Montage Laguna Beach takes gingerbread construction to tasty new levels

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Montage Laguna Beach’s Executive Pastry Chef Lee Smith and his culinary team have taken traditional gingerbread houses to delicious new, life-sized levels this holiday season, recreating the Main Beach Laguna Beach Lifeguard Tower in a 12-foot-tall gingerbread model of the iconic landmark, complete with a working toy train circling the upper level of the structure.

Montage Laguna Beach’s Executive Pastry Chef Lee Smith stands in front of the resort’s tasty replica of the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower. Clara Beard/LB Indy

The idea to fashion the gingerbread structure after the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower came from Montage Laguna Beach’s Executive Chef David Serus, who wanted to try something equally as impressive as last year’s display – a giant gingerbread house fashioned after the cottages at Crystal Cove. Visitors could walk into the structure, where cookies and hot chocolate were served.

The tower, located on the fourth floor in front of the Loft restaurant, took 120 hours to construct, 760 pounds of gingerbread, 220 pounds of royal icing and 20 pounds of confectioners’ sugar.

“It was quite a challenge to do it,” Smith said. “It’s 12 feet high and six feet wide. But a lot of fun.”

Construction started in mid-November, and the final structure was completed just 10 days later. Smith said after they reduced the dimensions from the real lifeguard tower, the Montage engineering team then got to work designing an internal structure to keep the gingerbread from collapsing.

“The fun part for us is to design the concept and build it,” Smith said. “Once it’s done, we’re looking forward to the next thing.”

Smith and his team are already planning a huge chocolate display in the Montage lobby for Valentine’s Day.

“That’s our next adventure,” Smith said. “Then we’ll be doing another project for Easter.”

The gingerbread tower will be on display until Dec. 27.

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