ROANOKE, Va. – Imagine rolling Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef and Chopped all together, but with a little holiday cheer sprinkled on top. That was the scene at the Hotel Roanoke Wednesday night as the creative juices flowed with teams vying to construct the best gingerbread house - all for a good cause.
Even with the precision of an architect, the eye of a foreman, and the patience of a Christmas angel, Brian Simmons was still puzzled as to how he ended up leading his team of co-workers at Wells Fargo in the challenge.
“I’m not sure, I have some very talented folks with me here,” Simmons said.
Their team was on the quest for the perfect gingerbread house and while the icing they used as glue may have been soft, the competition was stiff.
“I’m very proud of (our house,) I think the four of us have done a very good job,” Simmons said. “We practiced beforehand and I think that’s what made a difference.”
Nine teams packed into a ‘competition floor’ in one of the Hotel’s ballrooms, working on top of taped down trash bags to protect the carpet.
Hotel Roanoke Catering and Event Director Linwood Campbell put out a challenge and made the requirements tight - teams had just 90 minutes from start to finish.
“We’re taking people out of their comfort zone, when someone works in an office and they really don’t do a lot of construction, we want them to have fun and work together as a team," Campbell said.
The competitors are all hotel clients and spectators came to watch closely. The event itself raised about a thousand dollars for the Child Investment Partnership of Roanoke Valley, putting that teamwork out front.
“Which is what we do, we work in teams of nurses and case managers. It’s teamwork around the holiday’s, it’s just fun and it’s full of holiday spirit, it’s a great event," CHIP Roanoke Valley CEO Robin Haldiman said.
The judges had the final say, and some fared better than others. While some entries built upon solid foundations, others went risky and paid the price when their roof collapsed or spires toppled.
Team Elbit took home first place, but Simmons and his Wells Fargo team were still happy to serve, especially when it was 25,000 calories at a time.
“That’s part of our vision and goals at Wells Fargo, so volunteering for the community and giving back is what we want to do,” Simmons said.
The Hotel Roanoke is sold out for this weekend’s breakfast with Santa event benefitting CHIP. That’s when they’ll auction off the gingerbread houses to raise even more money for the non-profit.