L. to R.: Rich Comito, Co-Owner, Coliseum Kitchen & Caterers & Chef Paula & Michael Herman, Owners, Cooking With Stars. Photo by Ed Shin

Cooking With Stars closed out 2019 by bringing back a favorite holiday event on Dec. 21: its Gingerbread House Decorating Workshops. 

Students and their siblings from four Plainview-Old Bethpage elementary schools and one Locust Valley elementary school, plus KiDS NEED MoRE families from Suffolk County, made holiday memories. Grandparents, parents and children ages 4 to 17 got crafting together as they created Christmas- and Chanukah-themed gingerbread houses.  

The workshops took place at Coliseum Kitchen & Caterers in Plainview. Chef Paula Gottlieb Herman and Michael Herman, owners of Cooking With Stars, hosted the event at their new partner location. Guests were given gift cards to spend at the Manhattan-style eatery, and could be seen enjoying eggs, Panini sandwiches, salads, and pizzas throughout the day.  Coliseum Kitchen co-owner Rich Comito made sure the event ran smoothly and provided complimentary hot cocoa station for guests. 

Upon arriving, guest families received a beautifully constructed gingerbread house weighing nearly two pounds. Even before decorating them, each house had shingles, window boxes, and other designs baked into the gingerbread pieces. Riesterer’s Bakery in West Hempstead baked the gingerbread for the workshops and Chef Michael constructed the houses over a three-day period. 

Chef Paula set up an elaborate inspiration table, where families chose white or blue gingerbread icing and a wide array of soft, hard, or classic candies, cookies, and adornments to make a delicious and unique Christmas or Chanukah house. After each gingerbread house was completed, guests posed for family photos, and took home holiday gifts and a cardboard box to transport their house safely. 

This holiday event also featured live entertainment. The vocal styling of Cyndi Hazell and guitarist John Mistretta, got things going for the first workshop, as they performed a 10-song set featuring holiday music, pop, and classic rock. “Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ “Hallelujah,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” filled the air with sweet sounds. The second workshop included a sing-along led by Cyndi and a few multi-talented gingerbread chefs.  

Master balloon artist John Reid of Epic Balloons twisted balloons for the kids in gingerbread boy, gingerbread girl, and snowmen shapes. He added whimsical details to each creation with colorful markers. He also wowed everyone with his two surprise masterpieces for event hosts. His balloon version of Chef Paula with her pink chef hat, white chef coat and long brown hair, was a real show stopper. Michael also loved receiving a balloon sculpture resembling the camera he was using to shoot the event, complete with a flashbulb inside.

Cooking With Stars thanked participating families, vendors, and entertainers for kicking off the holidays with them.

Michael Herman & Balloon Artist, John Reid of Epic Balloons. Photo by Ed Shin
Singer, Cyndi Hazell & Guitarist, John Mistretta. Photo by Ed Shin.
Photo by Ed Shin.
Photo by Ed Shin.
Photo by Ed Shin.
Photo by Ed Shin.
Photo by Ed Shin.
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