Photos by Michael Garcia.
A massive piece of sweet culinary art spans between several tables at Pumpd Nutrition SoCal in downtown Long Beach with chocolate mountain landscapes and trains that run through its tunnels.
Village architect, Issac Salgado, formerly worked in the food industry as an executive chef and is now owner of his own cleaning business Rug’it Cleaning in Long Beach.
Salgado began making small gingerbread houses for children after Jim Danno from the Willmore City Heritage Association asked him to volunteer. Over the years, those small houses evolved into the huge villages that can now be found on Pine Avenue during Christmas time.
“It’s much bigger than it has been in the past few years,” Salgado told the Post. “I always try to add a couple new attractions; this year I added another train system, a Ferris wheel, a windmill and an imitation of the construction going on around Long Beach.”
Building materials for the village aren’t just limited to sweets either. Of course, you’ll see M&Ms, frosting and candy canes but some of the gingerbread houses have roofs made from pasta, crackers and chips.
“I start shopping around for stuff I think would make a good fit to a gingerbread house; whatever I feel may look good as a shingle or door. I make bushes out of Rice Krispies and trees out of sugar cones. I look at what people do with real houses and then go from there.”
The display went up ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, and although it may seem tempting, taking a bite of the village is highly discouraged.
“I don’t really keep track of time, but I started in September and would work on the village after putting my kids to sleep at night from about seven until two in the morning,” Salgado said. “I had my kids (ages, 2 and 4) help me a bit. Everything is baked separately and takes a different amount of time. I do it because it’s fun and it’s just kind of expected now. And the scale just got bigger because that just happens.”
The gingerbread village will be on display until New Year’s Day and can be found at Pumpd Nutrition SoCal, located at 415 Pine Avenue.