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The Giant Gingerbread Contest

The Giant Gingerbread Contest

Michael Donahue | The Commercial Appeal

Using chocolate for concrete, sugar and water for glass and gingerbread for shingles, chefs at The Peabody built a 6-foot house in less than eight hours.

They took home the $10,000 prize for winning the “Giant Gingerbread” contest on “Food Network Challenge.” The episode premiered Sunday and airs again at 7 tonight.

“I never want to see gingerbread again,” said Reinaldo Alfonso, chef de cuisine at The Peabody’s Chez Philippe restaurant. Alfonso was a member of the team lead by Konrad Spitzbart, executive pastry cook, and Elaine Jones, lead pastry cook at The Peabody.

Someone at Food Network asked Roger Pelcher from Memphis if he knew of any gingerbread house builders, said Kelly Earnest, The Peabody director of public relations. Pelcher was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world record holder for making the largest gingerbread house – 67 feet tall.

“He said, ‘Well, I saw this article in The Commercial Appeal,’” Earnest said. “And that’s what brought them to Konrad.”

The challenge was to build a 6-foot-tall gingerbread house in eight hours and decorate it in a holiday theme.

“They sent us an outline and the rules,” Spitzbart said. “Then we had to come up with a sketch.”

Usually, Spitzbart begins working in September on the large gingerbread house for The Peabody lobby. That one, which is on view in November and December, takes 21/2 months to build.

The chefs had to bring just about everything because the studio kitchen included only a refrigerator and mixer.

“There was a certain amount of work they allowed you to do here (including) the baking of the gingerbread,” Earnest said.

The chefs planned their strategy.

“We started throwing ideas at each other,” Alfonso said. “Some were knocked down. Mostly mine. We just sat here and came up with a rough design.”