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Capitol’s architecture celebrated in Edgewater’s gingerbread replica

November 19, 2018

The Edgewater hotel is recognizing its 101-year-old neighbor up Wisconsin Avenue, the state Capitol, with a gingerbread replica.

The holiday-themed Capitol will be unveiled Friday during the hotel’s fifth annual tree-lighting ceremony. The free event, on the hotel’s outdoor plaza, is open to the public.

The replica of architect George B. Post’s Beaux-Arts styled masterpiece, is being built by the hotel’s pastry chef, Paul Trecroci, and will be displayed in The Edgewater’s lobby through the holidays. (It comes down Jan. 2.)

Trecroci, 50, who joined The Edgewater six months ago after 13 years as a pastry chef at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Chicago, said his Capitol will be about 30 inches wide and two feet tall.

He’s making about 20 pounds of gingerbread in two batches and estimates the structure will consist of about 80 pieces of gingerbread. “It’s like a big puzzle,” Trecroci said.

While the gingerbread buildings Trecroci’s made at his previous job got more complicated over the past 10 years, the Capitol is going to be the most difficult in terms of its size and detail, he said.

“With all of the columns and the dome on it, it’s going to be a challenging piece,” he said.

Trecroci, who spoke Nov. 8, three days after he started on the project, said he planned to make a mold for the dome and probably install it in four pieces.

Claire Varrelmann, The Edgewater’s marketing director, anticipates it will take Trecroci about 20 hours to complete the project. He’s working on it in his free time, when he’s not making desserts for the hotel.

His first step was to create a template and draw each area of the building. The base is wood and foam, and the structure will be completely made with gingerbread and decorated with candy. Trecroci will be using lots of candy canes for the building’s columns.

The construction process isn’t open to the public. “We have him tucked away,” Varrelmann said.

Trecroci, a Kenosha native who did his training at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, said he moved to Madison from Chicago for a change of scenery. “My wife and I wanted to get out of the busy city and have a life in a more relaxed atmosphere.”

Those who’ve built a gingerbread house at home know how frustrating it is to have the walls collapse just as the finishing touches are going on.

Trecroci said the way he keeps his gingerbread structures from caving in is an “industry secret.” Varrelmann added that the Capitol will have a secret ingredient that isn’t edible.

The building, they said, can’t be eaten after it is disassembled.

One of the reasons Trecroci chose the Capitol is because he looks at it every day. It’s visible straight up Wisconsin Avenue from the hotel. “I love the architecture of it,” he said. “Even though it seems simple, there are a lot of complicated pieces on it that make it interesting.”

The hotel has been a place to celebrate for the holidays for more than 70 years, said Amy Supple, The Edgewater’s senior vice president and chief operating officer.

“Each year we look to build on our décor and attractions and invite the Madison community to be immersed in this fun and festive environment,” Supple said.

The gingerbread replica of the Capitol adds to the hotel’s holiday tradition “by celebrating Madison’s most iconic structure and the Downtown as a whole,” she said. “Our hope is it will draw people to The Edgewater throughout the holiday season.”

In addition to the gingerbread Capitol and tree-lighting festival, the hotel’s holiday spirit will be communicated through lights, holiday brunches, holiday teas and programming that includes carolers during Friday night happy hours. The carolers will sing in Augie’s Tavern, which is connected to The Edgewater’s Statehouse restaurant.

The Friday tree lighting on the hotel’s outdoor Grand Plaza caps an afternoon of family activities beginning at 2 p.m. Expect performances by local choirs and kids crafts. Santa and Mrs. Claus will preside over the tree lighting, which kicks off a month of holiday festivities at The Edgewater.

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