Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Taste of the High Rollin' Baker's Life

Who knew that the ticket to meeting TLC reality show "Cake Boss" star Buddy Valastro was to buy a Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lambourghini, or Bugatti? I would have said to go to his bakery in Hoboken, which I have seen, but not been in, due to my lack of desire to stand in line for two hours in the sweltering August Hoboken sun. I love desserts, and I love quaint Hoboken, but I do not love waiting, sweating in my clothes, or wasting NYC-sightseeing time.

Don't worry, I didn't combine the whole $500 I've made off baking so far with an outrageous loan to buy a Bentley so that I could meet Cake Boss. But my grandpa did. But not to meet Cake Boss.

Outdoor tent space and gathering crowds.
Anyway, recently I received a call from my grandpa asking if I was interested in taking his tickets to an upcoming event at the new Gold Coast Rolls Royce dealership, at which Cake Boss would be filming an episode of his show. Ummm....yeah, I'm interested.

The purpose of the event was a "ribbon-cutting" for the dealership's foray into Rolls Royce; they already sold Bentleys, Lambourghinis, and Bugattis. For this grand celebration, the dealership's principal, Joe Perillo, Sr., invited his one hundred valued customers and guests and cleared all the cars out to create room for a swanky event that included two red carpets, a live jazz band, scanty little-black-dress-clad champagne waitresses, floral and crystal arrangements, silk-wrapped high tops, and a tented patio along Pearson Street. And, to infuse the theme of "la famiglia" (family in Italian), as well as create enormous media hype, Perillo invited fellow paisano Buddy Valastro to not only make him a grand celebration cake, but also film an episode of "Cake Boss" at the event. No big deal.
Hilarious photo ops.

The day of the event, a surprise sighting of the Cake Boss spurred my excitement: right outside my work window, I watched the "Cake Boss" crew film a scene for the episode. Buddy rolled up to the Sears/Willis Tower in a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe (approximately $450,000.....), parked out front in the middle of South Wacker Drive (totally normal, especially for $450,000 cars that you don't want smashed by an errant taxi...), looked up at the Sears Tower Skydeck, a glass ledge overhang on the 103rd floor, then walked inside. The scene gave you the feeling that Buddy was then going to go up to the Skydeck, but then he just walked right back out, got in the Phantom with his group, and slowly rolled away. Just an example of how piecemeal a television episode is.
A few hours later, I ran home after work to change into my richest-looking cocktail attire, as I knew everyone at the event was going to look at me and wonder how a young female could be a valued customer of a luxury car dealership, as I am definitely not. As my cab rolled up, I admired the red carpet and tent over the Pearson Street patio to my left. As I looked to my right, I was startled: screaming "Cake Boss" fans stood behind a barricade on the opposite side of the street, scrambling for a glimpse of their beloved Buddy. So, this is what it feels like to be on the other side... felt good, I must admit. Especially when one girl screamed, "I love your dress!" At least they don't know I'm not a valued customer.

I was escorted to the other red carpet (the Pearson Street one was for Buddy's cake entrance), where I had to take a picture of my face next to my pre-signed-and-faxed television release waiver - tight security to see a cake, in my opinion. My "date"/friend Stephanie and I walked in, politely accepted a glass of champagne from the sexy waitress, and commenced people watching. What a site. This crowd was rich and beautiful, that was certain. The age ranges were interesting: there were a few Cake Boss-fan kids, probably up to the age of 15, that belonged to the Perillo family and to a couple luxury car-owning parents. Ten years after that, there was Stephanie and me - and that's it for the 20s. The ages then started again around 35, mostly male owners or trophy wives. And from there, the sky was the limit, with the median age around 55, with many wealthy seniors to be found. There were approximately 20 boob jobs, 10 nose jobs, 12 lip jobs, and 15 lipo jobs (some botched), that I counted. There were approximately 50 designer handbags, 17 pairs of Louboutins, and probably 500 carats of diamonds - often 10+ in a single woman's ring. The wonders never ceased.

Need that professional picture taken by the hand in the corner.
Aha! Amidst the fake boobs and tight dresses and white hair and diamonds was Buddy Valastro, THE "Cake Boss," taking pictures with the guests! Stephanie and I patiently joined the line (I could handle this one, as it was only about five people long) and got our picture with Buddy! Here's the one on my camera, which is terrible - thank you, lady-behind-me-in-line. However, there was a professional photographer snapping as well, so once the dealership posts the pictures on their site, I will snag that pic to post here.

Having gotten half of what I came for (1/2 = picture with Buddy; 1/2 = slice of Buddy's cake), I settled in for the the festivities, which commenced with some speeches from the Perillo family and friends about their illustrious dealership past and future, now with Rolls Royce as a partner. All anyone was thinking, though, was, "Where's the cake?", "What will the cake be?", "I bet it's going to be a full-size Rolls Royce!", "No way!!!", "Yes! Have you SEEN his cakes?!", etc. They tried to assuage the crowd by passing around silver platters of Italian pastries from Buddy's own Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, which worked on me at least, as I am a sucker for a good cannoli. However, the cannoli-high wore off as we all stood herded around the red carpet, waiting for the arrival of the cake via Buddy's refrigerated truck all the way from Hoboken. The sky slowly turned a foreboding shade of gray, then black, making me happy I was under the tent, as some guests were not so lucky. Finally, the truck arrived, but then we could not find a forklift to get the cake out. That took another fifteen minutes, causing one to wonder why this was not a better-organized operation. Buddy and crew knew they needed to get a hustle on, as the heavens were about to open and rain on their parade, literally. Luckily, a forklift was found, and the cake slowly emerged from the truck. The large group of fans behind the barricade screamed (and dutifully did not take pictures, as the producer instructed them not to for maximum television drama) as the cake theme was revealed - the city of Chicago!

What a struggle. The cake was easily ten feet wide, four feet deep, and eight feet tall - four feet of table and four feet of cake. It took a crew to get the cake into the red carpet receiving area. Fortunately, the cake made it under the tent just in time to escape some hurricane-like winds and rain (I felt bad the the crowd members that were just outside the tent, as the roof kept dumping water on their heads). Buddy started his explanation of the cake parts: the deep dish pizza, the hot dog with no ketchup/catsup, the Sears/Willis Tower, the Hancock building, the Prudential Building, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, etc.

And thennnn.... the best part! ..... Aaaand..... here it comes! ..... Aaaaaand..... what's going on? Suddenly the camera lights went out. "We need lights for this part," Buddy said, as he gave his crew some heated looks, then walked behind the cake. A shuffle ensued for an extension cord, and a Carlo's Bakery crew member fiddled around with some clearly broken mechanics in the underbelly of the cake. About fifteen minutes later, light was found, as was power to the cake. Buddy continued his speech as crew members lit sparklers on the cake's edges. Suddenly, a Rolls Royce emblem rose out of the middle of the cake, a crowning glory over the city of Chicago. While a truly impressive display, I was laughing as I pictured the last hour (struggling to get the cake off the truck and scrambling for electrical power, with Buddy cursing all the while) condensed into a five-minute, seemingly seamless television segment - Oh! The magic of Cake Boss!

Explaining the cake/city components.
Sparkler magic.

Buddy: "Ugghhh, c'mon!"

I'm sure they'll also not show the fact that it took about an hour to actually cut the cake, meanwhile a different sheet cake and pastries were passed to guests. I eventually fought my way into the Chicago cake line, as Stephanie and I were bound and determined to try the actual Cake Boss cake. To be honest, I was expecting it to be kind of gross, an over-sugary, chewy fondant-wrapped cake that had sat too long in a refrigerated truck. However, to my surprise, it was actually quite delicious - the vanilla cake was flavorful and moist, the middle chocolate frosting layer complemented the cake nicely, and the top frosting (no fondant on the piece of Lake Michigan and Grant Park that I cut) was nothing like your typical gritty grocery buttercream. In fact, Stephanie and I both liked the Chicago cake better than the sheet cakes, which was a vanilla cake layer and a chocolate cake layer separated by a fudge filling, with white buttercream on top. However, at this point, after all the pastries and cake and champagne, all I wanted (and needed for my blood sugar's sake) was a burger.
Italian pastries.

Mark your territory.
Overall, my favorite part of the night occurred in the cake receiving line. Even though the event's guests were dripping in couture and diamonds, when the hostesses ran out of forks and plates (they had about twenty-five. Great planning on their part."We're hosting an event for 200 people with a 10'x4'x4' cake from the freaking Cake Boss - how many plates and forks do we need - twenty-five? Yeah, sounds about right...") they were not above cutting a piece, palming it with their bejeweled hand, dropping it onto a napkin, and picking at it with their diamond-encrusted fingers to eat it. Oh! The magic of dessert! Doesn't matter how rich or cultured or proper you are - we all still have that primal tendency to swoop our finger over some frosting and lick it off :)

1 comment:

Courtney Schwitz said...

Love the references to Hoboken! This cake sounds amazing... minus the poor planning on their. It's great you got to attend the event!