Until last night, my only experience with cake-baking on television was with The Food Network's Ace of Cakes. Set in Baltimore only an hour from me, I viewed Charm City Cakes as the end all be all of cake making.
Until last night.
Getting a DVR a few years ago drastically changed the way I watch television. Since I usually have so many things stored on the hard drive, I never just flip through channels to see what's on. This has the unfortunate side-effect of meaning I miss out on a lot of the random shows that clog the cable airways. But since we haven't gotten to Fall premieres yet, and my DVR is pretty much empty of summer fare, I found myself in the unique position of flipping around the channels last night, looking for something to watch. And I found Cake Boss on TLC.
It's similar to Ace of Cakes, in that we basically get to see the bakery (Carlo's Baker in New Jersey) creating several special order items in an episode, with narration from the bakery's manager, Buddy Valastro. He's a fourth generation baker whose parents purchased the bakery in 1964. Since then, it's been the family business. And how.
So while Duff from Ace of Cakes is the poster boy for chill, surrounding himself with friends with a very rock vibe, Buddy is surrounded by his loud, large, and did I mention loud, Italian family. These people yell at each other all day long.
Buddy's four older sisters run the front counter of the bakery, but find time to pop into the back and yell at Buddy about various things: how the bread looks burnt, how that cake is unacceptable, why did you do this that way...it's crazy. And Buddy has no problem yelling at workers (almost all family members) to hurry up, and even will shove them out of the way, grabbing pastry bags from their hands to show them how it's done, etc.
While this sounds intolerable in print, it's actually really entertaining and hilarious. I don't come from a large family and we're not really down with the yelling so seeing a group of people express themselves by hollering in each other's faces is interesting to me from an anthropological view. And I find Italian people funny...as long as they aren't yelling at me. If they want to yell at each other, I say go for it. They never reach Gordon Ramsey levels of vitriol, it's clear there's no malice behind the raised voices, it's simply how they communicate with one another.
It's also clear that while the Valastro family is, shall we say, passionate, they are passionate about baked goods. Things go wrong in this bakery, and Buddy will flip out. He'll wring his hands, have a mild panic attack, and while most things work out, it's nice to see someone who is so emotional about cake. He definitely has his hands full, and it's clear he's the Cake Boss not just because he's in charge of cakes, but also in charge of an entire clan. A loud clan of emotional Italians. Good luck, dude.