American celebrity chef Buddy Valastro or better known as Cake Boss, visited Malaysia recently to promote the new season of “Cake Boss”, a reality TV series that follows the operations of Carlo’s Bake Shop, which is owned by Buddy and his family.
Inspired by his father’s way of teachings and life, Buddy got his interest in baking by working with his father at Carlo’s bakery at a very young age.
“My dad never said to me that I have to be a baker, he took me to work because he wanted me to learn the work ethic, so that I know what it’s like to work,” Buddy said during a media conference at Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.
“Sometimes the lessons that he taught me in life, I try to teach to my kids. The things that he taught really defined and made me who I am today.”
|Teenage Buddy Valastro and his father.
(Photo source: Buddy’s Facebook)
After his father passed away, Buddy had to drop out of high school at the age of 17 to run the bakery.
“When you’re punch with an extreme circumstance, it’s either that you sink or swim, and for my circumstance, because I was still a kid, it made me believe that everything was achievable.”
“One of the things that I teach my kids is that, there is no can’t, it’s how,” he added.
The 39-year-old baker is truly the same in person as how he is on the show; friendly, inspiring, funny and humble, he even offered the Malaysian little chef Leah a chance to appear on his show!
“Honestly, it was the way I was raised. I was raised to never forget where you come from because you’re never too big for something.”
Here are some other things that he had shared during his visit to Malaysia.
As a fourth generation baker, Buddy Valastro got into the cake-making business due to the influence of his father, who was encouraged by his father (AKA Buddy’s grandpa) to be a baker. Buddy’s father, Bartolo Valastro Sr, started working in Carlo’s bakery owned by Carlo Guastaffero, since he was 13.
13 years later in 1964, Bartolo bought the bakery from Mr Carlo who owned it since 1910, but he decided to keep the original name of the bakery because it was already established.
Even though Mr Carlo had a son, his son didn’t want to be a baker and went to work for NASA instead.
“So my dad took over the bakery and it’s been in my family ever since, and it’s funny because sometimes I meet Carlo’s son who worked for NASA, and he comes to me and says, ‘Man, I couldn’t be more proud of what you did with my father’s name!’”
Buddy had also named his youngest son, Carlo Valastro after the bakery.
|Buddy with his wife and children.
(Photo source: Buddy’s Facebook)
Buddy Valastro has travelled the world to promote the show and to make Carlo’s Bake Shop a household name.
The series was so popular that it has been viewed in 220 different countries and territories all over the world, dubbed in 45 languages, and has been seen by over one and half billion people globally.
Buddy believes that the show can resonate with so many different cultures in so many different places and regions around the world, due to the family element.
“I think that no matter where you go in the world, family is such a strong presence and everybody relates to that. Although in Cake Boss we fight and argue all the time, but at the end of the day, we’re family, and I think that people can relate to that.”
According to Buddy Valastro, the family members alone makes up of at least 15 to 20 people of his staff.
“There’re too many! I’m going to give you guys a sister or two!” [laughs]
Currently, there are 13 Carlo’s bakeries in the United States, and with the restaurants, production companies and more, Buddy has already over a thousand people working for him.
|All the siblings, cousins and relatives of Buddy Valastro.|
“When I think of a cake for you on your birthday, what I really want to do is to tell it for you. So whether it’s going to be your style, colour theme, or whatever’s that special in your life, I would apply that to your cake. I would want to know your favourite things!”
Buddy confesses that he never considers himself as a chef, even though he does cook, starred in Kitchen Boss and even owns restaurants in Las Vegas and Transylvania.
He just considers himself a really good home cook and he never had prior professional training.
“What we do in my restaurants is that we want to bring a home experience to the diners. I want you to feel like, my mom, or my grandma or my dad are cooking for you. I want you to taste homemade and authentic, approachable Italian cuisine.”
However, when it comes to baking, Buddy consider himself as a master baker, because to him, baking is just like “walking or breathing”, which shows how much he knows about baking.
But to him, what separates a great baker or chef from the rest is the extra steps that put them above the rest.
“You have to really care about what you’re doing and even if it takes you longer, even if you have to redo it, you’ve got to feel good about what you’re doing, because that’s what makes you better and stronger.”
|Buddy at Starhill Gallery hotel.|
With “Cake Boss” entering its eight season, Buddy Valastro have already make thousands of cakes. But one particular cake which he was really proud of was the “Transformers” Bumblebee cake he made about 4 years ago.
The cake was made for a Chevrolet auto show, and Buddy and his team had worked for 3 days straight, and 18 hours a day.
“I’ll never forget the moment when we finished the cake, it was about 4 in the morning, and we needed to deliver it at 6AM. I stepped back and I looked at the cake. I started crying and I said to myself, ‘Man, I wish my dad can see this cake.’ I couldn’t even fathom doing anything like that. I didn’t think it was possible but the fact that we did it, makes it a special moment.”
|Buddy has the picture of the cake as his screensaver.
(Photo source: pinterest.com)
On “Cake Boss”, Buddy and his team have been getting all sort of strange requests throughout the show, and some seem to be really impossible to make.
There’re requests which ask him to make a toilet bowl cake that flushes, a life-size cow cake, a snow globe cake which needs to incorporate a hairdryer in it – but despite all the strange and impossible requests he has received, Buddy managed to make it all happen.
But the hardest and most technical cake in his opinion was the Nascar cake in 2011, because it was the actual size of a car, weighing around 20 thousand pounds.
“That one was really hard and honestly, I tell people that all the time. I wish we can do it all over again, because I learned a lot from that, and I think that if we can do it again, we would definitely be a lot more efficient, and do a better job this time around.”
|It took 4 days and 56 people to make this cake.
(Photo source: liveoutloud.co.za)
Turns out, Buddy is just like every one of us. He gets inspiration from people posting on social media and websites like Pinterest and Facebook, and sometimes he even Googles them. But instead of relying on just one recipe, he would mix and match.
“I’ve always been a fan of sharing. When I see someone copying my cakes, I look at it as an honour. I won’t think that the person is not good enough for ripping my ideas, I’m more about sharing.”
Buddy also said that his inspiration can come from anything!
“I can see a dress flowing on a girl, and thinking I could do the same thing on my cake, but with fondant. I see architecture, like the Malaysian twin towers here, and I think that they’re amazing. The closer you get to them the more details you see.”
Seeing all the unusual cakes on “Cake Boss”, it is obvious that there are a lot of architectural elements in them, but if we talked about Buddy’s favourite inspiration, it’s got to be nature, as Buddy is all about being healthy and his colour coordination is always amazing.
|Buddy demonstrating cup cake-decorating in less than a minute.|
The goal of the television show was to make Carlos bakery a household name and that was also the legacy that Buddy had promised his dad, and after eight seasons of “Cake Boss”, it is now known all over the world.
But the new legacy is now to have Carlo’s bakery on every continent, which Buddy believes will be happening within the next five years, and they’re already opening one in Bauru, Brazil.
“I also think that I would love to have it here in Malaysia. I think now that I’m here for the first time, and kind of engaging the fans and the awareness of the show, and getting the feel of the city and the culture, because honestly, until you’re really in it, you don’t know it.”
|The first Carlo’s bakery to open outside of America is in Brazil.
(Photo source: Buddy’s Facebook)
“It’s funny because, two doors down from the bakery, we have a restaurant called Satay, which is a Malaysian cuisine, and we get lunch there often. I think the food is good, but I can’t compare to like real Malaysian food. But I’m excited to eat and taste the flavour here.”