With a career spanning decades, renowned American pastry chef Buddy Valastro has delighted fans across the globe with his wild and extravagant cakes on the DStv channel TLC. Now the critically acclaimed Cake Boss will be bringing his frosting and fondant sweetness to Nigeria for the first time, writes Vanessa Obioha
Buddy Valastro is one of the most electrifying stars of the American lifestyle television channel, TLC on DStv. Since the debut of his programme ‘The Cake Boss’ in 2009, the American baker has accumulated fans from all over the world with his infectious aura and outrageous creations.
Whether he is whipping cream or deconstructing a gigantic creation, Valastro lits up the screen. It is in the way he embraces every challenge, no matter how daunting; the humour he shares with his employees, mostly his family members; and the delight in his eyes when he parades his creation for all to see in a crowded street or park.
An Italian by birth, Valastro comes from a family of bakers. His late father owned a baking shop and though the older Valastro didn’t force his son to pursue a career in baking, he however ensured that he learnt the craft.
“I just wanted to be exactly like my father so that’s why I went with it, but then I suddenly realized, I was good at it and I knew it was for me,” he said recently in a chat.
And indeed, he’s been excellent with it, turning his family small bakery, Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey, into an empire, from a young age of 17, shortly after his father’s death. Putting his father’s words into practice, Valastro made a name and living for himself with his cake designs. It was only a matter of time before the lifestyle channel TLC approached him to have a cake show on the platform. ‘Cake Boss’ followed the lives of Valastro and his family as they wave their magical wand on edible art cakes. It was strictly a family affair. That show catapulted Valastro to stardom. He was beamed not only to Americans but to millions of fans across the globe who stay glued to their screen, anticipating the family drama and most importantly, his next creation. The show eventually earned him the moniker ‘Cake Boss’ which has remained indelibly in the minds of many.
To state that Valastro’s cake designs are artistic is an understatement, it is unimaginable and extravagant. Once, he made an edible dollhouse cake, then there was the little mermaid cake, the iconic Statue of Liberty cake he made last year, and of course the gnarly shark cake which he made last April. The latter has over four million views on YouTube.
He is on the top list of celebrities who wants a taste of his frosting and fondant. And they pay handsomely for his services. It is widely reported that Valastro’s most expensive cake cost a whopping sum of $30 million. The vanilla cake which he made for a New York socialite Devorah Rose was studded with precious stones such as emeralds, sapphires, diamonds and rubies.
While that cake may have made him smile to the bank, the cake that however holds a special place in his heart is his 12-foot-tall Transformer cake in 2011. The Camaro-Bumblebee cake weighed 1,500 pounds, and was made of yellow sponge cake, Rice Crispy Treats, buttercream frosting, and yellow and black frosting for the Transformers figure. The unique cake had moving wings, lights and pyrotechnics.
Valastro and his team worked on it for four days and had to decorate their sweet creation in a warehouse, because their 10,000 square-foot bakery simply wasn’t big enough. “This is the hardest cake I’ve ever done, but it’s probably the one I’m most proud of,” the Cake Boss said about his delicious masterpiece.
And in a few days time, Valastro will be displaying his creativity to Nigerians. He will be arriving in the country on September 3 for the Uncut Learning with Ezinne of DewDrops where he will have a special masterclass with Nigerian bakers.
“I’m really honored and excited to get to work with Ezinne. She’s a very talented cake decorator. Her technique is very precise and I love her work!”
It is the first time he will be coming to the West African country.
“I have never been to Nigeria but I’ve met so many fans and friends from Nigeria. Some on social media, others come to my bakery shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. I have come to learn that cake decorating and baking is incredibly popular in this area, I see so much coming out of there! They are amazing and it’s crazy. I’m really intrigued to visit.”
Having traversed the globe, Valastro believes that like music, food is a great unifying tool.
“Nothing brings families together like food! It’s always amazing to see how much cake artists from all over the world have in common – different climates, different materials, different tools, but always incredible cakes!”
But more importantly, he discovered that in every culture he had come across, that family plays a vital role.
“I love to see how warmly welcomed I am wherever I go and be given the chance to embrace the culture, and I think that’s because people relate me to family. I can’t wait to experience this in Lagos!” he enthused.
Having spent decades in the baking business, Valastro pointed out that “Being a baker makes life sweeter because I’m in the business of making people happy. When you make someone a cake and you see the expression on their face, it leaves you in awe. When you challenge yourself to create things that seem impossible, it really gives you a sense of accomplishment.”
Apart from his penchant for pastries, Valastro has also flexed his muscles in the restaurant business. He has a chain of restaurants across the United States which menus pay homage to his Italian heritage. He also hosted the American TV show ‘Kitchen Boss’ from 2011-2012 where he cooked various Italian-American dishes from his family’s recipes. Valastro was usually joined in the kitchen by members of his family and other special guests.
His newest show ‘Bake You Rich’ will be premiering on DStv on October 5. The one hour long show will feature episodes where four aspiring pastry chefs compete in the factory kitchen, where they are tested on their delicious food and valuable business skills. Valastro and his trusty panel of rotating judges including Chad Durkin, Erin McGinn, Vincent Tubito and Buddy’s wife, Lisa Valastro will evaluate their work. The winner will have a lifetime opportunity to have their unique and decorative creations sold at Valastro’s shop.