Tasty fundraiser helps needy

December 1, 2010 9:00:00 PM PST
Beyond the towers of fresh produce, the Elephant Heart Japanese Plums and the Roma Tomatoes, deep in the heart of the Umstead Spa and Resort's kitchen, you'll find Daniel Benjamin.

He's one of the chefs who took part in this year's 8th Annual Gingerbread Benefit for Triangle Family Services, and he's cooking up quite a creation.

"My goal is for it to look more like a model lighthouse that someone wouldn't know necessarily is gingerbread," Benjamin explained.

He's been slaving away for hours at a time.

"This is a project we will be working on for two weeks," he said.

First, he had to decide what to build. He settled on "Old Baldy" - the lighthouse at Bald Head Island. Next, he began creating the dough.

"For gingerbread house construction, I don't use a traditional gingerbread," Daniel explained. "It has all of the flavors of gingerbread but it's more easy to work with."

After baking, Benjamin cut out the frame and cut and applied hundreds of tiny little bricks.

"It's one of those things. It's fun building it. It's fun designing it. You do get tired of it after awhile. Some parts can be very tedious," he said.

Benjamin is one of several prominent pastry chefs in the area who put on a show at the event Thursday at the Umstead Hotel.

"We believe the holidays are about families and especially about children," said Umstead General Manager Jim Beley.

"We think it's a great celebration of gingerbread homes and celebration for the children and they can see all of the creativity and the chefs around the triangle," he continued.

Last year, Triangle Family Services served 7000 people, 80 percent of whom were below the poverty line.

If you'd like to learn Benjamin's secret to gingerbread, click here for his recipe.

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