Chimney Sweep

This life-size gingerbread home is manufactured from actual cookies and sweet!

There are gingerbread houses to look at and then there are gingerbread houses to walk into. The display at Fairmont San Francisco is so big that pastry chefs have to start baking the gingerbread in July! Oh, and yes, the house is edible.

“People go to the hotel and are not sure where the gingerbread smell is coming from. Then they see the castle and think that there is no way to be a real gingerbread house. Then they walk up to it and they see it and you they touch it and they smell it and then they realize it’s real, “said Emma Curtis, Culinary and Employee Dining Manager at Fairmont San Francisco.

To build the house, the Fairmont chefs have to bake 8,000 gingerbread bricks plus 3,500 pounds of icing and nearly a ton of candy. Then it’s up to the Fairmont painter Larry Walton to put it together.

It’s his handicrafts that bring Santa’s workshop, mechanical elves, Santa’s legs stepping out of the chimney and the train that goes around a miniature snow village to life. That year he even created a moving cable car that circled Lombard Street.

“When I go somewhere I want to see something magical. And one of the things I try to create is a magical effect. It’s a wow factor,” said Walton.

But an edible gingerbread house is too much for hungry guests. Take a close look at the two-story building and you can see where visitors peeled off gummy bears or Christmas tree marshmallows and even pieces of gingerbread.

The staff tries to replenish as much of the missing candy as possible to keep the magic alive throughout the holiday season.

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