Chef David Diffendorfer is an accomplished architect. However, he plies his architectural trade not on city blocks or rolling hills, but in a commercial kitchen. For nearly two decades, he has been revered as the culinary mastermind behind the Benson Hotel's renowned annual Gingerbread display in Portland, Oregon. A beloved and distinguished tradition, visitors come from far and wide to admire Chef Diffendorfer's majestic creations, each an original treasure made entirely of confectionary delights. Enchanting to children of all ages, Chef Diffendorfer's lighthearted signature includes hiding an entire family of tiny marzipan figurines within the gingerbread city limits for interactive discovery.
Each of Chef Diffendorfer's meticulously hand-crafted gingerbread displays requires approximately 300 hours of preparation, 100 pounds of gingerbread and 50 pounds of white chocolate and marzipan. Tools used range from a large band saw to a tiny toothpick. And with enticing aromas drifting throughout the elegant lobby, it is not hard to believe that every bit of each tempting masterpiece is edible...though the Benson Hotel respectfully requests that no one take a bite!
"This is a longtime tradition," says Ron Gladney, the hotel's general manager. "Under Chef Diffendorfer's expertise, it's grown to become quite a larger attraction. We have visitors who look forward to this each and every year and people in the community who make it their family holiday tradition, as well as out-of-towners who make it their holiday destination."
Professional Pastry Chef Diffendorfer's past work includes Chateau Loire, Newschwanstein Castle, Saint Vitus Cathedral and his first American castle: Biltmore House.