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Bartolo "Buddy" Valastro is the Cake Boss -- owner and head baker of Carlo's Bakery. He took over the bakery after his father's death. The shop is a family affair, as his sisters work at the front counter and the bakers include brothers-in-law and cousins. In earlier episodes, his mother is still handling the bakery's bookkeeping. In the latest seasons, the show afforded Buddy a new and more contemporary place to move their bakery into.
The normal pattern for an episode is two major cake orders, plus something related to Buddy's family. Which can involve more cake; Buddy is in charge of birthday cakes/bridal shower cakes/anniversary cakes for the clan, and once made 17 cakes when his oldest son's school had Take Your Dad To School day.
The show has spawned a spinoff, Next Great Baker. That show is a reality/contest show, with several bakers competing for prizes that include a multi-page spread in Brides Magazine.
This show contains examples of:
- Alliterative Episode Title
- Bridezilla: Where there are wedding cakes, there will be Bridezillas making life miserable for the bakery. (Buddy tries to avoid taking orders from them in the first place.)
- Butt Monkey: Cousin Anthony is very much this.
- Carrying a Cake: More often it's the fondant taking a dive, but there was one incident when a three-tiered cake went over the railing.
- Catch Phrase: Buddy's "Hoboken (or "Jersey") style BABY!"
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ralph, one of the cake decorators hired by Buddy in Season 3, is a bit...quirky.
- Crossover: With Say Yes to the Dress, when Buddy and Lisa decided to renew their wedding vows for their 10th anniversary.
- Don't Try This At Home: Invoked by Buddy when he did a test run on the fire-breathing tiki cake.
- Genre Savvy: Anthony's pretty good at knowing when he's going to get pranked, like the time they tried to throw the cake in his face. Turns into Death by Genre Savviness in his birthday episode, where he still gets dumped on despite knowing exactly what's coming.
- Gratuitous Italian: Debatable -- in the opening credits, Buddy refers to the crew at Carlo's as "mia famiglia". But he's first-generation Italian-American, his father emigrated from Sicily.
- I Ate What?: When Buddy made a cake for an animal shelter's fundraiser, he also made a special animal-diet-safe cake for the dogs. One of the bakery's delivery drivers was pranked by giving him a sample of the "dog cake" (which included actual dog food).
- Idiot Ball: The usual cause of bakery disasters. Suppose you could have measured the delivery truck to make sure that cake would fit inside before making it?
- In Memoriam: Long-time baker Salvatore Picinich died of cancer in early 2011. The episode that aired the next day was dedicated to Sal. A later episode included Buddy speaking at Sal's memorial Mass.
- Dead Guy, Junior: Carlos Salvatore Valastro.
- No Indoor Voice: None of the Valastros have an indoor voice.
- Pixellation: Used for the anatomically-accurate modeling chocolate figures on a bachelorette party cake. (Until Mama saw them and made the sculptors add shorts.)
- Product Displacement: In earlier episodes, Buddy had to refer to "cereal treats". Averted later on, when they got permission to say "Rice Krispy Treats".
- One Steve Limit: The Valastro family and extended family to do not believe in this.
- Secret Ingredient: Buddy has ordered the cameraman to stop filming a couple times, so Buddy can add a secret ingredient without the show's viewers learning what it is.
- Shown Their Work: In-Universe. Buddy obviously goes through great lengths to make his cakes look as wonderful as they taste. The prehistoric mammal cake for a museum comes to this Troper's mind.
- Or the Transformers cake for the car company. They had to work overnight in the special effects warehouse, because they didn't own freezers big enough to hold the cake. They made a seven-foot-long, eight-foot-tall cake overnight. With moving wings, light up bits, and a spinning blaster. The Holy Shit Quotient was broken.
- Title Drop: Happened during a Parental Lecture from Buddy's mother:
You may be the Cake Boss, but I'm the Boss Boss!
- Up to Eleven: Some customers seem to be trying to raise the bar on what Buddy can do. (The tiki-cake guy was a regular customer, and admitted that he was doing this.)
- Vacation Episode: Three of them, covering a Valastro trip to Italy.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The show basically runs on this.