23 Dec2013


Every Christmas for the past 18 years, we have made a gingerbread house/castle/barn/ church/city block/log cabin/etc. creation in our home. It is a family tradition, I suppose, though for the past few years I assumed that that holiday’s gingerbread creation would be our last. This year, with everything going on post-earthquake and post-storm, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t manage to get a gingerbread structure up. But the Teen was determined to keep up the tradition… so for the first time since she was born, this year’s creation is all hers… from design, to planning, baking, assembly, decorating, etc. — this is the Teen’s first major holiday gingerbread creation. And what a “debut” — as it sits proudly in the entry foyer of our Zubuchon Escario Central branch, for thousands of diners to enjoy during the holiday season 2013.


I am pretty OC or AR, but the Teen’s preparations beat me by a mile!!! She researched on-line for a suitable castle to serve as the inspiration for her mountain “aerie”. She then sketched all of the “panels” of gingerbread required, measured and scaled to size!


She built little 3D scale models with yellow pad legal paper and scotch tape, to ensure that it looked right.


And she worked with her chief contractor (my Chief of Stuff) to build the styrofoam base for the castle. All of this started in mid-November, at the height of our storm relief efforts — with a goal to get it up and fully decorated by the beginning of December!


The castle was assembled in styrofoam form on our office conference table…


…the Teen cut out the pieces of gingerbread, which thankfully, were mostly rolled out for her by one of the commissary cooks with muscle. Rolling is the most difficult task really and I find I am too old (or my back not up for it) to flatten serious amounts of gingerbread dough. It helps that we have a four-deck oven in the office commissary, so baking went much faster than it does in our home with a single oven.


Each panel was decorated with a fine icing tip and lots of royal icing. I do NOT have a STEADY hand, so she did most of the piping… and despite my warnings that such a design was hand numbing… she perservered and got it done.


The individual panels were left to dry overnight, then attached to the styrofoam base the next morning.


By early afternoon, the large castle was loaded into the back of our vehicle and gingerly (pun intended) transported to the Escario Central branch less than a kilometer away. Every bump on the road threatened a massive earthquake-like effect on the structure.


At the restaurant, the gingerbread house was placed on a “carved” mountainside setting.


And father and daughter tandem rushed to decorate the base and get this all set up before the next dinner rush. There is something so incredibly comforting about traditions such as this… and I can say with certainty that daughter has inherited the gingerbread mantle and is welcome to do them annually from now on. :)


The main structure of the castle was left unadorned with candy.


But on either side of the hill, the village cabins were gaudily decked in all manner of sweets. They were completed by folks in our main office, so they each had a character all their own… we took to naming them… the OFW from Italy, the loud karaoke singer, the smuggler’s retreat, the local doctor’s home… :)


The Teen taking a bubble tea break, admiring her handiwork thus far…


…but the truth is this kind of undertaking takes a LOT of people to complete, and her our restaurant managers, construction handyman, chefs, waiters, etc. help to get the holiday tableau all finished.


The village homes were fantastic as well, and extremely colorful. I am sure they will feature in a few young kids’ dreams this holiday season. Guests come and inspect the gingerbread display closely, often touching, sometimes removing candy, but always with a smile and expression of delight or awe. It is incredibly heartwarming to watch them from afar.


The Teen did a few final touch-ups with an icing piping bag…


…and voila, her gingerbread castle, circa 2013! If you are in Cebu or visiting during the holidays, you may want drop by our Escario Central branch to see it. It will be up until Three Kings in January, after which it will be removed to make way for the Sinulog celebrations 2014! Happy Holidays!

P.S., Many, many thanks to all of the Zubuchon office staff, kitchen crew, branch staff and our own private crew for assisting the Teen on her debut piece. She couldn’t have done it without you!



  1. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    BRAVO to The Teen (or is it The Lady now) and all the supporting cast. I always enjoy a glimpse of it whenever I drive past zubuchon.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 8:33 am


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  3. JB & Renee says:

    I saw this in person on a trip to Cebu last month. Awesome job by the teen! :)

    Dec 23, 2013 | 8:38 am

  4. ami says:

    The small houses are so colorful. It’s a good thing that this is displayed in the Zubuchon branch so more people can see and enjoy it.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 8:39 am

  5. marilen says:

    What a wonderful passing-on of the Christmas DNA!

    Dec 23, 2013 | 9:17 am

  6. Natie says:

    The Teen, AKA Architect! A labor of love! Could rival that the White House’s annual gingerbread house Christmas display!

    I’m trying to guess which gaudy house is which.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 9:31 am

  7. besYS says:

    Ang ganda-ganda!!!
    Your daughter is so creative and pretty too! **hello Teen!**
    Thanks for showing this to us! :-)

    Dec 23, 2013 | 10:49 am

  8. Bubut says:

    the teen has grown so fast.. what i remember from her is when i attended the 2nd eyeball at gourdo’s, she is so small then…Congrats Teen for the successful Christmas Ginger bread house.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 11:03 am

  9. Elaine says:

    Splendid work by the Teen!! Cheers as well to the crew who helped her set this up! Bravo!

    Dec 23, 2013 | 3:33 pm

  10. Sarah says:

    Very festive! The Teen and crew did a great job.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 4:26 pm

  11. Lojet says:

    Awe inspiring! Great teamwork and a successful debut for the Teen. Congratulations.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 6:36 pm

  12. Andrea says:

    Congratulations! Merry Christmas to you and your family, MM.

    Dec 23, 2013 | 9:26 pm

  13. kristin says:

    with exact scale and precision! :) YEY! congrats to the Teen for a very nice gingerbread tableu…

    Dec 24, 2013 | 1:24 am

  14. Epicron says:

    MM, rolling out cold dough is damn tedious. specially if it’s laminated yeast dough.

    Maybe its time to invest in a good dough sheeter/roller to make things a lot easier. And since you already got a four deck oven (is it capable of making steam?), why not make lechon croissant (yea..overkill) and sweet lechon danish? Hehe…

    Advance Merry Christmas Marketmanila Community!

    Dec 24, 2013 | 2:18 am

  15. Chinky says:

    A fther’s is most evident in the post for such an awesome job!

    Merry Christmas to your me yours and the entire MM crew!

    Dec 24, 2013 | 7:26 am

  16. Eva Mondragon says:


    Wishing you a very happy Christmas, and a heartfelt thank you for all the wonderful things that you have done to those who are in need and less fortunate.


    Dec 24, 2013 | 9:02 am

  17. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    In the parlance of my high school dragon boat team…’dude, that’s siiiick’ (adult translation: good job!)

    Dec 24, 2013 | 11:03 am

  18. shiko-chan says:

    gorgeous work! congratulations to the Teen and the Crew (i assume that warrants capitalization as well!), and to you on raising such an excellent craftsperson! clearly it’s in the blood ;)

    Dec 24, 2013 | 6:41 pm

  19. Ceci says:

    Whoa! Congrats to the Teen and the Crew. What a fantastic job!

    Dec 24, 2013 | 10:42 pm

  20. det says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and the Zubochon Crew!

    Dec 25, 2013 | 8:11 am

  21. Mike De Guzman says:

    AWESOME! kudos to your daughter and her crew!

    Dec 25, 2013 | 1:48 pm

  22. millet says:

    woooow! congratulations to the Teen…great work! she certainly got the right DNAs ;-) (just wondering…how do you manage to get ants and other cooties off the goodies, MM?)

    Dec 25, 2013 | 10:12 pm

  23. Dragon says:

    And as they say down under: good sh*t! Merry Christmas to all!

    Dec 26, 2013 | 9:10 pm

  24. mini says:

    I have been waiting for this post. Kudos to The Teen and the rest of the team. Happy Holidays, Sir.

    Dec 27, 2013 | 3:37 pm

  25. bagito says:

    Excellent job, Teen! MM, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you and your family and entire crew even more blessings (and sharing) in the coming year. Your kindness and compassion serve as an example to us all. Mabuhay kayong lahat!

    Dec 27, 2013 | 9:26 pm

  26. corrine says:

    Beautiful! Yes, traditions should be carried on by the next generation. I’m sure the Teen will.

    Dec 28, 2013 | 3:31 pm


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