Academy of Culinary Arts Students’ Birdhouse Centerpieces, ‘Tweeterville Village,’ Showcased at Smithville Inn

female baking student holding gingerbread house creation

Sharon Maurer of Egg Harbor Township with her “Tweeterville” birdhouse representing the Smithville business, Paw Dazzle.

Twelve Academy of Culinary Arts students in Chef Educator Tree McCann’s Centerpiece Artistry Class worked on several projects during their final class, including designing birdhouse centerpieces that each represent a Historic Smithville business. The students had to make pastillage to create their birdhouses, which is a sugar-based dough used in decorating and creating decorations for pastry, showpiece work and decorative molded forms. “Tweeterville Village” is on display at the Smithville Inn, Dec. 21 through mid-January. Other mediums the students worked with in the advanced baking class were tempered chocolate, sugar and marzipan.

Kelly McClay of Mays Landing, dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts, said, “The Tweeterville project is a great way for the students to learn the processes behind designing a centerpiece for display. Having the opportunity to meet with the shop owners and learn what motivated them to want their own business, what their perception is and how it plays out in the look of their store allows the student to not just see, but feel the commitment needed to have your own business.”

Students in the class are Anyssa Perez-Crooks of Barnegat, Alexandria Falciani of Hammonton, Emily Hood of Hammonton, Heather Fiorentino of West Deptford, Micah Conley of Cape May Court House, Sharon Maurer of Egg Harbor Township, Christian Soto of Atlantic City, Justin Fernandez of Lindenwold, Sandra Kleva of Washington Township, Isabella McLaughlin of Brigantine, Ashley Vassallo of Folsom and Kirsten Leaming of Elmer.

close up gingerbread house

The ACA has been training future chefs by nationally recognized chef educators for 35 years, was ranked the No. 1 culinary school in New Jersey by Best Choice Schools, and is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. For more information about the ACA, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, email, or visit


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