Gingerbread contest draws pros, amateurs, families

December 4, 2018

The 2018 Rehoboth Beach Gingerbread contest was held Nov. 24 at Epworth United Methodist Church. The contest was divided into professional, adult, nonprofit and family categories. The professional category was judged by a panel of experts. Amateur winners were selected both by People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice. 

A team of four culinary professionals from SoDel Concepts sealed the win in the professional division. The team consisted of Danielle Panarello, director of operations; Ronnie Burkle, corporate chef; Dru Tevis, corporate pastry chef; and Maggie Cellitto, chef at Matt's Fish Camp in Bethany Beach. Panarello and Tevis are both trained pastry chefs. Panarello took first in last year's professional division.
Their entry, SoDel Christmas Village, covered almost an entire banquet table, and its height was as impressive as its area. The village was split into north and south by a river of blue sugar, with a representation of the Indian River Inlet bridge complete with cable superstructure spanning the water. As an added challenge, contest rules require that all parts of the entry, with the exception of the base, must be made from edible materials.
The amateur adult category was won by Linda Schultz, a retired civil engineer, and Theresa Walton, a retired art teacher, both of Lewes. Their entry, God is Love, featured a traditional church complete with stained-glass windows. This entry claimed a People's Choice Award as well.  Second place in the adult category was won by Nancy Trunzo of Lewes. Third place went to Nancy Brooks of Rehoboth.
The family category was won by Michele McClave, Tom King, Zoe King, 9, and Sam King, 6, of West Fenwick. Their entry, The Holly Jolly Reindeer Ranch, also won the People's Choice vote. In second place was Addison's Bakery by Meagan Seksciski and her daughter, Addison, 4, of Bishopville, Md. The third-place winner was A Cozy Christmas by Laura and Jared Dye, Lincoln, 6, and Lucy, 3, of Selbyville.  All contestants plan on entering the contest again next year.
The event also included Breakfast with Santa, a cafe serving lunch, a quilt show and sale, and an outdoor train display provided by the Delaware Seaside Train Club. Event organizers were pleased by the number of people who attended the fledgling event and are making plans for next year.
Bob Yesbek, The Rehoboth Foodie, and Greer Maneval served as judges for the contest.  Accent on Travel was the presenting sponsor. Other sponsors included Daria Horn, aka The Cake Lady, CAMP Rehoboth, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty, Iron Hill Brewery, Cape Gazette, Coldwell Banker Resort Realty, and Snyder's Candy of Rehoboth. All proceeds from the event will be used to help families in need in the Cape Henlopen School District.
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