Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses on A Favorite White House Holiday Tradition...With Video

A behind-the-scenes video tour of the creation of the 2009 White House Gingerbread House...and a blog post about the creation from the chef...
The White House has just released a fun new video about the creation of White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses's 2009 White House Gingerbread House. The more-than-400 pound* white-chocolate covered extravaganza is Yosses's third gingerbread house for the White House, and the biggest one ever created for White House holiday festivities. It was made with honey from the White House Bee Hive, and features a marzipan replica of the Kitchen Garden, a mini Bo the First Dog, and a shadow box view of the State Dining Room--complete with working light fixture.

Assistant pastry chefs Susie Morrison and Margie Fineran as well as master chocolatier Chris Phillips were part of the pastry team that did the construction, and they're also in the video, below. Yosses joined the White House during the holidays as a part-timer in 2006, and took over the Sugar Situation Room shortly after. Morrison is entering her twelfth year at the White House. Photos of Yosses's two previous White House Gingerbread Houses are at the bottom of this post. They're also covered in white chocolate. (Yosses, above, with this year's house)

Chef Yosses writes his very first official blogpost about this year's gingerbread house:
Each year, the White House Pastry Team comes together with other members of the White House staff to work on a favorite holiday tradition: The White House Gingerbread House. Because this project requires so much space, the gingerbread house is usually assembled in the China Room of the Residence instead of the pastry shop. Everyone from White House carpenters to plumbers to electricians lend their expertise to help make this project a success.  Weeks were spent planning out the details, studying James Hoban’s original architectural designs and blueprints, gathering ingredients and creating a time line. And then the real work begins. More than 150 pounds of gingerbread dough is made and this year the recipe called for White House Honey! After baking the gingerbread, it is cut into pieces that become the house’s foundation. The gingerbread is so thick that a band-saw is used to create the bricks for the gingerbread replica. More than 250 lbs of white chocolate is then used for everything from the adhesive to the decorative elements. The white chocolate provides the flexibility needed to create details like the rosettes and the banisters, the windows and the wreaths. (Above: Phillips, in background, and pastry assistant Jack Revelle work on the 2009 gingerbread house)

This year we have two special features. The first is a shadow box view of the State Dining Room – the room that the completed gingerbread house sits in throughout the holiday season for visitors to view. This shadow box even includes the famous painting of President Lincoln by George PA Healy that hangs over the fireplace. This room is where you’ll find the only inedible parts of the gingerbread house – the light fixtures! We also include the new White House Kitchen Garden and our favorite four-pawed friend, Bo. Both are made out of marzipan. In the garden, you’ll find baskets of carrots, eggplants and cabbage as well as other seasonal vegetables. We have such a great time planning, baking and decorating, but each year the best part is always seeing the reactions of visitors from across the country when they first see our gingerbread house on their tour of the actual White House. We hope that you’ll enjoy this video of our gingerbread house as much as we enjoyed making it. Happy holidays and best wishes for a sweet start to the New Year! (Above: The garden)

Chef Yosses's White House Gingerbread Houses for 2007 and 2008:

Yosses' first White House Gingerbread House was for First Lady Laura Bush, in 2007, when the Christmas decoration theme was Holiday In The National Parks. The gingerbread house featured woodland creatures and a sleigh on the roof of the gingerbread house, which held the Bush family's pets (above).

In 2008, the holiday theme was A Red White and Blue Holiday, because it was the election year, and Yosses' gingerbread house was a view of the North Portico, and featured a fife and drum corps, as well as the roof-top sleigh with Bush family pets. (above).

elated: Media was previously informed that the Gingerbread House weighed 390 pounds. All the details on the 2009 White House Gingerbread House are here. The recipe for Yosses's White House Holiday Honey Cupcakes is here.

*Yosses photo at top of post by Obama Foodorama; Phillips photo by Pete Souza/White House; 2007-8 gingerbread houses by Shelagh Craighead/White House