Gingerbread house wows Cayman

If you go down to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman today, you’re in for a big surprise. 

Because in the lobby is a gingerbread house created by the chefs of the facility to mark the festive season. 

Chef Ben Kallenbach said it is something of a Ritz-Carlton annual tradition. 

“This one is slightly bigger than last year because we wanted people to be able to get inside – it is about 8 feet deep and you can walk inside. First, engineering builds a plywood frame then from other gingerbread houses I’ve built a staple gun works best. 

“It is a normal gingerbread cookie recipe, but we add a little more flour and a glaze halfway through because of the humidity. It took eight days for the overnight bakers to bake all the tiles and total labour is 200 man hours just from my team.” he said. 

Royal icing with a touch of cornstarch and a splash of lemon juice is used as mortar and there are 500 eggs, 20 pounds of spices and 200 pounds of sugar used. 

“That is probably a low figure,” Mr. Kallenbach said. 

 

Touching up 

Inevitably with that much gingerbread, pieces tend to walk away, he mused. 

“The first time you do it you are upset that people are pulling stuff off your house but you get used to it. If there is a tile or some candy missing when we see it in the morning we touch it up because we plan for it,” he said. 

“Here in the lobby with the team and guests there are people who come and are interesting. There was a little girl who came a lot when we were building it so we get to talk to people about what we are doing and interact a little,” he said. 

Nancy Harrison, marketing coordinator, said the gingerbread house was always a draw to the community, who come up to visit the construction and take pictures. 

“People will come in every day and make a trip especially to see it,” she said. 

The gingerbread house will remain in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton until New Year’s Day. 

Ritz Carlton Gingerbread house Ben Kallenbach

Chef Ben Kallenbach stands proudly in front of the Ritz-Carlton’s gingerbread house. – Photo: Joe Shooman