Here’s How Everyone Wins at a Gingerbread Showdown

Nothing says Christmas like a gingerbread house design contest

It all started at the Bell Media studios behind the scenes of The Marilyn Denis Show. A casual conversation about gingerbread houses and design quickly spiraled into a full-on call to action. Not only would we build a designer gingerbread house, but it would also be pitted against another designer’s creation with the judging taking place on The Marilyn Denis Show.

Thank goodness, I wasn’t expected to work alone (I’m not a great baker!). I was partnered with the baking geniuses behind, The Rolling Pin. Not only have Vanessa Baudanza and Isabelle Loiacono proven their dessert-making chops at their excellent bakery on Avenue Road they also won first-place in Food Network’s Donut Showdown.

It takes a village to build a house

The first thing we needed was a plan. Literally. We couldn’t just show up with a standard square box with a triangle roof. We decided we needed to attempt to make a real house. Designer, David Small provided us with one of his phenomenal, architectural house plans. He’s a custom-home designer who creates beautiful, modern versions of the classic Chateau complete with peaked rooftops and lots of interesting angles.

It’s all in the details

Vanessa and Isabelle completely embraced the “almost to-scale” plan. In fact, their competitive spirit was instantly heightened and they said that no small detail would go unfinished. They would reproduce the house to perfection.

Soon we were making templates and using geometry to figure out the right angles to ensure the house could stand on its own. Once the baking commenced, the plans for the finishes started hatching. Gelatin sheets for windows, real lighting would be incorporated into the eaves, every shrub, stone walkway and brick would be recreated. Once baked and cooled, each piece of gingerbread was gently filed down to proper, straight edges.

Replication is the sincerest form of flattery

Replicas of wreaths, chandeliers, planters, stone walkway, even the wood grain on the front and garage doors came to life under their precise handiwork. No detail was left out. The back of the house exposed the interior like a dollhouse and it was furnished with “wood floors, a Christmas tree and more!

Then the competition showed up!

We were feeling confident until the day of the showdown and we met our competition… Glenn Peloso and baker, Elyse Wahle of Sullivan and Bleeker Baking Co. We were in the TV studio, assembling and finessing our creation when they walked with a festive, bright, colourful… village! It was a candy land of deliciousness. Not a corner was unadorned. Our confidence waned.

Just to keep the suspense up even longer, the judging was left to the last segment of the show, with Tommy Smythe leading the judging team. The clock ticked, we stood, waiting, Tommy said something about it being so close, practically a tie! So, was it a tie?

Finally, Tommy could drag out the suspense no longer.


Team Rolling Pin was the winner! It was a sweet victory for everyone. In fact, the gingerbread house is now on display at The Rolling Pin at their bakery on Avenue Road. It will be raffled off in-store. 1 ticket for $10.00, 3 for $20.00 The winner will be announced this Sunday and proceeds will be donated to Ronald McDonald House.

I love it when design provides a win for everyone.