What do 102 lbs. of prepared gingerbread dough, 36 lbs. of icing, 22 lbs. of candy, and 8 lbs. of cotton batting make? Add a pound of glitter, several hours of volunteer labor from your local high school students, 112 very animated children put to the task of decorating, and you’ll find what has to be one of the most impressive gingerbread villages this side of the Rocky Mountains. The Mammoth Mountain Gingerbread Village is now currently on proud display in the Sierra Room of the Mammoth Mountain Inn through Christmas Day, and, it’s worth checking out.
The Mammoth High School Culinary Arts Class teamed up with MMSA Executive Chef Marc Mora to build a very colorful and lively gingerbread cookie village. It started with the blooming relationship that Mora has created with the local high school. He sees the Culinary Arts students as a great source for not only sharing the secrets of delectable success, but bringing a few of these very students up to Mammoth Mountain to work either in a paid capacity as assistants to the Mountain’s Food and Beverage Department, or, simply, to allow the students to partake in fun-filled volunteer efforts such as this traditional holiday masterpiece. On the ground level, this project began with three days’ worth of rolling, baking, and cutting cookie material to put up the walls and roofs for the village. Inside the classroom kitchen of Mammoth High School, that’s five periods a day, of no less than three students per period, getting their hands well-floured.
According to Mora, the idea “was born from working with Trish Qualls and her Culinary Arts program. Trish brought so much creativity to the day-to-day classroom, and the students really enjoyed seeing projects from start to finish. They took pride in the finished project. What better way than to take an idea, bigger than anyone thought could come together, show how to take all the moving parts, and put together something bigger than the imagination?”
The Christmas creation includes 45 houses. Thirty are a part of the scene found at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. The high school gets 15 to decorate for themselves, and display at school. As Mora observed, “Everyone loves to bake, and baking is cooking. Whenever Trish’s class had baking projects, they jumped ‘all in’ and really enjoyed it. So the students made the gingerbread dough, rolled it out, and along the way, we all discovered the best way to do that. We cut out houses and baked the pieces. MMSA Culinary brought production practices to these young artists, and they put the sweat equity and their passion into it.”
MHS Culinary Arts Educator Trish Qualls readily agreed with Mora. “The best part of the experience for me was that it started with my students, who are part of the community, then went to the Mountain where there was continued involvement with our partners, and they came back to the community full circle.”
What’s next? As Mora is already looking ahead, still savoring every cinnamon and spice moment of the process, he stated, “It takes a village to raise a child. We will continue to invest in our future by bringing more topical practices to the school. Working with Trish Qualls and her curriculum, through the process of interactive teaching, we will work with seasonal products, both produce and meats, make pasta, hopefully work on large projects such as the Mammoth Cross Country Marathon lunch. Our main goal is to piggy back off of the creativity of the cooking that Trish Qualls and the MHS Culinary Arts program is instilling in these students. We want to augment the education in Culinary Arts that is being instilled at MHS.”
No better time than now to grab a cup of hot chocolate at the Mammoth Mountain Inn and admire what happens when a community’s heart comes together.