NUTCRACKER “SWEETS” COURTESY OF TAKA RESTAURANT IN ASBURY PARK
One new ritual of ours is to visit the restaurant Taka and delight in the extravagant, handmade gingerbread miniature holiday scene created each year. This year, co-owner Billy Kessler, with the assistance of Jason Asch, created a scene inspired by the fairy-tale Russian ballet, The Nutcracker Suite.
“I began brainstorming and sketching out ideas for the scene in October and latched on to the classic Nutcracker Suite,” said Billy. “We call it The Samurai Nutcracker because we have samurais dancing in front of the Christmas tree.”
In addition to the dancing samurais in traditional Asian dress, the two feet by three feet by two feet diorama – completely and painstakingly handmade and one-hundred percent edible – features twelve marzipan mice of varied sizes sitting on oversized marzipan gifts adorned with royal icing bows surrounding the illuminated Christmas tree, which is made of 30 gingerbread stars laid flat and topped with a white marzipan dove. Gingerbread nutcrackers line the perimeter of stage-left and right. The back panel is made of gingerbread and candy stained glass windows. Each mouse has an original expression. Every nutcracker features a marzipan soldier’s uniform with exacting detail.
The detail is spectacular, right down to the black and white fondant tile floor, graded to give the scene perspective. The Samurai Nutcracker took Billy and Jason more than 40 hours to create.
“It’s wonderful to see children stare at the scene – it makes the time investment well worth it,” said Billy. “At first, adults don’t normally recognize that the piece is completely made from edible products – gingerbread, fondant, marzipan and royal icing. Second glance you see their excitement and curiosity.”
The scene will be in the lobby of Taka until the first week of the New Year. It’s visible from the sidewalk, however you should see it up close. Amazing.
Happy holidays and the absolute best wishes in the New Year.