Royal treat: Co-Lin students create version of The Castle out of gingerbread

Published 9:27 am Monday, December 10, 2018

NATCHEZ — About a week ago, students of the Culinary Arts and Hotel and Restaurant Technology classes at Copiah-Lincoln Community College combined their artistic skills to create a festive masterpiece.

First, however, they had to get their hands dirty — with icing that is.

Each year, chefs of The Castle restaurant at Dunleith put together a gingerbread castle to be put on a holiday display, which is traditionally blown up with fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

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Nancy Best, the head of the HRT department, said The Castle’s manager, John Holyoak, asked if Co-Lin would like to feature their version of the gingerbread castle instead.

“I thought it would be fun exposure … for both the Hotel and Restaurant Technology and the Culinary Arts program,” Best said. “The activity promoted teamwork as well. The students had to work together and do all of the designing and decorating.”

Susanna Johnson-Sharp, head of the culinary arts department at Co-Lin, said she and a handful of students from both classes spent days putting together a castle like no other, and completely from scratch.

“We did it all, from the rooter to the tooter,” said Vanessa James, a sophomore Culinary Arts student. “From making the gingerbread and all the way through … We made pretty much everything except the candy-canes.”

The gingerbread castle stands more than a foot tall and 2-feet across, with edible details around the exterior and snow made of coconut shavings.

The students created their own gingerbread dough that would harden into a sturdy cookie and mixed up and dyed their own homemade icing to decorate and glue it together, and also create a big mess, James said.

“We had icing from head to toe and green fingers,” James said.

“I think icing was embedded in my chef coat,” Sharp said with a laugh.

The details along the roof of the castle were added on with graham crackers, and the students decorated Christmas trees to go around the outside using waffle cones to make their shape.

Sharp said the task was a new experience for everyone.

“It was the first time I’ve ever done this, and I’m their instructor,” she said. “No one in my class has ever made a gingerbread house before.”

James said the build went smoothly regardless and was actually fun.

“It took a lot of brainstorming to figure out how to do this and that, but it turned out to be very exciting,” she said. “I’m actually going to make a smaller one for my little grandbabies. It’ll be a treat.”