The holiday decorations inside the Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley are, in a word, lavish. The gold tinsel and two-story Christmas tree, however, merely accent the main focus of the grand lobby year after year: a life-sized gingerbread house designed by Stein Eriksen’s creative culinary team.
Originally devised by pastry chef Ray Lammers 12 years ago (who has since moved on to the Montage Hotel), the gingerbread house legacy lives on with current Executive Pastry Chef Ann Giles. And though the house's theme changes from year to year, Giles is clear on one consistency: “The gingerbread house has to be huge and fantastic.”
This year, the engineering and structural blueprints were based on the animated film Despicable Me 2, a trending topic that was popular among the hotel’s youngest guests this summer. Over the course of three weeks, Giles and two assistants measured, mixed and baked the construction materials necessary to assemble this year’s Minion mansion. It made its lobby debut in early December, complete with a working disco ball for a dash of interactive zest. “I’m all about the whimsical elements,” says Giles. “I want it to be something a little kid looks at and their face lights up.”
Held together by a few liquid nails, the gingerbread house isn’t entirely edible, but it certainly comes close. This is, after all, a five-diamond hotel and restaurant where even the tableside condiments are made from scratch. So, it’s no surprise a lot of care (and sugar) goes into each piece. But exactly how much sugar? Chef Giles doesn’t waste any time in rattling off numbers:
250 lbs. of sugar used in icing for the roof
75 lbs. of sugar used as grouting
30 lbs. of fondant to create the Minions
5 batches of gingerbread, each batch producing roughly 30 lbs. of dough
“Kids love it,” says Giles. “Put that much sugar in front of them and they get really excited,” much like Hansel and Gretel. In fact, for the 10th anniversary of the candy house, Chefs Giles and Lammers collaborated on a traditional-style gingerbread house large enough for children to walk through. “I had to spend a few hours everyday fixing the damage from kids’ bite marks,” Giles recalls.
For children who just can’t resist their sweet tooth, Giles and Executive Chef Zane Holmquist will host two gingerbread house classes at Stein Eriksen Lodge on Sunday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 29 from 4–6:30 p.m. The class is $60 and includes homemade hot chocolate, gingerbread panels, icing, candies and instruction. To register, call the Stein Eriksen Lodge concierge at 435-645-6460.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, 7700 Stein Way, Park City