Since North Shore Boulangerie opened at 4401 N. Oakland Ave. in 2014, it’s been tradition to display a beautiful holiday scene made from gingerbread in the bakery’s front window.
This year is no exception. In fact, children of all ages can enjoy the 2021 scene, which will be on display through Christmas at both the Shorewood and Mequon location in the Foxtown Development at 11124 Industrial Dr.
Features include an intricately decorated Christmas tree, a whimsical train, and a variety of toys displayed on rotating stands which bring life and movement to the picturesque scene.
Take a peek
Peep through the window of either bakery (better yet, pop inside for a treat and get the full effect) and you’ll see the fully lit whimsical display, which was created by Christina Schubert, a pastry chef whose work has been showcased at The Drake Hotel in Chicago, as well as past displays at the Shorewood bakery and cafe, where she headed up the pastry program for about four years.
Schubert's attention to detail is evidentt in elements like the toy train, which features a locomotive puffing out fanciful puffs of marshmallow smoke as it hauls its rig of mini-marshmallow coal along railroad tracks comprised of Andes candies and frosting.
Behind it trails a series of train cars toting their loads, including a sleigh filled with gifts for the good little boys and girls.
Schubert says it took her about two months to develop a game-plan for the display, which she began pulling together in mid-October, spending weeks baking, building and decorating the elements for both gingerbread scenes.
Creations include a classic gingerbread house decked out with a cottage roof made from Triscuits and windows that glow with holiday spirit.
“I am someone who likes to be as realistic in my portrayals as possible,” notes Schubert, “So when I was making the toys and the tree, I wanted it to be fun. But I also wanted the items to be realistic and recognizable.”
Realism takes the fore in her depiction of an old fashioned teddy bear, which she modeled after a stuffed rabbit she owned as a child, complete with an adorably large nose and oversized arms and legs.
Guests will also find realistic toy blocks and a festive nutcracker who dances in circles, keeping an eye on the display below.
“In so many ways, this is a labor of love,” says Schubert of the project, for which she was commissioned by North Shore Boulangerie owner Gene Webb. “And it’s something I really enjoy… But Gene is really the backbone behind all of this.
“He’s done a great deal for my career, and opened up opportunities for people to learn and grow and really develop. He’s the reason I was on the Food Network. And he really deserves credit for all he does for the community, including giving them this joy during the holiday season.”
Catch Schubert on Food Network
The North Shore Boulangerie holiday display isn’t the only place to catch Schubert’s work. Her gingerbread creations also made it to the national stage this week, during her television debut on the Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown,” during which she competed on a team with another North Shore Boulangerie alum, Ana Silva, to create a holiday light show out of gingerbread. (If you missed the show on Monday, you can catch it on the Food Network or Discovery+ on Dec. 2 at 10 a.m., Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. and Dec. 13 at 4 p.m.)
“Participating on the show was absolutely incredible,” says Schubert, who admits that working on such a strict timeline was also stressful. “I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know if I could do it in the timeframe I was given. So I really did need to think about how I wanted to approach things… and in a very different way.”
Brunch with Santa
Need a bit more holiday cheer? On Saturday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., North Shore Boulangerie in Shorewood will be hosting a very special visit from Santa himself. During the visit, guests can enjoy a visit with the jolly elf along with a special prix fixe lunch.
Adult lunches include soup or salad, a choice of sandwiches or quiche and a beverage for $25. Children’s meals include a choice of reindeer pancakes (Rudolph’s favorite), Santa’s Workshop scrambled eggs or a Snowman’s ham sandwich ($12). Children will also receive a personalized gingerbread man from Santa himself. Table reservations are required (with a $10 deposit). For more information and to make a reservation, visit northshoreboulangerie.com.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.