AUSTIN, Texas — It is one of Austin's longest-running traditions. The Four Seasons attracts families every year with its whimsical, sometimes very realistic and entirely edible gingerbread village.
This year's creation is a global show-stopper.
“It's by far our largest village yet,” said executive pastry chef Amanda Pallagi-Naim. She has been part of these creations for nine years.
“This year we are doing Austin and her sister cities,” she said. “There are 13 but we are focusing on five.”
Angers, France; Oita, Japan; Koblenz, Germany; Saltillo, Mexico; and Adelaide, Australia, are alongside Austin – each city with its own unique flavor.
“We put the most important things that each city has individually,” she said.
The research and crafting began four months ago and requires more than 100 hours to complete. No detail is too tiny and it's all edible. Crushed graham crackers make up the dirt.
Nerds candy forms the fans in DKR Stadium and Matthew McConaughey smiles on the scoreboard. The cactus trees are made from hand-rolled frosting, and even the cherry trees are made from grape sticks.
“Keep the sticks then dip in chocolate, and I have Rice Krispies that I paint with pink color,” said Ana Keah, chef de partie.
PHOTOS: Edible gingerbread village features Austin and its sister cities
It takes 150 pounds of gingerbread and 100 pounds of powdered sugar to create this village, but perhaps the sweetest part is that it benefits a local charity, People's Community Clinic.
“It helps people in our community get healthcare that's needed and essential, and we've already raised $8,000 alone for them,” said Pallagi-Naim.
The finished creation makes its way into the lobby to be topped with handmade domes, designed to look like snow globes.
“It's a little scary putting the domes on top of the tall buildings – makes my heart beat a little faster,” she said.
From the art to the architecture, to the food and the creatures, the hope is this village takes you on a journey around the globe.
“You just learn so much from other places,” said Keah.
You'll walk away with a little slice of Austin and a bigger taste that when the world comes together we all benefit.
You can visit the gingerbread village between now and Christmas Day free inside the Four Seasons lobby.
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