During the holidays, The Four Seasons hotel is the sweetest place in Austin. It's a place where some of the most delicate, intricate and elaborate edible creations are made.
But it takes a village to create one.
“I have a team of eight people,” said Amanda Pallagi, executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons hotel. “This is our fourteenth year doing the gingerbread village.”
It’s Pallagi's tenth.
Her task this year was a tall one -- to transform the lobby into a game night, full of fun and Austin flare.
“Monopoly is a game everybody knows, so people are going to get the idea right away,” said Ana Keah, Chef de parte.
Only here it’s called Austin-opoly.
The streets, the properties should all look familiar: every detail from the posters at Waterloo Records to the pies at Salt Lick, even the Circuit of the America's (COTA) tower is completely edible.
“We've never made anything as tall as COTA. It's over two feet tall in pure gingerbread,” said Pallagi.
Austinopoly gingerbread city at Four Seasons hotel
“The most challenging thing is getting it to look exactly like the building,” said pastry cook one Annalisa Zambrano.
It takes a lot of preparation, precision and about a hundred pounds of sugar.
“The windows are sugar. We melt it down. We add color if we want to. It's just one of the many secrets,” said Pallagi.
Many of these chefs have worked 20 hours or more.
“I'm pretty proud of the bricks and the boot because I did each one by one,” said Keah, looking at the Allen’s Boots house.
But perhaps the sweetest thing about all of this is that each of these creations will help someone in need.
“We feel really good about putting in the extra hours during this busy time,” said Pallagi. “Because we know it's going to benefit Seton infusion center.”
Since 2003, this Christmas tradition has raised more than $70,000 dollars for people suffering from cancer.
“It's the best part of the year,” said Keah.
And for the next few weeks -- the sweetest place in Austin.
The Four Seasons Gingerbread Village is open to the public through December 31.
Be sure to check out the designated Santa days.