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Curiocity: Cooking With The ‘Cake Boss’

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(credit: Thomas Kosa Photography)

(credit: Thomas Kosa Photography)

Sara Boyd Sara Pelissero
Sara Pelissero joined the WCCO web team in August of 2009. You can...
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In order to earn the title, “Cake Boss,” you better know what you’re doing and be darn good at it.

Luckily for TLC reality TV star, Buddy Valastro, both cakes and being a boss was something he was not only passionate about, but something he was born into.

As a fourth generation baker, Valastro owns and operates Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey — making crazy creations and delicious desserts while honoring his father’s legacy. While simply cooking creative concoctions would be enough to entertain, Valastro’s hilarious and yes, colorful, Italian family brings the show to a whole different level.

As part of the “Bakin’ with the Boss Tour,” the master baker himself will head to Minneapolis next week for a live, interactive show. But before he takes the Orpheum Theatre stage, Valastro was kind enough to answer some of our burning questions.

Q: You’ve certainly been asked to create some pretty crazy cakes on your show, “Cake Boss,” on TLC. But if you had to pick just one, what would you say was the most difficult cake you’ve done?

A: There have been so many cakes that were challenging, but I think the Transformers cake was one of the most difficult I’ve ever made. With the exception of a few small supports, the entire stand up portion and wings were made of cake — and it moved! The cake was actually so big that we had to assemble it on site.

Q: It seems like America has a new fascination with cakes and cake making. Why do you think that is?

A: Making cakes is something anyone can try, no matter how young or old. I think that it involves so many interesting aspects that challenge people: math, logic, creativity. Everyone loves a good challenge.

Q: It seems baking was something you were literally born into, but how old were you when you realized you wanted to make and decorate cakes? What was it about cakes that got you hooked?

A: My father would always bring me into the bakery when I was younger, and he would put me to work. I learned how to do just about every job at the bakery, and my father taught me how to decorate cakes. I remember one moment when I was 15 or 16, and he asked me to do a wedding cake by myself. That’s the moment I knew that I had met his standard — no one gets to decorate cakes until they’ve been approved. For me, there’s something very calming about putting a cake together. That’s why I enjoy it so much.

buddy in front of bakery hi res Curiocity: Cooking With The Cake Boss

(credit: Thomas Kosa Photography)

Q: How has your life changed since being on “Cake Boss?”

A: I get recognized a lot more, but I still do a lot of things the same. No matter how busy everything gets, I always make time for the important things: cake and family.

Q: Being a bride myself, I can somewhat understand the bridezillas you have to work with but some of them seem simply unreal. What’s the most challenging part of doing wedding cakes and what makes it worth it for you in the end?

A: One of my favorite things is to work with brides-to-be, because it is such an honor that they ask me to make such an important cake. The goal is to capture what the couple envisions — is the design classic, modern, floral? I try to encourage brides to incorporate a personal detail into their cake. We can mimic the lace details on her dress, weave in her favorite flower or make them a custom cake topper. The possibilities are endless.

Q: And speaking of weddings, you recently had a second wedding yourself. Congrats! What was that experience like for you — and did you make a second wedding cake?

A: Thank you! My wife and I decided to renew our vows for our 10th wedding anniversary. It was really nice. We went on a cruise with the family and had a little ceremony. I did make a cake to celebrate, but you’ll have to tune in to “Cake Boss” to see it!

Q: OK, fair enough. Still, it seems cake decoration and techniques have come a long way over the years. What do you think is next — or where do you see cake creations going in the future?

A: It really depends on what the client is looking for. I’ve noticed a trend with miniature desserts, especially individual-sized cakes. The baking business is always evolving, and we love having clients come in for a consultation to discuss how we can make their vision come true.

Q: What can fans expect from your upcoming show at the Orpheum Theatre?

A: I have such a great time doing the live show — visiting with fans, demonstrating some of my tricks and having a good time with the audience. The show is part decorating, part story-telling. I want people to go home feeling like they’ve seen a different side of my business.

Q: Your new book, “Baking with the Cake Boss” is aimed at the home cook and gives tips and tricks that you learned in your apprenticeship at Carlo’s Bakery. For the home cook that might be a bit intimidated by cakes, what advice would you give to help them tackle their first cake?

A: I want to make everyone comfortable with being in the kitchen. For “Baking with the Cake Boss,” my goal is to show people the step-by-step process of making some of my favorite desserts. There are hundreds of pictures that give a visual example of how to do certain techniques, and lots of little secrets sprinkled throughout the book to help the home baker. My best advice is to be fearless and try out a recipe!

“Bakin’ with the Cake Boss” begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Tickets range between $29.75 and $45.75, and are on sale now at the State Theatre Box Office (805 Hennepin Ave.), online at HennepinTheatreTrust.org, or by calling 1.800.982.2787 or visiting a Ticketmaster Center. Catch Buddy Valastro Sunday night with Susie Jones on News Radio 830 WCCO’s News and Views.

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