Claire, 5, and Charlotte Castiglione, 10, of Center Moriches work...

Claire, 5, and Charlotte Castiglione, 10, of Center Moriches work together on a house at Gingerbread University in Riverhead. Credit: Randee Daddona

Long Islanders are starting their ovens and getting their bake on for the third annual Long Island Gingerbread and Chocolate House Competition in Farmingdale.

“Each year I’m blown away by the inventive and heavily detailed submissions,” says Christina Bisbee, owner of the Chocolate Duck, which hosts the competition. “Last year, someone built a replica of a bank in Port Jefferson. It was exquisite. Every detail was in there.”

Guests can visit the store on Saturday, Dec. 5, to see the houses and vote for their favorite display. Prizes (32-inch TV, cash, gift certificates) will be awarded at 4 p.m.

“It’s a nice tradition,” says Bisbee. “With each year, it’s getting bigger and more popular.”


This year’s theme is Victorian homes, and Jean Schapowal, 50, of Hicksville is pumped.

“I like to be challenged creatively,” says Schapowal, who took first place in 2013 with her All-American Hamburger Drive-In gingerbread structure, and her Chelsea Mansion replica tied for second last year. “I’m planning something a little different. I want to add some turrets, a raised deck and stairs coming down the front.”

For the past two years, Amy Donnolo, 24, of Farmingdale has come in second — her entry in 2013 was a Hamptons house, and last year she entered a Great Gatsby mansion.

“I want to try and step it up from last year and keep improving,” says Donnolo. “It’s important to figure out all the details before baking or putting anything together. I draw out what I want. I have stencils and cut out the dough, then bake it. It’s definitely a process.”

Last year Karlin and Julian Biederman of Great Neck tied for the youth competition. Like Donnolo, Karlin, 11, made her version of the Great Gatsby mansion.

“The roof was the hardest part because it kept falling into the house,” says Karlin. “But eventually we made it the right size.”

Meanwhile, Julian, 7, got adventurous trying to re-create a Long Island lighthouse complete with a water scene he made out of blue raspberry Jell-O and Swedish fish. The structure was lit from the bottom, creating a reflective effect.

The best part of the process for the Biederman kids was shopping for the candy that adds decorative details to their entries.

“We ate like half the stuff. It was so much fun,” recalls Karlin. “We were taste-testing. It was like, ‘Oh, this tastes good . . . let’s put it on the house!’ ”


If you want to jump into the gingerbread construction business, get hands-on by making your own house:

WHEN | WHERE Noon-2 p.m. Dec. 12 at Guild Hall, East Hampton

INFO 631-324-0806,

COST $20

Citarella Gourmet Market offers a workshop at Guild Hall, using pre-made gingerbread houses; candy and icing provided.



WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Sundays at Gingerbread University, Riverhead

INFO 631-727-7309,

COST $34.95 per house, $21.50 per cookie

Each weekend during the holiday season, Gingerbread University offers space and supplies to construct a house or jumbo 14-inch cookie (in shapes of a snow man, Christmas tree, gingerbread man); decorating workshop every hour on the hour Friday through Sunday. Reservations are required.



WHEN | WHERE Fridays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18 at Baiting Hollow Commons in Riverhead

INFO 631-727-7309,

COST $50

Unwind at the North Fork Tasting Room, where you can treat yourself to a gingerbread house-decorating session while enjoying two glasses of local vino (or beer, if you prefer).



WHEN | WHERE Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, the Chocolate Duck, 310 Main St., Farmingdale

INFO 516-249-0887,

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