When Dr. Sonia Debek arrived in New York City last August, the visiting research fellow from Warsaw, Poland, was eager to learn all about her new home. She’d spend weekends exploring museums, soaking in the story of New York, but she never imagined something she created — a gingerbread replica of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center — would be on display at the Museum of the City of New York.
The cancer researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine was one of 23 bakers chosen to be part of the Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off, hosted by the museum. She filled out an application for the contest after hearing about the opportunity during a museum visit. “I already knew that I would bake NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, the magnificent building that amazes me every time I see it,” she says. “It would let me express how happy and proud I am to be a part of the Weill Cornell Medicine community and to be carrying out my research on cancer here.”
To Dr. Debek’s surprise, her application was chosen, but creating the building was no easy task for the amateur baker. Dr. Debek had to quickly learn where to get the supplies she needed — not to mention figure out how to optimize an unreliable oven. “I discovered the hard way the oven did not distribute the heat evenly, so I had to redo some burned pieces, but as a scientist, I troubleshot these setbacks,” she says.