The Museum of the City of New York is showcasing the baking talents within the five boroughs of New York City through its first-ever gingerbread competition and exhibit.
“Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off” will be available through Monday, January 8, 2023. Participating bakers created gingerbread structures that resemble their respective New York City neighborhoods. His creations also fit with the baking theme, “Winter in New York.”
According to Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director and President of the Museum of the City of New York, her colleagues began brainstorming over the summer about how to put together a fun, family-friendly holiday exhibit. The idea was also inspired in part by a similar exhibition also on view called “Food In New York.” Bigger than the plate.”
“We thought a gingerbread installation would be fun,” Donhauser said. “The fact that we’re representing New York City and thereby highlighting some small businesses as well as hobby bakers across the city, it was just a fun way to have fun and healthy competition. It’s something we New Yorkers could put all our creative energies into.”
The museum conducted the talent search for “Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off” via social media and email. “What was great is that we really got the kind of entrants we were looking for,” Donhauser said, referring to family-owned businesses and hobby bakers.
Participating bakeries are Bruno’s Bakery in Staten Island; Egidio Pastry in the Bronx; L’Appartement 4F in Brooklyn; and Sans Bakery in Queens. The hobby bakers are Sherry Kozlowski, a Queens resident; Ida Kreutzer, who lives in Brooklyn, and John Keuhn, who lives in Manhattan.
Bruno’s Bakery is a family-owned bakery that has been in business on Staten Island for over 40 years. Your pageant creation embarks on a gingerbread journey through Staten Island, known as the “Park District.” The exhibit includes notable venues such as the St. George Theatre, which opened in December 1929.
Kuehn designed a gingerbread recreation of Madison Square Park, featuring replicas of the Flatiron Building and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in a winter holiday setting. He was a professional architect and architectural designer before he decided to act on his passion for baking and cooking during the pandemic. He has launched a platform called “New Bake City”.
“I just responded to an Instagram post from the museum that came across my feed… And I thought, ‘why not’!…, and that was it,” Keuhn said, also in the press release. “I applied and was surprisingly accepted!”
A hobby baker who enjoys building and creating edible art, Kozlowski has traveled the country competing in baking and food contests. He has also appeared on Food Network’s “Bakers vs. Fakers” (2017) and “The Christmas Cookie Challenge” (2018).
For this challenge, Kozlowski represented his neighborhood block by featuring some of his favorite stores in Astoria. His display of apartments and store fronts are all built in gingerbread with details made of fondant, gum paste, isomalt and candy.
“With the holidays approaching, I did a quick internet search for gingerbread contests near me,” Kozlowski said. “I was so excited to stumble upon ‘The Great Borough Bake-Off at the Museum of the City of New York.’ After reading the article, I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring.”
The “Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off” required entrants to follow size constraints and criteria such as not only adhering to the winter theme but also designing their creations to represent their communities, neighborhoods or districts. Everything on top of the base of their entrees was to be made up entirely of edible materials.
“What’s great for us is that you have some iconic New York buildings and tributes in this competition,” Donhauser said, “from the Flatiron Building to the Staten Island Ferry, you can’t get more New York than that.”
Even the competition judges represent the best of the New York City baking community. They include Bobbie Lloyd, CEO and Bakery Director of Magnolia Bakery; amy scherberg, owner and founder of Amy’s Bread; Nadine Orenstein, judge of the National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, NC and Drue Heinz Curator in Charge, Department of Drawings and Prints at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Melba Wilson, owner of Melba’s restaurant; and Colette Peters, owner of Colette’s Cakes and author and teacher of cake decorating.
“We felt like we were at the perfect time where we could attract some really great New York jurors and participants to join us in this whole effort,” Donhauser said.
Prizes were awarded in various categories. They included “Best District”, “Good Enough to Eat”, “Hell in the Details”, “Grandest”, “Only in New York”, “Sweetest”, “Overall Best”, and “Toughest”.
The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd Street. For more information, visit their website.