GRCC culinary students create magical land of sweets

From left, students Lexee Morren and Kortni Dicks heat a poured-sugar nutcracker design at GRCC Pastry class

It’s a Land of Sweets worthy of a regal Nutcracker Prince.

Now on display at DeVos Performance Hall, the larger-than-life candy land was created by students in the Pastry Centerpieces and Wedding Cakes in the Secchia Institute for Culinary Arts. The sugary and artistic display is a rendition of the second act of “The Nutcracker Ballet,” designed under the tutelage of Professor Gilles Renusson.

Students moved each piece from the classroom to the DeVos Performance Hall’s outer lobby, unveiling it Dec. 5 for the opening of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops. It will remain on display through the Grand Rapids Ballet’s final performance of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 22.

Professor Gilles Renusson, a certified master pastry chef and renowned sugar artist, attaches a branch to the croquembouche, made of 1400 shous (unfilled cream puffs). Student Isabella Patterson assists. It took 24 lbs of caramel to glue together
Professor Gilles Renusson, a certified master pastry chef and renowned sugar artist, attaches a branch to the croquembouche, made of 1400 shous (unfilled cream puffs). Student Isabella Patterson assists. It took 24 lbs of caramel to glue together
From left, students Ana Surge and Linzee Morrenpose pose with several of the display’s cakes
Professor Gilles Renusson attaches the top piece of the croquembouche. Student Isabella Patterson assists
Student Egidio Toffolo strings and hangs each sugar snowflake from the ceiling of DeVos Performance Hall
Student Allison Fisher adds piping to an ornament in the GRCC Pastry class
Student Hollis Krum helps professor Gilles Renusson finish off the star to top the croquembouche
From left, students Kezia Stinson and Bryonna Farmer use chocolate to repair part of the violin
From left, students Isabella Patterson and Katherine Courtney enjoy a laugh while Ana Surge carefully files the chocolate violin stand
Student Isabella Patterson dabs the chocolate violin with more chocolate to secure it on the stand
Student Katherine Courtney adjusts chocolate violins at DeVos Performance Hall lobby
Student Ana Surge carefully carries the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies cake to the lobby of DeVos Performance Hall
Student Egidio Toffolo hangs the sugar snowflakes from the ceiling of DeVos Performance Hall. Alison Dopke, left, holds more snowflakes and hands each one to him.
From left, student Isabella Patterson assists professor Gilles Renusson in stringing and hanging notes
Teamwork rules putting up the Land of Sweets display in the lobby of DeVos Performance Hall
At the end of setting up the Land of Sweets display, professor Gilles Renusson, right, cheers on his students with applause for their sweet success
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Dianne Carroll Burdick
Dianne Carroll Burdick has worked as a photojournalist in the West Michigan area since 1991. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she has photographed for The Grand Rapids Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Detroit Free Press, Advance Newspapers, Grand Rapids Magazine, BLUE Magazine and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting and thought provoking stories of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2016.

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