There are gingerbread houses you can look at, and then there are gingerbread houses you can walk into. The display at Fairmont San Francisco is so massive, pastry chefs need to start baking the gingerbread in July! Oh, and yes, the house is edible.
"People walk into the hotel and they are not really sure where the smell of gingerbread is coming from and then they see the castle and they think there is no way that can be a real gingerbread house, and then they walk up to it and they see it and they touch it and they smell it and then they realize that it is real," said Emma Curtis, Culinary and Employee Dining Manager at Fairmont San Francisco.
To make the house, Fairmont chefs need to bake 8,000 bricks of gingerbread plus 3,500 pounds of icing and nearly a ton of candy. Then it is up to Fairmont painter Larry Walton to put it together.
It is his tinkering that gives life to Santa's workshop, the mechanical elves, Santa's legs kicking from the chimney and the train that goes around a miniature snow village. This year he even created a moving cable car that goes around Lombard Street.
"When I go somewhere I want to see something magical. And one of the things I try to create is a magical effect. It's a wow factor," said Walton.
But an edible gingerbread house is too much for hungry guests. Take a close look at the two-story building and you can see where visitors pulled off gumdrops or Christmas tree marshmallows and even pulled off bits of gingerbread.
The staff tries to replenish as many missing candies as it can to keep the magic alive throughout the holiday season.