Every year during the holiday season, Chef Jesse Brizuela creates a giant 13’x20’ sugar village. What started as a small project 14 years ago has grown into a beloved holiday tradition.
“I make the village for the residents,” said Brizuela. “It makes me happy to see them with their families talking about every detail in the village.”
The village is made up of 150 pounds of sugar and 50 pounds of cornstarch, with each house taking about one week to create. A train chugs along through the creation, passing by sugary trees, windmills and even a lake. The trees are made from colored royal icing, the windows are made from gelatin, the snow is made with white icing, and the mud is made from chocolate.
Brizuela started building the village this past August, and he’s almost completed this year’s design.
He’s spent the last 16 years of his 43-year career as a chef at Morningside of Fullerton. He enjoys the opportunities he’s been offered at the community, as well as the special bonds he’s formed with residents and other team members.
“I enjoy hearing the stories the residents pass along to me,” shared Brizuela. “They recommend certain dishes to me and tell me how my cooking can take them back to their childhood. It’s a great feeling to bring so much joy to someone’s life.”
Chef Brizuela started his career cooking on cruise ships. He later found himself working in five-star hotels around the world, including his home country of the Philippines. He’s cooked for celebrities and politicians but enjoys his work at Morningside the most.
He came up with the sugar village idea on his own 14 years ago. He wanted to create something special for the residents and the children who visit for the holidays.
“I’ll do this every year until I can’t anymore,” said Jesse. “It’s become a tradition for the residents and I want to make it last as long as possible.”
Read more about Chef Jesse and his sugar village creation in The Orange County Register.