Friday, July 18, 2014

RETURNING: Bakery Boss, now Buddy's Bakery Rescue

It's unclear why the title of this series changes from Bakery Boss to Buddy's Bakery Rescue between seasons, or why the runs are so short (season one ran seven episodes, this season will run six), but, regardless, Buddy Valastro is back at it again, helping small, family-run bakeries figure out what they need to do to get themselves back on their feet. As with last season, this ranges from making the menu more attractive to improving the look of the bakery to updating the equipment so they can update their recipes and designs. In the first half of this set of installments, we see all of these things, from a college town corner establishment to an airport cafe to a trendy upscale shoppe. Family conflicts seem to be a common issue for the bakeries, but I have to wonder what really sets one apart from another on this series...

Buddy's Bakery Rescue "Bing's Bakery" (S02E01): Bing's Bakery is the oldest running bakery (since 1946!) in Delaware, on Main Street in Newark near Delaware University. [sounds like they have a lot going for it already!] A new family bought it eight years ago, but they're not making money the way they should, and hit "shut-off" dates frequently, making ends meet only by being late on one payment to pay another. [that's the blue collar motto, no?] The place is dated, they have broken equipment, they owe about $650,000, but their products are good - Buddy rated the glace, strawberry cheesecake, carrot cake, and pecan danish as good, the french pastry as okay, the baba au rhum as too sweet and not authentic, and the brownie as tasting artificial. The variety of items they offer is really wide, and that's why they don't have "10" products, so Buddy's advice is for stop making the items that are only "5s."
Colleen Douglass/TLC
It's strange that the head baker is so headstrong about continuing to bake as many items as he does - they give away about 20% of their stuff to charity when it doesn't sell in 3-4 days. [that's a lot!] He doesn't want the place to look empty, so Buddy suggests they take out some shelves and showcases, but it takes hard math to convince Tom that they have $9,756 of product on the shelves, and because they don't take exact inventory of what sells, they're probably throwing away close to $2,000 twice per week. [they don't keep track of what sells?!??!] This is about double what Tom was guessing, so he agrees to trim the menu by about 20%.

Another big problem is that there are 16,000 students less than a mile away, but they don't come in. [I WISH there was a bakery that close to my college campus!] So, Buddy wants the bakery to update its menu to attract them, but first he has to convince the Bings that their items aren't working. The Bings make black-and-white cookies and cannolis, while Buddy makes brownies and pocket pastries, and they set up cameras to see which get taken in the university cafeteria... turns out, the eye-catching stuff wins! [duh.] The family decides that they need to change their black-and-white to school colors, add more types of coffee, and offer free wi-fi.

Buddy re-does the look of the place and fixes some of the equipment, and adds a cappuccino machine, a decorating station near the front window, and a better inventory system. [what was with the varying age of the bakery... 90, 60, 70 years old??] They also add in some menu items to draw the younger demographic: brownies, lemon-and-blueberry cake (for the school's colors), pocket pastries, cupcakes, peanut butter bar, oatmeal cream cookies, and smoothies. [so pocket pastries are like glorified PopTarts?]

Four months later, revenue is up, charity is reduced, and they have more college students in the place.

Buddy's Bakery Rescue "Grandma Millie's Bakery & Cafe" (S02E02): The bakery opened in 1999 and is in a small airport in Fulton County (upstate New York), and run by a mother, her two sons, and one of their wives. One of the sons went to culinary school and wants to update the menu, but mom wants to stick to comfort foods, like their signature apple pie. Although their location gives great views of planes taking off as well as vintage aircraft, there are days when they get ZERO customers. They survive on events, but "survive" is a manner of speaking, as their debt is near $200k. [the four of them not having equal shares in the company started off seeming to be a big deal, but that died out.]

When Buddy arrives, there's no pie available, and he judges the pineapple upside-down mini cake to be stale, the cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake to be gritty, and he won't even try the seasonal item, "autumn squares" (open-faced turnovers) of cream cheese, apple, and pumpkin in a puff pastry, because it looks gross. [what a terrible way to start! I gotta admit, none of that sounded good to me, either.] Of course, they're not working with top-of-the-line equipment, either... they don't have fondant tools, the mixer is bad, the oven leans, and they hardly ever clean the fridges and racks. So, the first order of business is for Buddy to ask everyone to pitch in and clean. Then, Jason, Chauncey, and Buddy all bake some items to take to the local Fall Fest to see what the community prefers. The family makes chocolate peanut butter petit fours and the "harvest squares" while Buddy offers fudge and pocket pies, which the people of Johnstown like. [labels would have helped the petit fours, I think.]

Chauncey still wants more respect before she'll let Jason take control of the kitchen, so Buddy asks Chancey to teach Jason her grandmother's apple pie recipe, which he hasn't been able to properly replicate before. Buddy also changes up the menu to be more colorful, with pocket pies, birthday cakes, apple pies, mini cobblers, fudges, airplane and cloud cookies, s'mores-on-a-stick, and cupcakes. [that sounds like a pretty balanced menu for a small shoppe.] This is helped by themed aviation decor, new equipment, a seating area to watch planes take off, new signage, a new display case, a fondant sheeter, more tools, and even a new van from a charity organization. [that's cool. was that also a new chef's uniform? and, where was Buddy making a joke about keeping all the new stuff clean, LoL?]  

Two months later, they're selling tons of cookies and pies, and they've booked a lot of parties. 

Buddy's Bakery Rescue "Pastry is Art" (S02E03): Jenny is Peruvian and has been doing pastries since she was 16, and has decided to run her own bakery in North Miami so she can spend more time with her son. [interesting reasoning.] They also make sandwiches in the shoppe, but Jenny doesn't let the other employees do it, so she's constantly pulled away from things during rushes. She has her employees try to bring in customers by acting sexy. [I liked the rolling pin door handle, but I was offended by the "sexy" thing!!] Buddy notes that nothing in the decor pops, so the pastry design is brought down. [good point.]

Operating costs are $12-15k/month, but they only make about $10k, so they're a little more than $90k in debt. The items in the display case are mis-labeled, but the flan cheesecake is great. The frasier has strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla, and is also good. The linzer tart isn't good, as the consistency is dry, but Jenny fights that. [and I instantly dislike her.] Buddy thinks that they should serve ice cream with their desserts, especially being in Miami, but Jenny thinks she'd need a new person just to do that, as she bought a used ice cream machine but has never tried it. [I'm rolling my eyes at how pathetic she thinks her employees must be!]

A plate breaks and a meal falls to the ground, and Jenny yells at the employee (her sister), which shows Buddy that management is the real problem. He sends home Jenny so he can try working with the others, and has them make a telenovela to show Jenny what she's like. [ha!] Then, he teaches Jenny to make gelatin decorations and discusses marketing with them, as they had been relying on word-of-mouth for advertising. [in Miami?!?] Buddy also sets Jenny up with an event gig so she can start doing more parties.

The redecoration features pictures of her pastries with descriptions, like an art gallery. [cool concept. this was definitely one of the more nuanced makeovers, too.] They also get some better appliances, and a few new desserts that are both visually striking and tropical: blueberry guanabana cake, jigsaw cake with gelatin on top, raspberry-orange cheesecake, chocolate joconde, tropical lady tart. [that jigsaw cake is neat, but I personally think it's tough to make.] He also hooks up their ice cream machine. [how tough was that, actually? also, for the re-opening, I don't consider that a "great crowd" in Miami.]

Three months later, they're selling a lot of the jigsaw cake, and sales are up 20%.
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