Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Show About A Baker…But Where’s The Baking?

It's all fine and good to write about reality television, but then you would know that I WATCH that stuff. I really was trying to watch a COOKING show and it's not my fault that it turned into a typical reality show with a bit of cookery in the background. 


I came across this perfectly adorable and very talented young baker, Vinny from Staten Island, for the first time recently when he made Hoda’s (or maybe it was Katheeee Leeee’s) birthday cake.


I had never heard of Vincent (Vinny) Buzzetta before. He has a show on the WE network, which isn’t that easy to find. After I finally located the channel, I couldn’t find the show. I ended up watching “Staten Island Cakes” online, because WE doesn’t show it nearly as much as they do Bridezillas, which I can perfectly well understand. There are few things as entertaining as watching a bride go bombastic on reality television.

I watched Vinny’s “Spooktacular” episode and, gosh, did he get into a lot of zany trouble! For one thing, he was seriously overbooked with nutty clients. He had a Sweet 16 cake to do for a girl who should really watch My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. That seems pretty close to what she was going for. And because her party had a Halloween theme, she was also asking for a gory, grisly cake. Vinny was happy to comply.

Then there was the matter of the zoo cakes. These zoo folks came to Vinny at the last minute (which happens to Buddy all the time) and not only asked for one giant and one NOT-so-giant Alice in Wonderland cake, they also wanted TWO THOUSAND cupcakes. This was when insanity ensued over at the Buzzetta household.

Vinny and his “animated” (read that as aggressive, forceful, domineering, screeching, teased and over-painted, but very youthful looking even so) mom, Cammy Picciano, tell his sister Kristin that she has to be at the zoo event to help out.


Kristin says she has a life and she hates the zoo. Plus she has to have to her tail lights tinted. (I don’t think that’s New Yawk talk for some kind of plastic surgery, but I could be wrong.)


“MA!!!” she screams, “We’re not the Brady Bunch and we don’t have to do everything together.” Vinny calls Kristin a witch with a “b”. Okay, this is definitely verging on cur-razeee.


Something occurred to me as I watched Vinny’s caterwauling sister. I bet I can predict which television baker is your favorite, based on your favorite reality show.

Ready? If you are a Jersey Shore aficionado, then Vinny and his wacky family will probably be right up your alley.

Maybe you go nuts for the Real NJ Housewives? Buddy is definitely your man then.

So which reality show relates to the crazy crew at Charm City Cakes? Hmm, I know! Duff and friends probably have the same audience as that exterminator guy! (Have you ever seen him? He’s radical.)

Wait, there’s a problem with my analysis. Kristin is not only channeling some of the Jersey Shore inmates, but she also seems to be the twin of one of the NJ Housewives’ bratty daughters, Ashley. (Do NOT ask me how I know that. In my defense, I have tons of UNWATCHED episodes of the Real Housewives on Tivo, but I did happen to catch an altercation between Ashley and her mother Jacqueline.)


I know this is only my first exposure to Vinny and famiglia, but I do have the feeling that at the end of the day, Kristin will show up at the zoo event and everyone will be all huggy-kissy? (Ya think?)


After the altercation with his sister, we see Vinny at his bakeshop. He seems to run it the way a kid would run a lemonade stand. He keeps calling Mom when he runs out of things. First it’s brown sugar and then, after one of his assistants drops tons of eggs, he discovers he’s also run out of bleach. Buddy would rather bake a cake eggless, I think, than to axe his mother to run to the store for him.

Vinny works on a surprise to go with the Sweet 16 cake. He conducts a test of lighting cans of sterno gel to make a ring of fire around the cake. All he gets is dangerous explosions. He moves on to an idea for a chocolate skull with “blood” inside. That doesn’t go too well either.

Cousin Joe is on hand to help him with phone calls and anything he needs (unlike his sister). Cousin Joe looks more like an uncle than a cousin.

Mom comes to the store with some small kid. Does Vinny have a little brother? And where is Dad? Apparently Mom has a husband, but that’s not Dad, to Vinny anyway.

Mom takes Vinny aside and says he has to apologize to his sister. Fine! He says finally. He goes home and goes to her room. He uses the word b*tch a hundred times. I don’t like that. He says he’s sorry and that he was out of line. The truth is she WAS a witch. SHE says he’s only apologizing because he needs her. (HE tells US she knows him too well.) She says he could have axed her nicely.

What does this have to do with baking? Where is the masterful decorating? Where are the icing roses? I haven’t even seen one cannoli this entire time!

Ashley, I mean Kristin, says, “I’m just not going to do anything if you demand me.” That’s not a typo, that’s what she said.

They all sit down to dinner. Who are all those people? Granny and Grandpa are there. And the husband of the mother is there too.

Oh, there is some family values time happening. Granny reminds Vinny when he was small and he wanted to help with the cheesecake. She let him run the Mixmaster and he put it on high speed and it went everywhere. (Every family has a story like that. Mine is the peach soufflé on the ceiling.) Let’s see if Vinny got a whooping or if Granny laughed at the mess.

Seriously, that can be a turning point in a kid’s life. If he feels supported and encouraged, that will make him want to pursue his passion, no matter how much hard work is involved. I’m guessing Granny had no problem with the batter on the walls and probably got to work breaking another 10 eggs and having little Vinny beat another 2 pounds of cream cheese. Let’s see if that’s what she remembers too.

Darn! She doesn’t say, but Vinny says there’s no way he would be celebrating his store’s 2nd anniversary without his family’s support, so Gran must have been okay with the mess.

During dinner, they also reminisce about Kristin’s sweet 16 which sounds Real Housewives’ worthy. She had THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY people there and professional dancers and lots of cardboard cutouts of herself, which are still in the house. Vinny brings one to the table. Kristen says her wedding will top that. Oy! SHE should watch Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Vinny is back at his shop and he says finishing the Sweet 16 cake is going to be a “b*tch of a day". He has kid assistants (just like him) and they all look tremendously talented. Mom comes to help him carry the cake to the party. It’s a big drama. WHY don’t they have a trolley with wheels?!!

They deliver it safely and assemble a lot of it there. (Then what was the drama for?) It IS amazing. Vinny is worried that the top is going to fall off as he wheels it out. It’s okay AND he managed to come up with a chocolate skull that didn’t shatter as the birthday girl cuts through it to reveal “blood”. Ew. She’s happy, so I guess that’s all that matters.

Next, we see Vinny making an Alice in Wonderland “Display Cake”. That means that it’s not edible. Wow, all that work and they can’t even eat it. I know they teach that in pastry school, but isn’t that kind of pointless in the real world?

Vinny’s gal assistants giggle at him when he wants to go over how they’re going to deal with 2000 kids decorating cupcakes. They run around the kitchen chasing each other with cupcakes.

Sister Kristin comes to do his makeup for the zoo Halloween party. (Is she perhaps a student of beauty? That’s so Real Housewives.) Kristin sprays on foundation. (I didn't even know you could do that until Jerseylicious...I'm just trying to shock you now.) She tells Vinny to look up and then look down. That starts a yelling match, because he explains that he’s never put on makeup before.

Okay, THIS IS FUNNY. I could see my own kids fighting like this. Vinny feels uncomfortable to begin with because he’s wearing a costume AND makeup. AND Kristin is not doing one little thing to help him feel more comfortable. This IS like RHNJ and JS mixed up in one.

This IS getting a little weird. Why does he have to wear red lipstick and a magenta Lady Gaga wig? Vinny says this not your typical cake drop-off.

They’re at the zoo and there’s a huge line of kids getting cupcakes. I’m not sure what’s going on and who’s supposed to be decorating - the assistants or the kids? Then Vinny has to go out during the Alice in Wonderland performance and bring out one of his display cakes. It was kind of strange. His sister says he looked great up on stage…in HER makeup.

At the end of the day, what have we learned? That kids in Staten Island have foul mouths? Nah, I think that’s probably everywhere. I think we learned that if you have a kid who has a passion, let him or her follow it where it leads them - not to sound too Oprahish… (Oh, what the hey? She’s done pretty well.)

Vinny is amazingly young, 21, so I can’t yet put him in the same category as his older baking counterparts, but he does have something that Duff and Buddy have in spades. And that’s an amazing talent and drive for baking and creating jaw-dropping cakes. He IS already a baking sensation. Plus he’s really cute, has great hair and tweets with alarming regularity, so he’s all set for a life in the limelight. I just hope Mama stays close and he continues to hone his baking skills.

His show, though, could use some maturing. Staten Island Cakes often feels like it’s not only its young star who is amateurish, but all the other people inhabiting the screen are as well, AND, worst of all, the people pushing the buttons BEHIND the scenes! You can just hear them saying, “Have a fight with the cupcakes.” “Have a fight with your sister.” “Have a fight with the table.”  

I know Cake Boss isn’t that much different sometimes. But, because Buddy's actual cake-making is highlighted more, it seems less burlesque. 


Abandoned By Wolves said...

To paraphrase Martin Mull, having a reality show about cake sculpture is like dancing about architecture.

It's cake. Cake can be good, but in the end it's still just..cake, no matter how the baker tries to pretend it's an art form or something.

The script always tries to pretend that the delivered cake is the focus and payoff of whatever event it was commisioned for, but in reality (har!), it's always,"Oh, cool, gimme a slice, yum, now where's the beer?"

Sue said...

I couldn’t agree with you less! “In the end, it’s still JUST cake”?#*%! Cake can be life-changing! And MAKING cake can be transformative!

Baking and all that goes along with it IS certainly a craft, but it’s also an art form, if what we mean by art is something representing aesthetic principles. Kings of Pastry certainly shows that a lot more than watching Vinny and the screaming banshees he calls his family. But he is still striving for something that he considers beautiful and the fact that cretins are eating his cakes doesn’t make the cakes themselves LESS beautiful.

PS To paraphrase you paraphrasing Martin Mull: Writing about music isn’t anything like having a reality show about cake sculpture.

Emily said...

Hmm not sure I agree with that comment.

I need to try and watch this show. I've never heard anything about it! I think I'd like because I, uh, watch RHONJ AND Jersey Shore. Teehee.

Isn't Ashley awful?

Sue said...

Hey Em,
I think you would be impressed by Vinny (or his baking anyway).

Ashley really IS awful. You wonder if she has any idea at how she's coming off. She's not exactly a brainiac, so she probably thinks she looks great.