ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – This year marked the 30th anniversary of the National Gingerbread House Competition, held each year at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.  

John Cook is the Executive Pastry Chef at the Inn and is one of the judges of the competition.

“It’s a great time to see all the family, the kids, and everybody come together. You see competitors that come in as young as 5 or 6 years old and they’re just so pumped to be here.” 

With entry categories covering everyone from children to adults, all gingerbread lovers get a chance to show off their abilities. While, technically, playing with their food. 

”We always look for different things: creativity, use of the ingredients. It has to be 75% gingerbread, it has to be 100% edible.” 

The hotel also gets in on the act, by selling items such as gingerbread cookies, hot chocolate and gingerbread beer out of a life-size gingerbread house in the Great Hall.

”Everything is 100% edible, it’s made of gingerbread, you’ll see here we used food coloring to get different hues of our gingerbread dough to kind of mimic the rock after our hotel.” 

”People will walk right by it, it’s such a ginormous structure that they don’t even realize that it’s edible and it’s real, but the kids find the candy.” 

”I come out daily with a triage kit we call it, and I’ll replace gum drops, malt balls, and little gingerbread stuff here and there…and I’ll go throughout the hotel and kind of touch up what I can for the competitors.” 

Inspired? Here are some tips from John to better build your own holiday house. 

”My advice is to do a lower temp oven, lower to dry it out as much as you can.” 

”Start off with a simple design, make sure your template is good.” 

”How you glue it together, having the right thickness of royal icing is really going to play a part in your frustration level in how you enjoy yourself.” 

”And then of course have fun with it. If you’re not having fun with it, then you’re not going to be able to be creative.” 

Our changing December weather can play havoc with a gingerbread house, whether you’re a rookie or an expert. 

”Humid, rainy weather comes in and the gingerbread will soak it up like a sponge, and then it gets soft and it will break. And then it gets cold and it contracts, and then it pulls itself apart.” 

Hopefully, not until after you’ve had the chance to enjoy the holiday houses. 

All entries will be on display at the hotel through January 2. Hotel guests can view it anytime; everyone else can view the display Mondays through Thursdays. For more information, click here