There was a time not so long ago when I believed Buddy Valastro, TLC’s Cake Boss, to be a decent man. I was a big fan of his legendary show and I marveled at the wondrous sugar and dough masterpieces that he whipped up ever episode without fail. Buddy is the most famous person associated with the city of Hoboken after Frank Sinatra and Henrietta the 266 pound chicken (from Daniel Pinkwater’s novel), and I thought that he deserved his fame. He still does, for that matter, but for a very different reason.
Buddy seemed to ooze charisma like frosting dripping from one of his pastry bags. With only the help of the people he called “la famiglia,” he constructed elaborate Dr. Seuss cakes, Christmas cakes, cakes that looked like casino tables, complete with roulette wheels. These cakes were jaw-dropping feats of culinary architecture. It seemed like there was nothing this man could not do. Sure, he was a little pushy, and on occasion he would raise his voice, but he got the job done, and there was always that playful, prideful side to him. Valastro was a genius and a hero. Or so it seemed.
Then on Christmas 2012, I was brought back down to earth. For our Yuletide dinner, my family baked a cake from Buddy Valastro’s cookbook, Cooking With The Cake Boss. It took a long time to complete the cake because we meticulously followed every single little direction in the recipe to a T. We did this because we wanted Christmas dessert to be special, and also, we tried our absolute best out of respect to Cake Boss’s talent. After the piping hot cake cooled down, we frosted it and served it right next to the Christmas turkey. The cake tasted terrible. We all felt that the Cake Boss had betrayed us.
A disturbing notion entered our collective minds just then. This unnerving idea suggested to us that Buddy Valastro was jealously guarding his treasured recipes by deliberately leaving out key ingredients in his book. I fervently hoped that this was not the case, and I generously attempted to convince myself that Buddy only made a mistake once because he was a busy man, and it wouldn’t happen again.
I was willing to give Valastro the benefit of the doubt, because even the best screw up once in a while, but on New Year’s Eve, I was watching Next Greatest Baker, and what do I see? Cake Boss being evil.
Buddy was sitting behind a table with an icy, imperious sneer on his face. Before him stood the contestants at a respectful distance, as if they were waiting on an emperor. What did His Highness Cake Boss the First say to his humble subjects?
“Let ‘em eat pie!”
No, he didn’t actually say that. Valastro’s real words more along the lines of –
“Amateurs! Your cakes are garbage; I didn’t like them! You don’t belong here!”
He was apparently enraged that the sombrero sculpture on one of the Mexican-fiesta-themed cakes had slightly tilted off the cake, causing cracks in the side.
“You wanna see what happens to cakes like this at Carlo’s Bakery?”
I briefly thought that the image on TV would change to show a montage of Buddy’s cooking staff stuffing their faces with previous cakes that had been deemed insufficient, but no–
Outside the bakery, a giant backhoe scooped up the offending cake and unceremoniously deposited it in a dumpster.
I was naturally shocked by Buddy Valastro’s power trip, because it was so unexpected. When Gordon Ramsay screams and carries on, that’s just crazy Ramsay being crazy Ramsay. It’s expected of him. When Cake Boss acts cruelly, it’s just unnatural. Confusingly, Buddy Valastro seemed equally sincere in both of his personas, which made me question the nature of reality TV.
By the way, Baking With The Cake Boss is shaping out to be a veritable Necronomicon of loathsome concoctions. My family recently made some cupcakes from another of Buddy’s recipes and they tasted even worse than the cake.
One last tidbit of information– I was eating the last piece of the Christmas catastrophe cake with my lunch the other day at school, and one of my associates commented on it, saying that it looked nice.
“No, no, it’s quite bad, actually,” I said, through a large and greedy mouthful. I’m not a picky eater and I can choke pretty much anything down. Buddy’s cake was far from being the worst dessert I’ve ever consumed in my gastronomic career. “It was manufactured using data from Buddy Valastro’s book, Cooking with the Cake Boss.”
Upon hearing that, another of my friends told me that her relatives had purchased Buddy’s cakes from Carlo’s in Hoboken, and these cakes tasted terrible, because the Cake Boss put all his effort onto the cakes on his show.
“Well, I never,” I said.