Don’t panic. The actual Bob’s Java Jive is just fine.
But the gingerbread house replica of the Tacoma icon – not so much. It was like a “worst moments from Food Network” scenario say those who witnessed the late-night collapse of the house that was intended for display with six others at the Tacoma Art Museum through Dec. 13.
Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending. The house is on display, as intended, but it took an all-night pastry rally to get it there.
Last Monday night, Pastry Chef Rachael Roberts, of Jonz Catering, was just about to secure the last ornaments of the house – mini fondant replicas of the monkeys Java and Jive – when Bob’s Java Jive completely imploded.
“It was like a slow quiet implosion, it imploded on itself,” said Roberts, who is quite good humored about her pastry collapse. “We were running around. It’s 11 p.m. the night before it’s due. I was trying to find Styrofoam and putting sticks on it, but there was no saving it at all.”
The first few moments were tense. “This was four days of work coming down. I sat there and wept. I’m not a cryer … I was just kind of … tears just quietly started,” Roberts said.
Her boyfriend Joe Maya sat there, silent. Her bosses, Jonz catering operations manager Linda Dagley and executive chef David Dagley already had left for the night. “My husband and I … we left for the night thinking she’d be done in a few hours,” said Linda Dagley.
“She didn’t even call to tell us what happened,” added Dagley, who was even more surprised that Roberts recreated the entire house overnight.
Roberts said it was her boyfriend Maya who was the one who convinced her they could redo the entire house and still make the deadline for display.
“He was like, ‘Is there any way to get it done?’”
Roberts was not convinced, but decided to get out some wire mesh to see if they could recreate Bob’s by molding the structure. “We attached the trunk (the spout of the coffee pot shaped building) to the mesh first, then molded the gingerbread around it. That was key, to set the spout, and that was saved.” It actually was the spout that did in her design. The lesson she learned? “Never, ever attach something heavy to a seam on a gingerbread house,” said Roberts. An experienced pastry chef who doesn’t flinch at an assignment of a 20-tier cheesecake, this was her very first gingerbread house. Lesson learned.
“So we cranked up the coffee pot here. We worked from 11 p.m. until 5 in the morning. .. Then we let it dry. I left a note on the white board in the kitchen with a sad face that said, ‘I’ll explain what happened in the morning.’”
She went home, got a few hours sleep, then returned to finish decorating the house before the 4 p.m. deadline. She and her small crew attached the decorations and rushed to make deadline. She said that technically speaking, her creation is not as impressive as it could have been if her original design had worked, but she thinks her house looks pretty good considering she recreated it in the middle of the night.
The gingerbread replica of Bob’s Java Jive will be on display with six other gingerbread recreations of Tacoma landmarks through Saturday Dec. 13 on the third floor of the Tacoma Art Museum.
The display is free with the price of admission to the museum. The event is an education/awareness event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (yes, that’s right, a sugar-based event to raise awareness for diabetes). The six houses were crafted by local designers, artists and students from Affairs Chocolates & Desserts, BCRA, Bellarmine Prep, Korsmo Construction, Paprika Catering and local tile artist Claudia Riedener. The landmarks represented include the Tacoma Dome, Stadium High School and the Ford Building. And, of course, Bob’s Java Jive.
Gingerbread houses on display
Where: Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave
Hours: On display through Dec. 13. Museum hours are Wednesdays–Sundays, 10 am – 5 pm
Admission: Adult $9, Student/Military/Senior (65+) $8, Family $25 (2 adults and up to 4 children under 18). Children 5 & under free. Third Thursdays at TAM are free. Members always free.
Catering contact: www.jonzcatering.com
More photos of gingerbread houses on display at TAM through Dec. 13: