Gingerbread Village-Maker Goes to Town with 300 Pounds of Powdered Sugar

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Photos by Asia Morris. 

Master Gingerbread House Maker Isaac Salgado has done it again. And by “it,” we mean spending nearly 300 hours carefully creating and constructing very possibly the largest gingerbread village you’ll see in Long Beach this holiday season. Last year, Salgado built “the best dang gingerbread house in Long Beach,” which was displayed at DOMA in downtown. 

Located at MADE in Long Beach, the mountainous sugary wonder was truly a labor of love, created to promote an upcoming event planned by the Willmore City Heritage Association (WCHA), its fifth annual Winter in Willmore, to take place on Saturday, December 19, from 1:00PM to 5:00PM at Drake Park.

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Each gingerbread house takes about 10 hours from start to completion, including the baking of the gingerbread, the decorating and the assembling (and the shopping for ingredients). Salgado took on the project toward the end of September and finished, finally, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

“This year we used about 300 pounds of powdered sugar alone,” said Salgado. “Everything is edible except the train, the grass it’s sitting on and the wood frame itself.”

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According to the gingerbread craftsman, the most difficult parts of the process include knowing how to temper the chocolate and getting the temperature of the sugar just right. If either of these edible elements are too hot or too cold, the pieces will refuse to harden or will crystallize, creating an unwanted texture and an unstable structure. The biggest challenge, however, is making sure that the gingerbread itself can support hundreds of pounds of candy and icing for two and a half months.

“You have to get the icing at the right consistency, the sugar at the right consistency so it can actually hold up for two and a half months,” Salgado said. “It’s been at MADE since the Monday before Thanksgiving, and it’s holding up very, very well. We plan to keep making it bigger every year… We’ll see how far it goes.”

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The seven-foot-long, seven-foot-tall village at MADE is the second largest gingerbread creation Salgado has painstakingly constructed. Before he started his own business, Rug’it Cleaning, he worked for a country club with a team that spent weeks laboring over, let’s say, a full-on gingerbread city, measuring over 20 feet long and nearly 20 feet tall. Salgado couldn’t shake the gingerbread house-making tradition and continued the artful practice for the Long Beach community.

As a board member of the WCHA, Salgado said he will be attending the Winter in Willmore event to show kids how to build and decorate their own gingerbread houses.

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“I do a lot of food art,” he said. “Food carvings, ice carvings and of course, gingerbread houses and things like that so I want to make sure everyone understands that they can have fun with food.”

The gingerbread village at MADE will be up until the first week of January, so don’t forget to stop by the local Pine Avenue boutique before it’s taken down. 

The Willmore City Heritage Association (WCHA) is a local nonprofit committed to preserving and improving the Willmore City Drake Park neighborhood. For more information about the fifth annual Winter in Willmore event, click here

MADE in Long Beach is located at 240 Pine Avenue.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.