Looking for a fun gift, that’s also a craft project for a child (or adult), helps out families in need and is completely delicious? Then you’ll want to get over to The Miriam Hospital in Providence where for the next few weeks you can purchase a deluxe gingerbread man or woman decorating kit, freshly baked from Gracie’s restaurant kitchen, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting families in need.
Gracie’s Pastry Chef Melissa Denmark oversees the baking and kit building process and I visited the kitchen during cookie kit production for all the gingerbread information. Denmark told me they’re making 150 pounds of cookie dough to produce 1,000 cookies this year, up from 700 cookies sold last year. Gracie’s has also purchased 36 pounds of decorating candy which includes red & green sprinkles, gumdrops, mini-chocolate chips and more. Then there’s also 1000 packages of icing (which wasn’t in yet when these photos were made) which will come in easy-to-squeeze tubes.
eat drink RI: This is the second year for the gingerbread decorating kit project. How did it come about and who does it benefit?
Melissa Denmark: Our good friend Joe Conlan, Co-Director of Men’s Health at Miriam Hospital, approached Ellen [Gracyalny, Gracie’s owner] with the idea last year. The proceeds go to families in the local community. Joe works with a liaison in the community who matches this project with families in need. They come up with a list of goods that are needed. At the end of the project we take all the funds and go to Target and Kohl’s and have a big shopping spree to present to these families, which is such a nice, warm feeling.
edRI: How does the process work?
MD: Production is divided into three realms. We have the cookie production, which starts with Danielle [Lowe] and I making a big batch of gingerbread cookies over and over again. We roll those out and stamp them out and we bake them in waves depending on Joe’s sales at the hospital. Then we get the staff here at Gracie’s involved. They are helping us package all the little goodies, all the candies, all the icing—we have a variety of six different candies and icing that we tuck away into packages.
Then it all gets picked up by Joe. This year, the actual box assembly with tissue paper and ribbon is happening over at Miriam Hospital. Joe is the conductor of this project and has invited all of his elves over at the hospital to help with the packaging. He has about 10-15 people involved. [The kits] are sold in the cafeteria to gain buzz from the staff at the hospital and they’re also selling them at the entrance of the hospital.
edRI: What’s included in each kit?
MD: You get one giant gingerbread cookie, two ounces of icing and six bags of candies for $8. It’s a really fun project to do. It’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting because it gets a lot of different people involved, and it’s during the season when everybody has all this spirit and it’s good to give back.