Susie Parker, and Innisfil Arts Council's chair, Sydney Hardie. The event, held at the Lakeshore branch of the Innisfil IdeaLAB and Library, included a craft and bake sale.
The four judges were tasked with deciding the winners of six categories: Adult hobbyist, child baker, team entry, people's choice, library adult class and library children's class.
“The entries were really, really nice. Fabulous,” said Muller. She noted that children and adults alike were very creative with their gingerbread house entries.
A gingerbread homage to Banting Memorial High School in Alliston — which is supposed to be replaced after more than seven decades in the community — won second place in the team entry category. Muller hopes that its gingerbread counterpart will inspire others to compete in years to come.
“It's awesome," she said. "Maybe (they’ll be) competing against each other, you know? Maybe the colleges or any culinary school or pastry school that is around (will be inspired to compete) because it brings the skills.”
“It was such a delight to see so many entries and the effort they put into it,” Araujo said.
She explained that it was a beautiful experience to see the research and planning that went into each gingerbread creation, as she wants to ensure that the craft continues.
“Because it is a craft, a beautiful craft … we don't want it to get lost," Araujo said.
“The ... contest, hosted by the Rotary Club of Innisfil, once again proved to be a sweet affair,” said Mayor Lynn Dollin. “The quality of this year’s entries was amazing and showed incredible talent and creativity. So much time and effort went into creating these marvellous gingerbread houses ... congratulations to all the winners.”
The winners are:
First place: Mariam Karabit
Second place: Christina Braun
First place: Iris McAlpine
Second place: Odin McAlpine
First place: Lori Luciano and Amy Mercer (they also won the people’s choice award)
Second place: Brittany Harding accepted the award on behalf of the team
Library, adult class:
First place: Linda Becic
Second place: Dorothy King
Library, children’s class:
First place: Rachel Jeffery
Second place: Emma (surname not provided)
Prizes included classes with Muller, a KitchenAid mixer, a Nespresso machine, gift cards for Rod’s Esso, Wing’n It and President’s Choice, in addition to a HackLab basket, crocheted goods, and a kitchen tool set.
Several local businesses and community members sponsored the event.
“The talented participants were in great form again this year with incredible designs. We had a bake sale and were happy to have over 200 people attend the event throughout the day. Santa arrived and the children had a chance to take pictures and let him know that they had all been very good this year,” Parker said. “Nineteen local vendors attended and showcased their crafts and services as part of our Maker-Fest during the event. We would like to thank our generous sponsors, the amazing staff at the library, the judges and the participants who put so much time and effort into building the amazing gingerbread creations. We had wonderful feedback for the event and look forward to hosting it again next year.”
Whether experienced or novice bakers, gingerbread enthusiasts are encouraged to contact the Rotary club in the new year for more information on the next contest iteration, as planning begins in January. Check out their website to learn more.