During Denver’s first substantial snow fall, six Johnson & Wales University students were tucked away in the kitchen at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel hard at work on their creations—made entirely out of gingerbread. As part of the first annual Gingerbread Takeover competition, contestants were asked to craft one of Denver’s iconic buildings and landmarks solely out of gingerbread, icing, and candy decor.

Over the course of three days—December 6–8, from 1–3 p.m.—contestants worked with the Sheraton’s chef Scott Skomal, pastry chef James Kanavy, and the rest of the culinary team. They created a design, baked the gingerbread, constructed their structures, and topped it of with finishing touches of candy.

Judging began at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon in the Sheraton hotel lobby, where all the gingerbread creations were unveiled to the public. Judges included Skomal, Kanavy, Sheraton’s sous chef Nick Gunnerson, Marriott executive chef Jean-Pierre Marechal, and Johnson & Wales’ dean of culinary education, Jorge de la Torre. The final works were judged based on the contestant’s execution of design, cleanliness, use of time, and professionalism. The first-place prize of a $1,000 scholarship was awarded to Stephanie Gaines who recreated the Daniels & Fisher Clock Tower on the 16th Street Mall. Mackenzie Parker took 2nd place, with a prize of a pastry toolkit, with her sweet rendition of Mile High Stadium.

All the gingerbread buildings be on display as part of a larger exhibit in the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel lobby through December 31.

Sarah Banks
Sarah Banks
Sarah produces, photographs and researches the photography in the print edition of 5280. In addition, she photographs and writes for 5280.com.