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20-foot gingerbread house unveiled at Edmonton’s Hotel MacDonald

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's Hotel Macdonald is welcoming the holiday season with its annual Christmas tree lighting and signature gingerbread house. Morgan Black was there.

It’s a Christmas tradition more than 600 hours in the making.

The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald’s 2019 version of its annual gingerbread house is the largest to date, standing 20 feet high and 18 feet wide.

This year, the creation is also extra sweet.

“We thought: why don’t we curate something that looks like a gingerbread house but also speaks to our honeybees [here at the hotel]?” executive chef Mridul Bhatt said.

“We came up with this idea of doing a bee castle that still looks like a gingerbread house.”

The walls of the gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in 2019
The walls of the gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in 2019 Morgan Black/Global News

Bhatt said honeybees play a key role in sustainability for the business.

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“We have four hives at the hotel. We are producing about 300 pounds of honey every year.”

READ MORE: Renovations to Hotel Macdonald’s Confederation Lounge met with mixed reviews

Bhatt said the creation of the bee-themed gingerbread house began 20 days prior, utilizing about 20 cooks.

“[A project like this] is definitely on a different scale. Measuring the quantities of ingredients is crucial.

“You need to know where you’re going, what things look like, right from sketching it on paper. It’s a completely different ballgame.”

Some of those key ingredients include:

  • 200 kilgrams of brown sugar
  • 500 kg of flour
  • 3,100+ eggs
  • 58 litres of corn syrup
  • 65 units of molasses cooking
  • 52 litres of honey  20 kg of cinnamon

“We buy the raw ingredients, bake the sheets here, measure and cut and start assembling it ourselves,” Bhatt said.

“It looks incredible. It’s an accomplishment and when I hear the guests like it, that’s worth the effort.”

Taste of Christmas: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
Taste of Christmas: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

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Bhatt considers this sweet creation his most challenging project to date but already has big plans for next year’s creation.

“Next year we could completely cover the entire lobby. That would be like a castle within a castle.”

The walls of the gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in 2019
The walls of the gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in 2019 Morgan Black/Global News

The creative confection ties in to the hotel’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, which raises awareness for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.

“It’s been a number of years that the Christmas Bureau and the Fairmont have partnered together,” said the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton’s Stephanie Perilli. “There’s so many incredible ways the community supports us, whether it’s through donations or hosting a fundraiser.”

Friday’s ceremony was dedicated to Second Chance Animal Rescue, in an effort to help animals find homes for the holidays.

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Adopt a Pet with SCARS: Hotel Macdonald dog adoption partnership
Adopt a Pet with SCARS: Hotel Macdonald dog adoption partnership