Friday, November 28, 2014

Building Permits Not Required For Houses that Benefit Center Programs

Builders, far right, work on the 2013 Gingerbread House at
 River City Casino and Hotel 

Building and decorating a new home right before the holidays can be enough stress to send even the easiest going among us straight to the eggnog punch. For Executive Pastry Chefs Eric Phillips and Stephan Schubert, it’s weekend work, and no building permits are required.

The two award-winning chefs led culinary arts teams that constructed two life-size gingerbread houses, one for Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles and the other for River City Casino and Hotel, the weekend before Thanksgiving.
It’s all for a great cause.

The chefs, Pinnacle Entertainment and iHeartMedia’s 103.3 KLOU are all working hard to raise money to benefit the Center for Hearing & Speech’s Not So Silent Night (NSSN) event.

In addition to the smell of gingerbread wafting through the air, inside the houses are ‘roomy' dining tables for six. For a $25 reservation fee per person, you can eat a pre-set three-course meal or order something off the regular menu. The $25 reservation fee is donated directly to the Center to help ensure Not So Silent Nights become reality for those with communications disorders.

The ‘architect’ of the homes is Cindy Collins, a member of the Center’s board of directors and on air talent at 103.3 KLOU. A few years ago, she and her contact at Pinnacle Entertainment tossed around ideas to raise money for the Center. Her contact came up with the idea of NSSN. The first year Pinnacle properties offered a turkey burger and donated money to the Center for each one sold.

“The second year, River City’s Executive Chef John Johnson had the idea for the gingerbread houses,” Collins said. “He’d always built a small one as a display and thought, ‘Why not max it out and let people dine inside?’ He teamed up with the executive pastry chef and they built two amazing houses, one for each property,” she said.

Last year there was one house at River City Casino and Hotel.

This year, the two NSSN gingerbread houses are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, November 24 to Wednesday, December 24.

Reservations for dining at the Ameristar house can be made by calling 636-940-4454. Please call 314-388-7625 for reservations at River City.

There will be a life-size Gingerbread Man stationed outside both houses. Upload your selfies with him to for a chance to win a $50 Ameristar or River City restaurant gift certificate.
Although the insides of both houses are completely edible, Collins asks patrons to “please don’t … Santa is watching, you know!”

The Center for Hearing & Speech is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that last year donated $1.75 million in audiology, speech therapy and school screening services to residents of the metropolitan St. Louis area and surrounding communities. 

It is a proud member of the United Way, and a 2014 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s TORCH award. The awards are given to businesses and charities that “demonstrate a commitment to customer service through exceptional standards for ethical business practices.”
For more information, please call the Center at 314-968-4170 or check it out on the web at

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