The Trump Hotel Chicago gets into the Christmas spirit every year by transforming one of its elevators into the Gingerbread Express. Teams of pastry chefs and engineers work for months to bake gingerbread bricks and decorate the elevator that transports guests to the restaurant Sixteen.
The Gingerbread Express is made from 445 pounds of all-purpose flour, 5.5 pounds of cinnamon, 3.25 pounds of ground ginger, 230 pounds of dark corn syrup, 105 pounds of dark brown sugar, 90.5 pounds of molasses, 98 pounds of butter, 50 pounds of chocolate, and 46 pounds of fondant. Workers at the hotel begin baking gingerbread bricks in September. They finish making about 800 5” x 10” gingerbread bricks by November 1 and then decorate them with colored candy sugar, chocolate, and cocoa butter spray.
An engineering team builds a plywood wall inside the elevator to which the gingerbread bricks are glued. They install lights around the window, LED lights for the stained glass gingerbread bricks, and a toy train.
Two weeks before the Gingerbread Express opens, the team begins laying the gingerbread bricks using a method similar to the way bathroom tile is laid. Spacers are placed between the bricks and removed after they dry. Then the cavities are filled with frosting. After the workers have finished laying the gingerbread bricks inside the elevator, employees set to work on the outside of the elevator in the lobby.
It takes the hotel’s pastry team 450 hours to complete the Gingerbread Express. They do the work in addition to their normal duties.
The Gingerbread Express elevator delights both children and adults every holiday season. Visitors to the hotel can ride the elevator through the end of the year.
Riding the elevator is free. The Gingerbread Express is a way for the hotel to raise awareness and donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The hotel and the Eric Trump Foundation support the hospital and accept donations at the front desk.