Each week we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with televised cooking. This week: Have Cake, Will Travel, a half-hour show about reaching for the bottom, Fridays at 4 a.m. on the Food Network.
Dear Food Network,
So it's four in the morning, and I'm crushing Oxy. What do you suggest?
--So Tired Of Nigella, Emeril & Deen
How about a sad blonde lady and the dumb cake she made? It's on at 4 a.m. Isn't that weird? Go to bed.
-- Food Network
When Ace of Cakes was cancelled I did not cry. A sigh, perhaps, because Chef Duff could reliably hold my interest until commercial. Actually, it was not so much Chef Duff as his sullen band of sad hipster-artists, living the dream baking cakes in Baltimore for a boss whose facial hair toured with Anthrax. The hipster-artists were fun to watch and seemed to enjoy making cakes, drifting through the shop like the air was made of molasses, mumbling about owls and bicycle frames and Dan Deacon, until Ace of Cakes was nevermore and they were cast back into the cafes and food co-ops and urban henneries from whence they came.
Or they're still working at Charm City Cakes. Probably that.
Anyway, the point is, they cancelled Duff's cake show and launched Have Cake, Will Travel. What a terrible fucking show it is.
Cake-maker Ashley Vicos is the star. She has big blonde hair, all kinds of makeup, and very little personality. She and her typecast crew travel the country making big stupid cakes. People who probably should be fired include: Whoever came up with the name Have Cake, Will Travel and whoever thought making a big stupid cake for the Harlem Globetrotters and wheeling it out to a quarter-full stadium in sadland (Cleveland?) for the episode "Ashley's Got Game" would NOT be the single most depressing thing on television at 4 a.m., Susan Lucci's Malibu Pilates Chair be dammed.
Again: This show airs at 4 a.m., once a week. Compare that to Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which blasted through 16 episodes -- not last month, not last week, but yesterday. It was not a marathon. It was a Monday. It'll happen again on Friday with 16 more episodes starting at 6 p.m. Why? Because the Food Network does not give a shit. Related: How fucked is the Food Network?
Blame can placed all around, sprinkled like confectionery sugar -- mostly on Ashley's flamboyant "too personal assistant" (actual title), who just stands around and looks dizzy. His big line on "Ashley's Got Game" came halfway in: "The kitchen I found for Ashley, it's gorgeous, it's huge. It's everything she needs, in a kitchen and in a man!" He nearly bowed.
What else happened? I don't even know. The intern microwaved chocolate, which led to a fight. The sugar lady made sugar, which led to a fight. The intern couldn't use power tools, which led to a fight. Everyone went to a club in to watch some scary fan sing a song about Ashley, and he sang the song, and it was bad, and everyone got depressed and left their drinks where they were and went home.
The next day they wheeled the cake out to the Globetrotters in a venue at 13 percent capacity, ashamed they had gone to watch a crazy sing a bad song about their sad show and ashamed that everything had come to this, with the Harlem Globetrotters over there dribbling fart balls and all people getting shitcanned over the terrible decisions everyone made with this dumb show.
But during the episode nobody, none of them, ever baked a cake. Nobody turned on the oven, nobody mixed batter, nobody wondered what flavors the Globetrotters might like, nobody pulled the cake out and checked for doneness, nobody said, "Mmm, that looks delicious, Ashley. You've got game, bitch!"
Nobody said a single thing about taste and flavor and baking whatsoever, because that's the cake-show world we live in now, in which someone unpacks a few yards of sheet cake when no one is looking -- I saw two seconds of it -- and everybody throws junk on it, steels rods and motors and flags and sugar stars and chocolate canons, until it looks like a party store threw up on it and everyone can finally stop and cry it out.
This show is a nonstarter, and cake-show world is broken. You did this, Duff, didn't you?
Previously, Michael Leaverton watched: