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After Three Years, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota Has Brought Back Its Massive Gingerbread Display

The tradition was paused during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it's back this year—and includes 400 pounds of gingerbread.

By Lauren Jackson December 1, 2023

The triumphant return of The Ritz-Carlton's gingerbread display.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota has brought back its more than 20-year tradition of building a large-scale gingerbread display for its lobby. The gingerbread extravaganza, which first began in 2002, just over a year after the Ritz opened, was put on hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic—but it's back in full force this holiday season.

This year’s gingerbread display, which is called Santa’s Gulf Pole Workshop, is made with a staggering amount of ingredients, including 400 pounds of gingerbread, 350 pounds of dark and white chocolate, 300 pounds of fondant, 250 pounds of royal icing and 100 pounds of candy. And while the interior framing of the gingerbread house is not edible, the rest of the display is made with food-safe materials.

“We are very excited to unveil our gingerbread display,” says Mark Sherwin, the Ritz's general manager. “We’re excited to share one of our culinary creations that does a fabulous job of showcasing the expertise of the ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton.”

Executive chef Yann Chupin (left) and The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota's pastry team.

The structure took more than 600 hours to create, and the initial brainstorming for the project began all the way back in June.

“After our brainstorming sessions, we work with an engineering team to build the structure," says executive chef Yann Chupin. "As we progress, they start framing, and in the last few weeks we’ve been making the gingerbread and figures. “The detail work on the figures is amazing and requires much specialty work.”

Handmade edible elves, at work in Santa's workshop.

Handmade edible elves, at work in Santa's workshop.

Santa and Mrs. Claus inside The Ritz-Carlton's gingerbread display.

Santa and Mrs. Claus inside The Ritz-Carlton's gingerbread display.

It's hard to imagine the scale of the gingerbread display without seeing it in person. The house measures 12 feet tall and 11.5 feet long, with a four-foot depth. Familiar figures, like Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as working elves, are visible through the display’s window panes. Each figurine has its own name and many were made in the likeness of fellow pastry team members.

“One of the best parts is when we see the little ones coming through the door to check in. They’re immediately attracted to the house. It’s magical and we are so pleased to have it back,” Chupin says.

Guests, residents and locals are invited to visit the gingerbread display throughout the holiday season, and with the Ritz’s vast holiday offerings—including breakfast with Santa and a Christmas Day Grand Ballroom brunch—there are plenty of opportunities to see it.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is located at 1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota. For more information, call (941) 309-2000 or click here.

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