Expect the fur — and flour — to fly this Sunday evening when local baker Gerard Fioravanti, owner of Huntington’s Fiorello Dolce, makes his national TV debut on the Food Network’s newest competitive cooking show.
Called “Bake You Rich,” and hosted by Buddy Valastro of TLC’s “Cake Boss,” the four-episode series will apparently hew closely to genre conventions: eager hopefuls (i.e., four bakers) participate in a series of challenges (three). Drama ensues, a judging panel is convened, a winner crowned. The wrinkle here, though, is what might be termed the viewer interactive element. At the end of each episode, the victorious baker “will have their dreams come true by the ‘Cake Boss,’ ” according to the network, “as their winning item will be available to order on [the] Carlo’s Bakery website immediately following the episode.”
Valastro is known by some as America’s favorite baker, and by others as the man behind singular confections such as a firetruck cake that actually puts out fires, a 14-foot-long alligator cake, and yes, a toilet bowl cake that really flushes. But behind those sugary oddities is a genuine Horatio Alger story, one that began decades ago with Valastro’s father — who didn’t even own a pair of shoes when he emigrated from Sicily — and reached stratospheric heights with the premiere of Buddy’s “Boss,” exactly 10 years ago this month. Now, Valastro is “paying it forward,” as the news release puts it, giving a few pastry chefs from around the country an “opportunity of a lifetime.”
What Fioravanti will bake on the show, and more importantly whether or not he wins, are both closely guarded secrets. Still, after hearing that his episode (title: “Baking Mashups”) would feature “innovative spins on muffins, cupcakes, doughnuts and bagels,” we couldn’t help but wonder if Fioravanti’s signature frenagle — that genius love child of croissant and bagel — is about to hit the big time.
We’re sure that the other contestants have something to offer — the doughnut guy from Delray Beach, Florida, say, or the cake specialist from Baltimore. There’ll even be an intramural rivalry of sorts, as Fioravanti is also competing against Crystal Williams of Norma’s Corner Shoppe in Ridgewood, Queens.
Still, talented though all may be, will the other bakers execute anything as complex and original as a frenagle, or whatever it is Fioravanti has planned? We — and his legion of followers in Huntington and beyond — are gonna say no to that.
“Bake You Rich” premieres on the Food Network this Sunday at 10 p.m., and the episode will be rebroadcast on April 21 at 5 p.m.