By day, Jon Lovitch is the executive sous chef at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. But by night, he’s the creator of what has become, officially, the largest gingerbread village in the world.
With 164 separate structures that weigh in at a total of 1.5 tons, this isn’t your typical gingerbread creation.
There’s a school, town hall, egg nog distillery, pierogi store, hot chocolate brewery, and train station. Nearly 2,240 pounds of snow-like icing coat the miniature city.
“GingerBread Lane” is on display at the New York Hall of Science in Queens now through mid-January, but preparation and construction is actually a yearlong process. Lovitch has dedicated about 1,500 hours of work to the village since February, baking each individual structure separately and storing them in an empty bedroom in his South Bronx apartment.
The hard work has paid off — the Guinness Book of World Records has officially declared it the world’s largest gingerbread village.
And working on the festive project gives him a good break from his day job.
“Very little you prepare as a chef can last beyond a few days, and the products have to be as fresh as possible,” Lovitch said to Business Insider. “Stuff with [GingerBread Lane] hits the floor, it’s still used. If product breaks or has issues, I just reuse it. Also the taste with GBL is not relevant. At all. Only the smell.”
The display gets some pretty entertaining reactions from visitors, many of them small children.
“They just stare in amazement, and wonderment,” he said. “It’s pretty flattering.”
After all of that hard work, disassembling the village will be tough, but visitors who happen to be there may get a treat.
“[It’s] gutwrenching, makes you almost cry. When I go that day,I stare at it for an hour or more, just stare. Then finally force myself to tear it down,” he said. “If there’s a big crowd to take a piece home, the giveaway — it makes it so much easier.”
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