Somewhere in TLC’s summer line up, between the families that have a gazillion kids and the people who are a fashion don’t, lies Buddy Valestro and his family. It’s not your typical TV show. See, Valestro is the mastermind behind the cakes that come out of Hoboken’s Carlo’s Bakery and that makes him the “Cake Boss.” “Cake Boss” is like “the Jersey Shore” meets “Ace of Cakes” only with more family and less Snooki.
Actually, that last line is a lie. Despite the show being set in Jersey and featuring Italian cast members, there are no similarities between “Cake Boss” and “the Jersey Shore” other than the constant using of the word “yous.” (Yous is tri-state area slang for the plural of you. Yous is the equivalent of the phrase “all of you.”) And despite the similarity of career choice, Buddy Valestro is extremely different from Duff Goldman. While Duff is a young, rebellious and yet easy-going guy; Buddy is a take-no-crap, traditional, old school kind of guy.
Buddy Valestro has taken over his father’s (Carlo) bakery and turned it into the huge success it is today. While Jersey natives have always known about Carlo’s (and it’s delicious cannolis,) the TLC show as well as a few Food Network Challenges, really put the bakery on the map. A bakery that was once run solely by family now has a staff that includes brother-in-laws, friends, trainees and in our season 3 premiere, a former circus side-show barker.
For the past two seasons of “Cake Boss”, Buddy has made some of the most stunning, jaw-dropping, exquisite cakes known to man. Those cakes are the reason he claims to be the boss all the time. However, when anything questionable happens, Mama (aka Buddy’s mother,) has to remind him that she’s actually the boss. (Take that Tony Danza, you’re not even in the running!) So, when our Season 3 premiere begins with Mama telling us (and her family) that she’s retiring, our hearts can’t help but sink a little.
Mama was the one really in charge. Mama enforced the “no erotic cake” rule in the bakery (and nearly had a heart attack when she caught Buddy trying to break that rule in season 1.) Mama is the one that the loyal customers know and love; and at times, Mama is the one that the new customers come to see. She’s the voice of reason in this chaotic bakery and although many of her employees pretend they don’t listen to her, at the end of the day, she’s the only one they listen to.
Buddy and company throw her a beautiful retirement party and make her a beautiful cream puff cake. The cake is Buddy’s father’s classic recipe and decorated with a collage of vintage Mama photos on it. Mama makes a lovely speech and reminds everyone that she’ll still be popping in from time to time. She’s still the boss.
Mama’s farewell is the only downer in this otherwise upbeat show. Even that moment, while sad, was a nice one. Watching Buddy Valestro make cakes is addicting. His energy and passion for what he does is contagious. Every time I watch this show, I can’t help but be impressed with what his mind comes up with and what his staff is able to make. During the premiere he decided to make a life-size replica cake of his wife for her birthday. While this was a tad creepy, the cake was beautiful and Buddy and his team got the cake as close to perfection as possible.
There are moments in this show where I do roll my eyes and wonder how staged some of this stuff is. There’s no question that Buddy’s sister’s trying to bribe and schmooze him so that they could become “employee of the month” was staged. It’s added filler that really isn’t needed. We just want to see the cakes get made and see people react to them. There is no need for an added gag reel. Plus, these people are so charismatic and funny, that they don’t need added humor. Some of the things that come out of the staff’s mouths are hilarious, and that’s just in normal conversation. I found anything that Danny said just while complaining ten times funnier than Mary bringing Buddy a hot cookie and a cup of coffee.
“Cake Boss” is like a lot of other shows. It’s like the shows with the families, like the shows with the Italian heritage and like the shows with cake challenges. In fact, the show is so similar to other shows on TV, that it’s completely different.