Academy chef builds gingerbread houses

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Brugman
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
The gingerbread man is also a chef for the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Tommie Jones Jr., a chef and baker at the academy's Mitchell Hall cadet dining facility, has produced hundreds of gingerbread houses during the past 30 years.

One year Jones made 68 gingerbread houses, much to his wife's chagrin.

"She hated the smell of gingerbread (by the end)," Jones said. "We had houses everywhere."

A small house takes Jones 30 minutes of baking time and 45 minutes to decorate. He started making them after watching chefs build them at a cooking competition.

"I felt that I could do it from looking at them," Jones said. "I started making them with my children to keep them from messing with the presents under the tree when they were little. I love it. Everybody should be so lucky that they have a job where they can express their artistic side."

Jones' gingerbread houses are on display at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School and Mitchell Hall, and a child-sized house is at the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, Colo. Building a giant gingerbread house requires 40 or 50 pounds of gingerbread, 60 pounds of icing and more pounds of candy than Jones can remember. A giant house can take 40 hours to complete.

Jones is now trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for building the smallest gingerbread house.

"You've gotta be known for something," Jones said.