Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

December 6, 2005 > Gingerbread competition yields checks for charities

Gingerbread competition yields checks for charities

Nestled among a forest of gaily decorated "Winter Fest" trees waiting for auction, bakery chefs proudly displayed their Gingerbread House entries that would also be sold to the highest bidder. Sam Mourad, who currently owns and operates The Original Pancake House in Fremont, Los Altos and San Jose, judged the entries. Mourad has decades of baking experience, operating wholesale and retail bakeries in Los Altos, Mountain View and Sunnyvale before retiring from the baking business. He won the coveted Golden European Award in Paris, France as "Best Chef" for Pastry and Catering in 1996.

Karen Fontaine, personal home chef and caterer, designed a cozy (and delicious) home, complete with garden dŽcor. Her business serves as a respite for busy people who want to treat themselves to a delicious home-cooked meal without shopping and preparation requirements. "We're making meal time only one simple choice," says Fontaine. "Call us and the only decision you have to make is what you want for dinner." Fontaine graduated at the top of her class at San Francisco's Tante Marie Cooking School. With over 25 years of experience, she has collaborated with many excellent Bay Area chefs including work at Crescent Park Grill and Spago's, both in Palo Alto. "My passion for cooking and a desire to serve my community led me to become a personal chef." She offers her services for all who need a break from meal preparation and special occasions including anniversary dinners, business luncheons and birthday parties.

Brian Bacher of Vienna Bakery and Cafè opted for a soaring structure with icicles hanging from the eaves. "It's in my blood," says Bacher. "My grandfather and great-grandfather were bakers." Bacher began cooking in professional kitchens at age 16 and following high school, attended the California Culinary Academy, graduating in 1989. He worked at Dreagers, Il Forniao and operated an in-store bakery at Whole Foods. After operating Springer Street Bakery in Los Altos and Torrefazione Italia in Palo Alto, Bacher purchased Vienna Bakery in December 2004. "I am blessed with the support of my fantastic wife, Marie and my daughter, Kate." Visitors to Vienna Bakery can see Bacher's great-grandfather's scale on a shelf behind the counter. "Every day, I touch the scale to acknowledge my legacy."

The above winning entries were judged unique; prize money was split between them. Proceeds from the auction of the gingerbread houses will be donated to Special Olympics and Our Kids Scholarship Fund.

Vienna Bakery & Cafè

5149 Mowry Ave., Fremont

(510) 797-7957

Karen's Kitchen

(510) 402-8405

The Original Pancake House

39222 Fremont Blvd., Fremont

(510) 744-1957

420 S. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos

(650) 559-9197

2306 Almaden Rd., San Jose

(408) 979-0251

1366 S. DeAnza Blvd.

(408) 255-7373

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