UFV culinary instructor Sian Hurly (left), UFV electronics instructor Joel Feenstra (middle), and Coast Salish artist CarrieLynn Victor work on their award-winning gingerbread house. (Greg Laychak photo)

UFV culinary instructor Sian Hurly (left), UFV electronics instructor Joel Feenstra (middle), and Coast Salish artist CarrieLynn Victor work on their award-winning gingerbread house. (Greg Laychak photo)

VIDEO: Sto:lo artist and UFV instructors create award-winning gingerbread house

Chilliwack team wins Vancouver competition with Coast Salish design, solid recipe and laser cuts

Sitting among a village of gum-dropped, mostly European-style gingerbread houses, an austere cookie structure stands out, more distinct than its flashy candy counterparts.

The tiny home is an artistic interpretation of a traditional Coast Salish dwelling, similar to abodes that were built for thousands of years along the banks of the Fraser River and its tributaries.

This modern depiction sits in the Vancouver Hyatt Regency, where it claimed first prize in the professional category of Gingerbread Lane, an annual Christmas competition between eager foodies.

An input of ideas, collaboration, and labour were instrumental to the winning gingerbread house’s creation.

But one notable ingredient—or tool, actually—stands out in the recipe.

Joel Feenstra, an assistant professor of electronics at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), explains that the acquisition of a laser engraver by the UFV Faculty of Applied and Technical Studies sparked the idea of a gingerbread house years ago.

“I’ve been experimenting on all sorts of materials from stone to wood to antlers to plastic to bone to leather—pretty much everything.” Feenstra said. “And one of the things I’ve always wanted to do was create a gingerbread house with this because we can cut phenomenally tight cuts.”

He was sure that with his hands-on background and his new piece of equipment any structure would be possible, and very sound.

Feenstra didn’t have to walk far to find his second team member, Sian Hurley, a professional cook and instructor in the university’s Culinary Arts program.

Hurley’s durable gingerbread recipe came to the project well-tested. In a previous job she made 250 gingerbread cookies every Christmas.

“It took me three years to figure this out where it tasted good and was still structurally sound,” Hurley says. “It’s neat to see it come together in a house.”

The secret to great gingerbread: her personal spice mix and a dough that’s been aged for at least a few weeks (six years of practice with the recipe doesn’t hurt).

With materials and tools ready to go, Feenstra and Hurley still needed a design.

“We wanted something that was going to be fully representative of Chilliwack,” Feenstra said. “We didn’t want to make a gingerbread house just for the sake of it. We wanted something deeper than that.”

Feenstra was pointed to well-known local artist Carrielynn Victor, who was excited about the concept, and the group started working on the plan.

“I’ve never worked with gingerbread or lasers before so the limitations were in what the laser could reproduce from a digitally drawn image,” Victor said of the process. “I had a lot of fun going back and forth with Joel figuring out what we needed to do, how to interpret the design so that it could be read by the laser.”

She holds up a precisely carved out gingerbread tree.

“And then of course seeing them in real life makes it so real, it’s so cool.”

The resulting design is Victor’s artistic interpretation of what she knows about the houses structurally with a touch of creative flair, adding windows on the sides.

“There are some elements of what you’d find in a modern design and also what you’d find in a more traditional design,” she said.

Victor adds that the carved house posts of a man in a hat holding a paddle are an important feature of her Coast Salish design.

Details weren’t only in the engravings though.

Mt. Cheam appears in the backdrop, modeled from a photo taken of the peak from Rosedale, east of Chilliwack.

The layout was meticulously thought out as well, with the house facing the water and a Google Earth image referenced for accuracy of the inlet’s shape and contour.

Feenstra created a 3D moulded wood base, with orange flickering LEDs to emulate a fire inside the gingerbread house.

“We really wanted to make sure that this project showed that this is a home that has existed here and that this is who Chilliwack is,” Feenstra said. “To reflect that in the mountains that surround it, in the shape of the inlet … where Carrielynn’s village was traditionally from. And that Carrielynn did all the design.”

In her write up that accompanied the final product at Gingerbread Lane, Victor echoes the sense of teamwork that drove the project and the purpose behind her design.

“Utilizing oral history, graphic design, laser machining, and culinary expertise, the gingerbread house stands proud, representing a relationship of recognition and respect among craftspeople from the Fraser Valley.”

The Carrielynn Victor and University of the Fraser Valley Faculty of Applied and Technical Studies gingerbread house collaborative project can be seen along with many other edible creations at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, 655 Burrard Street. Gingerbread Lane is free and open until Dec. 28 with donations going to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Award-winning Coast Salish gingerbread house designed by Sto:lo artist CarrieLynn Victor, cooked by UFV culinary instructor Sian Hurly, and pieces cut with a laser by UFV electronics instructor Joel Feenstra. (Greg Laychak photo)

Award-winning Coast Salish gingerbread house designed by Sto:lo artist CarrieLynn Victor, cooked by UFV culinary instructor Sian Hurly, and pieces cut with a laser by UFV electronics instructor Joel Feenstra. (Greg Laychak photo)

Just Posted

Elsie Hellstrom (top left), Mary Gjernes (top right), Stan Moore (bottom left) and Evelina Walter all celebrated their birthdays this month. All photos courtesy of Brittany Siemens.
Mission seniors residence celebrates 4 centenarian birthdays this month

Special party honouring a combined 405 years of life held on Jan. 25

A Chilliwack driver’s vehicle was impounded for seven days after an excessive speeding violation. (RCMP photo)
RCMP catch Chilliwack driver doing 60 km/h over posted speed limit

The motorist was hit with a big ticket and a seven day vehicle impoundment

Abbotsford Police is investigating after bullet casings were found following a shots fired call at the intersection of Purcell Avenue and Wells Gray Avenue on Tuesday night. (File photo)
Bullet casings found after shots-fired call in Abbotsford on Tuesday

Abbotsford Police Department seeking witnesses and CCTV footage following shooting

UFV assistant kinesiology professor Dr. Iris Lesser exercises along Chilliwack's Vedder Rotary Trail with her daughter Kaia. (UFV photo)
UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic

The study suggested women suffered more than men as gyms, parks and playgrounds shut down

Hatzic Middle school has had the most COVID-19 exposures in the district. File photo.
COVID-19 exposure at Hatzic Middle

Exposure occurred on Jan. 19

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Most Read