Walk into the kitchen of San Diego Mesa College culinary instructor Tom Adams and you'll see a dozen students adjusting their frosting trees and gluing candy, trying to complete their baking project before deadline.
Over in the corner, past the white cottages with candy cane fences, you'll find Louis Cohen's creation. The 52-year old baker decided to make a gingerbread house like no other.
The chimney's cracked, the shutters a little off, the pond has dead fish and there are piles of bottles in the yard. Out front, Cohen created a gingerbread sign "FORECLOSED 1-800-SCROOGE."
When assigned the task of creating a gingerbread house, Cohen decided to make up for his lack of skills with humor. He surprised his instructor with the idea but insisted he wasn't trying to make a political statement.
"It's theoretically edible," said Cohen pointing out the licorice gutters are clogged with icing leaves.
Looking around the room, there are others who have been bitten by the creative bug. A pagoda, a treehouse and a slot machine are all in the running for first place.
When asked about his chances for taking the top prize, Cohen doubted his foreclosed home would put him at the top. "The chef knows what's what," said Cohen. "Some people have beautiful craftsmanship. Mine is just a one-line joke on the side."