If I Knew You Were Coming…

by Kelly Boyce

Recently I went to see the movie Julie & Julia. The movie itself was wonderful, there are few people who can beat Meryl Streep on screen. But seeing this movie, I feel I must confess a secret: I have recently discovered that I am, in fact, a pretty good cook.

Now while this news may not seem shocking to you, most people who know me will likely be reading this and snorting in disbelief. Granted, their disbelief is warranted, steeped in well documented historical fact. You see, my foray into the cooking world did not always meet with stellar success. There was the instance of the over-cooked brownies that my father tacked to my bedroom wall like corkboard. Or the time I called my mother and asked her how to make green beans. From a can. I kid you not.

And, of course, there was the infamous green Kraft Dinner incident of 1983…

However, despite this rocky start, once I got over the idea of cooking as something I had to do and started looking at it as a fun and creative outlet, I started to take some chances. I made a French dish with shrimp and wine. I baked bread from scratch, boldly ignoring the bread maker sitting idle in the pantry closet. I made a banana coffee cake and on a whim substituted Skor bits for walnuts. I was mad with power!

But lately, I have felt the pressing need to ply my skills in a totally different area. I want to bake and decorate cakes. I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of The Cake Boss.

The Cake Boss, if you haven’t seen it, is this great show on TLC about Buddy Valastro, the master baker at Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. I’m pretty sure he has every relative under the sun working with him at the bake shop and while some people might turn their nose up at nepotism; this crew knows what they are doing. Aside from the drama only an Italian family can bring you, the cakes they make each episode are nothing short of pure genius. This is not food, it’s art. I often find myself staring at the finished masterpieces with my mouth agape – not my best look, by the way.

Over the summer, I sat glued to the TV watching Buddy and crew, and the urge to try this myself grew with every new episode. Picture me on my couch squealing in a voice that would make any 5-year old proud, “I wanna do it too!!”

So to quench my thirst for yet another creative form of expression (or a reason to eat lots of cake), I have signed up for Course I of the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating being held at the local Michael’s Craft Store. This will give me the basics and there are three more courses after that one.

You would think writing would be a creative enough outlet, but I guess not. Why, I’m positively giddy at the prospect of working with fondant…

Who knew a movie about Julia Child, and Buddy Valastro could combine to create such cooking zeal in someone who used to avoid the kitchen at all costs?


  1. Hey Kelly: I absolutely love Cake Boss! it's one of my fave reality shows. I can't believe his cakes are edible as well - they are so gorgeous. He truly is an artist. I also enjoyed Julie and Julia and found it inspiring. I applaud you! I love that your stepping into the world of fondant and modeling chocolate! BTW I love how Buddy says CHAAWWWWclate in his Queens accent.

    And all great cooks make mistakes along the way - that's what makes great cooks - the willingness to get your hands dirty and try new things. I remember when I was a kid I made chocolate chip cookies for the first time. I think the recipe asked for 1 tsp of baking soda but I added 1 tbsp by mistake. You can imagine what they tasted like - but I've baked a mean cookie since then. ;D

  2. Kelly - you're killing me...!

    'on a whim substituted Skor bits for walnuts. I was mad with power!'

    'staring at the finished masterpieces with my mouth agape – not my best look, by the way'

    'Why, I’m positively giddy at the prospect of working with fondant…'


    Is it a shocker that my mom has been to see Julie & Julia twice and adores The Cake Boss? I caught part of one episode where the poor kid lost the cake like the tripping chef from Sesame Street. Talk about an amazing crew snapping to work on the replacement cake.

  3. My daughter Natalie (who is six) is addicted to the Food Network. It's her favorite channel. Her favorite shows are the cake contests! She picks the winner every time. It's hilarious to hear a 6 year old say things like "Those roses are stunning!"...she wants to be a cake decorator when she grows up, so I'm thinking...cooking school in Paris????

  4. Hey Kelly

    Lol, I think kids are bitten by the cooking bug! My 6 year old son wants to be a chef when he grows up, loves watching everything foodie. I told him, just don't swear like Gordon Ramsay, please!

    I haven't seen the cake program since I'm not in the US, but I do know what you're talking about. I was watching this French show not so long ago where they made these cakes that were true masterpieces. Like Joanna said, you have a hard time believing they're edible! And you'd feel sorry to eat it because you'd have to cut it and break this beauty. Oh well, but then if the cake tastes good, that overrides it all, innit?

    Best of luck with your decoration classes.



  5. I've never watched the show but it sounds like a good one. :)

  6. LOVE Cake Boss. I took that cake decorating course but I came to the conclusion that I like to admire (and eat) beautifully decorated cakes but I don't actually like to MAKE them. Too messy and eat way too much icing.

    Same with gardening. Since I like gardens and flowers, I thought I'd like to garden. Actually, I don't. So, I've made peace with my garden of weeds.


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