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'Bakery Boss' assists ‘Oteri’s Italian Bakery’ in Philly on TLC

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Last night's episode of “Bakery Boss” found Buddy Valastro at “Oteri’s Italian Bakery” in North Philadelphia, Pa. This bakery has been in the family for a hundred years. It is run by Lisa Oteri-Collier and her fiance Jimmy Flood.

Lisa is the fourth generation in the bakery, and Jimmy has worked there since he was about 14. Lisa’s father took Jimmy off the street corner and made him work. He told him that he did not want him to be a bum. He was like a second father to Jimmy. They have sixty employees who depend on them for their living.

Lisa’s father passed away about eight years ago, and many people thought they closed or sold to new owners. Lisa wants to keep the legacy alive and asked Buddy for help. When he arrived, he was greeted like family by a woman named Irene. As he looked around, he noticed that the place had no true identity, although he did notice that the cake decorating was excellent.

Buddy met with Lisa and the rest of the family, Jimmy explained how they used to do all the wedding cakes for the caterers in Philly, and much of their business was high volume. Financially, they either break even or lose from five to ten thousand. Buddy stated that this could be a landmark bakery in Philly, and everyone should know about this bakery.

After speaking with the family, Buddy had Irene serve him some specialties. He asked for tiramisu, a staple of every Italian bakery, but they did not have it. So he tried a cream puff, when she put it on a plate, it was the biggest cream puff he ever saw and the price was $2.75. Shocked at the low price and humongous size, he tasted it and told Irene that it should be filled with custard, not whipped cream, and not imitation whipped cream! He sent Irene back to ask if they used heavy cream in the filling? He told her it was whipped topping. He then tried a piece of German chocolate cake that he abhorred; it was old; the raspberry filling was so artificial it made him cringe. Next he tried anisette biscotti; that is a softer biscotti, but it was hard and undercooked. Irene then brought him the best cannoli in the city. However, Buddy disagreed and then met with the family.

Buddy told them that he was not blown away by the food. Although they seemed to accept his criticism, they were pissed. None of the family wanted to change the cannoli cream, and Buddy knew that Tom’s legacy was in jeopardy as were the feelings of the family. He told them that when his father passed away, he had to change some of the old recipes to adapt to modern times. All agreed that changing the cannoli cream was against their tradition. Jimmy even challenged Buddy to a blind taste test. With New Jersey not that far from Philly, Buddy had his cannoli shells brought in from Hoboken to go against theirs, and the two guys proceeded to make their specialty cannoli cream. Jimmy knows he is going to win because he has been making cannolis longer than Buddy has been alive, in fact, Buddy is just a pup to him, and Jimmy feels that Buddy will be asking for his recipe. The customers will decide, as Buddy and Jimmy stayed out of sight, so not to influence the testers. Buddy’s cannolis won by a landslide with no hard feelings.

Then he brought the entire baking crew together who had told him how interested they were in making custom cakes. Next Buddy introduced his friend Geno Vento; the owner of the famous cheesesteak concession in Philly called Geno’s Steaks. Geno announced to the bakery staff that they were celebrating their 47th birthday, and he wanted a super special cake to honor the celebration. It will be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the Rocky steps are. This cake will have to feed 2,000 people, and they know that by making custom cakes, they can get back on their feet in no time. Oh, by the way, the event is tomorrow night!

They know it is going to be a long night, but hopefully, worth it. While the bakery was preparing this awesome Cheesesteak cake, Buddy met with his designer to redo the front of the bakery.

Buddy then went on the tour of the bakery and saw the busy workers cranking out their wares. The next day, when the family saw the front of the bakery, they were amazed that it was transformed into something so impressive. Now nobody in Philly could miss this place. The large sign showed that they were around since 1904 and planned to stay. Inside, the redesign was amazing and the painting of Tom was clearly displayed along with family photos. Then Buddy showed them the updated new items, and he offered them his personal cannoli recipe.

As the Philly Cheesesteak cake was near completion, it was so heavy that they feared it would not make it into the truck, but Buddy backed the truck up, and it made it to the museum in once piece. The crowd at the museum was thrilled to see this giant cake and wish Geno’s a happy 47th anniversary.

The bakery gained several hundred more customers, thanks to the publicity they received and after three months, the place is thriving, thanks to Buddy, the “Bakery Boss” and his staff.

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