"I lived in Paris for two years; that's where I went to culinary school," explained pastry chef Rebecca Masson last night as she gestured to her entry in the 3rd annual Christmas Tail gingerbread dog house competition at VOICE.
The "dog house" that Masson, owner of Fluff Bake Bar, had made was more of a street -- a French street, to be precise -- complete with a Spa du Chien and a "Bow"-langerie, their roofs tiled with Necco wafers, Chiclets and Red Vines. It even had its very own Eiffel Tower.
"The inspiration this year was my auntie's dog, Coco, who's a poodle. I don't know if she's a French poodle or not," she laughed. "I was going to make this really girlie, pink house and then, I don't know how I thought of Paris, but I remembered that I had that Eiffel Tower cookie cutter that I've had since I came home from Paris, because I felt that I needed a foot-and-a-half tall Eiffel Tower cookie cutter. It was imperative that I have it."
That purchase ended up paying off for Masson, who won both first prize and the people's choice awards last night, fending off steep competition from pastry chef Katie Leggett (of Mark's) and Jason Chaney's team from The Barbed Rose in Alvin.
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Leggett's Snoopy dog house featured the dog himself, of course, but also real Christmas lights made from sugar and water. Each entry had to be 95 percent edible, so the lights inside were her one concession in the inedible area. The result was stunning.
Sugar and water mixed to create "glass" was seen in many of the other entries, like Brennan's gigantic dog house that was, sadly, disqualified due to size. And some entries, like Jason Chaney's, put the dogs themselves to work: Inside his cozy cottage was a pastry chef pooch rolling out dough for Christmas cookies.
The competition, as always, benefited Lucky Dog Rescue, a local non-profit dedicated to rescuing animals from BARC and making them as adoptable as possible. Guests paid $25 at the door and were invited to bid on the gingerbread dog houses themselves as well as purchase "wish list" items for the Lucky Dogs, such as heartworm treatments and grooming sessions. All of the proceeds for the night went to the rescue group, but don't fret if you weren't able to make it: You can help Lucky Dog through donations, becoming a foster parent or simply giving a forever home to one of the many dogs that are currently up for adoption.
See more of the entries in the gingerbread dog house competition in our slideshow.