Interview: Cake Boss‘ Buddy Valastro Talks Family & Crazy Cakes
You wouldn't believe what Buddy had to do on his first day at Carlo's Bakery.
Buddy Valastro and his Carlo’s Bakery crew create amazing cakes of all shapes and sizes. Family always comes first and Buddy’s team includes his four sisters, two brothers-in-law, cousins and the family matriarch, the late Momma Mary. Along with expert bakers, decorators and sculptors, the family members are challenged each week to make the most extraordinary and creative cakes.
From mechanical cakes, meaningful cakes, meat cakes and everything in between for 9 seasons, the Valastros prove that when family works together anything and everything is possible.
Recently, we caught up with Buddy Valastro over the phone for a little chat. Here’s what went down:
Q: Have you always seen yourself as a baker?
A: Honestly from a little boy I wanted to be a baker because I idolised my dad, and he was a baker. I wanted to be like him and I attribute my success to having my dream job. I believe if you have the right job that you love, I think that that’s the only way to become successful. So I am happy to be a baker and I have always wanted to be. So it’s been a great thing for me to become one.
Q: What is your favourite combination of ingredients?
A: I like a vanilla cake with fresh cream, fresh strawberries and chocolate ganache. That’s my favourite filling combo. I think the strawberries balance well with the cream and just a little bit of chocolate so it’s not overwhelmingly chocolatey. It’s yum, yum, give me some.
Q: What are the best and worst parts of your job?
A: The best part is knowing that I make people happy. When you make somebody a cake and they see what you did it’s just a pay-off of satisfaction, you know. Especially that now I’m inspiring people to want to bake or – when I hear a ten-year-old kid tell me that I’m their inspiration or their hero that makes me feel so special. The worst part of my job is probably the long hours, you know. I mean, just trying to keep everything going and make everything work, it takes a lot, you know. It’s a lot of different moving parts.
Q: You should know best that working with family members isn’t as easy as it seems. So how do you do it? How do you keep the peace with each other even when times are bad?
A: If you want a sister I’ll send you one! (laughs) To be honest with you, nobody’s going to work as hard as your family or care the way that your family cares. But the problem is that they take it personal. And if you take business personal it becomes hard – you know what I’m trying to say? Like, that’s the problem.
In growing a business, you know, the – if something goes wrong you – it’s business, you know. It’s one of the things you have to look at. So it’s good and bad. I could tell you that the one thing with my family is we don’t ever go to bed mad. Like, if we fight we get rid of it, like, we end it, you know. It’s one of those things where it is what it is. And we talk through our problems. So even though we fight we always get over it and make up.
Q: To date, what’s the best cake you’ve ever made? Which cake are you most proud of?
A: The cake that I think was the best we ever made was probably the Transformer cake. I mean, I was very, very happy with that one and I think that it was really, really beautiful. I remember finishing it and just looking at it from afar and crying. And saying to myself, ‘I wish my dad could’ve seen this cake.’ I could never have dreamt of making a cake like that 20 years ago. The fact that we were able to do it is pretty amazing.
Q: What was the first thing your father asked you to do at the bakery when you first came in?
A: I’ll never forget it. I asked him if I was going to make wedding cakes or pastries, he then brought me in the bathroom and made me clean the toilet bowl. It’s a true story! He said to me that he wanted me to know what it was like to be the guy cleaning the toilet bowl. When I said to him, “Are you kidding me?” he was like, “Why? You think you’re too good for it?”’ And he used to tell me things like, ‘You have to take the same amount of pride as cleaning the toilet bowl as you do in making a wedding cake.” It’s a lesson I use today for life.
Q: Tell us more about the new season of Cake Boss.
A: Well, you can expect the new season to have a lot of – a lot of really what’s going on in my life right now. You know, my kids getting bigger, my business expanding. We have some great cakes that we’re doing. And the one thing that has been really different is that my mum passed away this season and you’ll see a really nice tribute to her.
When my mum died I really didn’t care about filming or anything like that because I just lost my mum. But I felt like I had an obligation to the fans to show something and when I saw the episode it was really, really well done. It was a special tribute to her.