The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC held its highly anticipated Annual National Gingerbread House Competition recently, including 200 entries from over 22 states and Guatemala. Contestants spanned across adult, teen, youth and children categories all competing for a chance to win a piece of more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

This year’s winners, the Difficult Dessert Devotees were a niece and aunt baking duo from North Carolina, and it was their third year competing and first time winning the competition. The furthest traveled competitor was Beatriz Mejia who traveled 4,234 miles from Guatemala to participate in this year’s competition.

The historic Asheville property brought back six honorable Chef Nicholas Lodge Awards, introduced last year and renamed in loving memory of former lead judge Chef Nicholas Lodge. Inspired from past entries and the creative elements that the competitors have introduced over the years, the awards included “Best Use of Color,” “Best Use of Sprinkles,” “Most Unique Ingredient,” “Pop Culture Star,” “Most Innovative Structure,” and “Longest Standing Competitor.” Additionally, back by popular demand, registered competitors had the opportunity to vote on their favorite design to determine the winner of the “People’s Choice: Best in Show Award.” 

While each creation was required to be 75% gingerbread and 100% edible, this year’s panel of judges also evaluated each entry based on distinct criteria, including overall appearance, originality, creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of theme. This year, the competition welcomed new judge, celebrity cake artist, Yolanda Gampp; Gampp is known for serving as a judge on FOX’s Crime Scene Kitchen, being a two-time best-selling cookbook author, and the co-founder of “How to Cake It”, the #1 online baking education company in the world. The esteemed panel of returning judges also included lead judge Mark Seaman, culinary applications chef for Barry Callebaut; Geoff Blount, pastry chef and teacher; John Cook, executive pastry chef at The Omni Grove Park Inn; Steven Stellingwerf, pastry chef, author, and teacher; Aaron Morgan, executive pastry chef at the Stable Café on The Biltmore Estate, and Ashleigh Shanti, chef/owner of Good Hot Fish & 2020 James Beard finalist.

The 2023 winning entries in the categories of Adult, Teen, Youth, Child, and People’s Choice: Best in Show Award include: