Special materials are going into the most colorful New York real estate development: 3,550 pounds of royal icing, 700 pounds of candy and 600 pounds of dough.
That’s what Manhattan chef Jon Lovitch needs to build a gingerbread village complete with houses, trees, a skating rink, a hotel and even an underground subway station.
Lovitch holds the Guinness record for the world’s largest collection of gingerbread houses. And he’s now going for another record – competing against himself by assembling 1,020 new ones before Thanksgiving.
He’s been busy building since January at his Bronx home, where “the kitchen and dining room look like Betty Crocker came in and went psychedelic,” he said, laughing. “It’s pretty insane.”
On Thursday, he was at the New York Hall of Science in the Queens section of the city expanding the 2.5-ton, 480-square-foot village he designed, baked and built.
“I’m challenging myself, but I’d welcome other challenges if someone else in the world is doing this!” the chef said as he carried an armful of houses to add to the saccharine property he calls GingerBread Lane.
He transports the fragile items in his car trunk, on their sides and cushioned on a blanket.
Lovitch was recognized by the 2014 Guinness World Records for last year’s production – 157 houses. So far this year, he’s made 900.
The public will get a first look at the village on Friday, displayed on a circular platform under a skylight that brings sunny weather to the uninhabited community.
“My village is designed to look like ‘the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,’” he recited, quoting Clement Clarke Moore’s famed children’s poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
A plexiglass barrier will keep children’s fingers away from the enticing clusters of gingerbread architecture.
Independent inspectors are to evaluate it and report to Guinness.
To be eligible, every ingredient must be edible. But the zany lineup doesn’t come with a nutrition label because it’s not meant to be eaten.
The nearly 5,000 pounds of self-funded ingredients could fill a truck. Lovitch buys them wherever they’re cheapest. At $1.19 a pound, sugar in Pennsylvania beats the $2.29 he encountered in New York.
He’s not paid for what he calls his “passion.” Now 39, he made his first house when he was – well, a sweet 16.
Lovitch earns his living as executive chef at Manhattan’s famed Algonquin Hotel where Dorothy Parker once ruled over her literary Round Table. Lovitch is planning the hotel’s Thanksgiving menu, with 60 of his gingerbread houses for decoration.
GingerBread Lane will be dismantled on Jan. 11 and given away on a first-come, first-served basis, plus to children with special needs.