Posts Tagged ‘Cake Boss

27
Oct
09

Nice Italian Boys

So My Antonio didn’t exactly go out with a bang, but somewhat quietly with A.S. Jr. choosing bubbly Brooke over wacky Miranda just as I (and many others, I’m sure) predicted several weeks ago. (And in the fine tradition of dating reality shows, they’ve already broken up.) At least Mama Yvonne stayed out of the picture when it came down to her bambino’s final decision. I’m glad the show’s over with, as I didn’t love myself for watching it. Wonder how long it’ll be before ex-wife Tully Jensen, the most interesting person on the show, will surface with her own show. Couple months?

And in with the new (and another show starring an Italian guy with an opinionated Buddy's back!Mama, which I realize is redundant)… The second season of Cake Boss premiered last night and it seems that the show’s popularity has increased a thousandfold judging by the media coverage. Good for Buddy and la famiglia, I say. As for the new episodes (I guess we’ll continue to see two new eps each week),  it looks like the loud-bickering-Italian-family aspect of the show has been punched up a bit, with more yelling from Mama, more attitude from Mary, more drama in general. Not really necessary. But I did enjoy Buddy’s sisters ganging up on him and hiring an assistant, who seems amiably clueless and therefore perfect for this family. And Mauro’s feisty, candy-demanding son was a hoot.

The cakes did not disappoint. Buddy sure has some impressive customers: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, for which he made a cake with an enormous Venus Flytrap and assorted other realistic-looking flowers (his specialty); and Dylan Lauren (of Dylan’s Candy Bar fame), for whom he made an elaborate Candyland cake. There was also a cake with an embedded engagement ring, part of an in-store marriage proposal, which was actually quite sweet (no pun).

Despite all the yellin’, Cake Boss is really a very good-natured show, which is a big part of its appeal. Even when Buddy pulled a humiliating prank on Cousin Anthony involving a young woman/potential love interest, the kid took it in stride. It’s truly feel-good TV.

14
Oct
09

Frankie’s First Cake

“For a certain breed of cake,” says Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, “you gotta come to me.” That sentiment was illustrated perfectly in one of last night’s episodes (originally aired several months ago). Buddy was hired to make a graphically gruesome cake for a Zombie Walk (?!) in Asbury Park and an erotic, stripper-themed cake for a bachelorette party. Was he up to the tasks? Hey, he’s not called Cake Boss for nothing.

The young couple ordering the zombie cake want it as bloody and gory as possible. Buddy jumps right on board, envisioning a ghoulish creature clawing his way out of the dirt in front of a tombstone

Finished Zombie Head

finished zombie head

with “a buffet of flesh and rotting things for the zombie to eat!” Though the bakery crew is initially grossed out, they are soon happily fashioning brains and bloody body parts from modeling chocolate. The result — composed mainly of red velvet cake, grey fondant and lots of red food coloring — delights the undead gathered at Zombie Fest, who immediately fall upon the cake and stuff their faces like something out of a George Romero movie. Buddy, a bit freaked out by their enthusiasm (and perhaps their scary makeup), is nonetheless proud of his work.

stripper cake is assembled

stripper cake is assembled (photo: TLC)

Since the stripper cake was ordered by the sister of Buddy’s assistant Tone Tone, the Cake Boss feels obligated to indulge her request for something erotic (plus you know he loves a good challenge). But, “No sexy cakes!,” yells Mama when she gets wind of the idea. “Exotic, erotic, no way, no how!” Buddy won’t be deterred and orders several of the girls to each sculpt an anatomically correct stripper out of modeling chocolate, then asks Tone Tone, since he’s gay, to make one too. Naturally Mama finds out and freaks out: “Not acceptable!” Buddy may be the cake boss, says Mama, but, “Who writes the checks at the end of the week?” “You,” mutter the shop guys, looking sheepish. The artists modify the strippers by clothing them in tiny edible shorts, except for Tone Tone’s outrageously well-endowed figure, who gets an apron, to be whipped off by Buddy upon delivery at the bachelorette party.

Mama approves (she apparently doesn’t realize what’s under the apron) and everyone’s happy, especially the girls at the party who scream as if they’re at a real strip club. You can understand the appeal of Buddy’s job. When was the last time people screamed with delight at your work?

The second episode featured a cake ordered by the Museum of Natural History for its indricotherium (huge, prehistoric animal) exhibit; Buddy makes the museum folks very happy with his immense, nearly 400-pound, mammal cake, though I’m not entirely sure if including  a little caveman (for size perspective) was paleontologically correct.

There was also an elaborate Sweet 16 cake, which included the birthday girl’s favorite things: city life and the beach (represented by shopping bags, a Starbucks cup, flip flops and seashells, among other edible decorations). Unfortunately, the cake is dropped down a flight of stairs on delivery day by Danny and cousin Anthony, who look appropriately horrified at the mess. Buddy loses it for a minute, then rallies his troops to drop everything and recreate the cake, which they do in and hour and a half flat. It arrives at the party on time and is a big success.

Also in this episode, Lil’ Frankie’s in a rut and we learn that he used to work on Wall Street, before Buddy gave him a job at Carlo’s. The big guy wants a chance to decorate his own cake and Buddy obliges by giving him the cake for Mary’s daughter’s dance recital after-party.  Of course the testy Mary is dubious and, unless I was hallucinating, I thought I heard her say something like, “No offense, but I consider him your bitch,” about poor Frankie. “She was being Mary,” explains Buddy. So, there’s a lot of pressure on Frankie and we see him staying late at the bakery fretting and decorating. But in the end he delivers a lovely ballet-themed cake to the party and Mary’s daughter Lucia looks delighted. Whew.

07
Oct
09

More cake, please

I’m sorry to say I’ve managed to miss a couple of weeks of Cake Boss, but did catch a couple tonight. Nice to be back in the shop with Buddy e famiglia. The first episode, which must have originally aired last spring, featured Easter preparations at Carlo’s, including the traditional braided bread with hard-boiled eggs, a foodstuff that is crucial to my family’s celebration of the holiday. Interesting thing: Buddy’s eggshells are all white, rather than colored, like every egg-baked-into-bread I’ve ever seen. Hmmm.

As usual, there’s a lot of hectic running around and good-natured sibling bickering.  Mary will not stop complaining loudly and bitterly about some top-heavy cupcakes, causing Buddy to bellow repeatedly, “Go downstairs, Mary!” just to shut her up. Easter’s one of the busiest times of the year, but not all employees were working fast enough for Buddy. “I wanna see lightening bolts coming out of your butt!,” he exhorts the troops. They take it in stride.

Easter cakeThe big cake du jour, for the Hoboken Family Alliance Easter Egg Hunt, features a standing bunny that wobbles precariously, loses half its icing in the fridge, and has a nightmare-scary face (sorry, Buddy!). Despite all this, the cake makes it to the Hunt in one piece and is a big hit with the kids. Buddy also has to make three family birthday cakes; my favorite is a flowerpot with tulips (and edible dirt!) for Mama. Other scenes: Poor Lil’ Frankie (who else?) is forced to dress as the Easter Bunny and stand outside the shop giving out samples, and notorious non-cook Grace makes Easter dinner for the first time — for 30 people! — and is overwhelmed. But of course it all works out in the end with a little help from Buddy who pronounces the food “not horrible.”

In the second episode, a customer who orders a spectacular birthday cake every  year wants to outdo himself with a Tiki-themed cake that spews fire. Not a problem for Buddy, who creates a cake with torches, Hawaiian flowers and a big Tiki mask atop a volcano that spews fire (actually, a professional fire-breather standing behind it does). Of course it’s a huge hit at the guy’s party and, amazingly, nobody gets hurt.

Mauro mid-Tiki

Mauro mid-Tiki

Buddy also has to make a jewelry-themed cake for his sister-in-law’s shower; decorator Daniella (who studied sculpture and has a BFA; yes, these people are artists!) creates a delicate figurine wearing edible jewelry; it’s really lovely. Also in this episode: Buddy bets Mauro, who is accused of having a puss, that he (Buddy) can decorate a cake blindfolded. Naturally Mauro loses and must go upstairs dressed in a grass skirt and coconut-shell bra (over his t-shirt) greeting people in his gruff deadpan: “Aloha. Alright.” I so want to be part of this family!

(photos: TLC)

08
Sep
09

Cake Boss

I watched a few episodes of a fun, new (to me, anyway) “reality” show on TLC: Cake Boss or, as I like to call it, “The Real Sfogliatelle of New Jersey.” The show features the goings-on at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, cake-boss-buddy-valastro-175NJ, where owner/cake artist Buddy Valastro whips up towering, elaborate confections for demanding clients. Yes, there’s the usual TV cake-porn (the creation of insanely intricate confections that are in constant danger of collapse), but there’s also a wonderfully colorful shop crew, most of them related to Buddy:  hulking (cousin) “Little Frankie,” who seems to get blamed a lot for kitchen mishaps; several sisters, including the impatient, tough-talking Mary; a couple of brothers-in law, including Buddy’s taciturn right-hand man, Mauro; plus baker Danny “The Mule,” and assorted other characters that I’m sure I’ll get to know and love. Buddy himself is a talkative, high-energy kind of guy who seems constantly on the verge of losing it.

Pressure and emotions run high (need I mention that everyone is Italian?) as various pressures and calamities mount, undoubtedly encouraged by the show’s producers. There’s a lot of heated arguing in the kitchen; offenses are taken and feelings hurt. The cakes are pretty cool, too. In one episode Buddy and Co. are commissioned to create a cake resembling a giant roulette table for a local businessman. The result, complete with spinning wheel and stacks of colored chips, was impressive, but the best part was when Buddy delivered the cake to the businessman’s social club. Everyone, including club members straight out of Central Casting’s Mobster Division, held their breath as the boss circled the cake looking grim; when he finally gave Buddy the thumbs-up, there was much hugging and kissing of cheeks.

roulette cakeIn another episode a cake for a wedding included two live doves in a cage, apparently an Italian tradition (though I’ve never come across it in my entire half-Italian existence).  After a prolonged search, Frankie locates a pet shop that has the birds; a box finally arrives only to contain two white ducks. Cute. Later at the wedding, which looks like it took place at The Brownstone (of Real Housewives fame), the doves, clearly embarrassed to be part of  the festivities, refuse to be released and have to be pulled out of their cage. Another episode (or was it the same one? It’s all a blur) involved Buddy painstakingly decorating a very precise black and white cake for Brides Magazine, only to be told at the last minute that two more cakes were needed. Not unlike a Project Runway challenge “twist.”

My sister looked up the bakery online and not surprisingly, they’re not taking any orders until November.