TLC Cake Boss
Meet chef Buddy Valastro, pastry artist and owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J. For Buddy Valastro, 34, mixing eggs, sugar, butter, and flour means a lot more than "making a cake." As a fourth-generation baker, it’s a constant source of pleasure, pride, and creativity. Creating amazing cakes connects Valastro with the memory of his father Buddy Sr. and his extended Italian family history. His talent and passion for the family business, Carlo’s Bakery, has earned the straight-talking cake expert the moniker, and TLC TV show Cake Boss. We had the pleasure to spend some time with Valastro and his family in their Lackawanna Bakery as we planned for an event we are working on with him and his team.
Direct from the Cake Boss himself, we learned what drives Valastro's passion for the pastry business and what makes him tick.
JustLuxe: At what point in your life did you decide to become a pastry chef/baker? What influenced you to do so?
Buddy Valastro: My father was my biggest influence. He taught me everything I know about baking and business. When I was 17 years old my father passed and I took over the bakery. I worked to make Carlo’s a staple in Hoboken and I’m still working to make it bigger and better.
JL: If you could give a word of advice to an aspiring baker or pastry chef, what would you say?
BV: Practice, practice, practice. It’s the only thing that will get you where you want to be.
JL: How has Cake Boss on TLC changed your life and the bakery?
BV: The show has been great. I always knew I wanted to grow Carlo’s into a household name and the show is part of that. Life is busy, but it always is when you work with family! Now we have a few more people around with cameras, but they’re like family to us anyway.
JL: How many employees do you now have at Carlo's and how has Lackawanna changed the business?
BV: Right now we’ve got about 170 employees all together, some at Carlo’s in Hoboken and some at Lackawanna. Lackawanna has allowed me to expand the business in a big way with more space and tools to tackle the volume we’re doing. Soon enough, I’m hoping to achieve another of my goals, shipping nationwide.
JL: Did you attend a culinary school at any point in your career?
BV: I went to the school of Buddy Valastro Sr, my father. Best teacher you could ask for.
JL: What most gives you inspiration when coming up with a new cake design?
BV: It depends on what I’m designing for. If it’s for my family, I think about their favorite things, what they would want to see. If it’s for an event, I take the vision of my client first and use my experience to best recreate that in a cake.
JL: What places, people, or cities influence your baking and new product ideas most?
BV: My family for sure! And you know my Italian heritage definitely influences me. I also keep my customers in mind, cause we’re still a neighborhood bakery, we do it Hoboken style!
JL: In your opinion, what innovation has recently influenced the baking industry in a significant way and how might that change the way you think about creating new pastries or cakes in the future?
BV: You know, even though Carlo’s Bakery has been using it for a while, fondant is a huge tool that has changed the baking industry. We can make the wildest ideas come true on our cakes with this material. It really helps when I’m thinking up a new cake because fondant holds up the way traditional icing can’t.
JL: What is your favorite pastry to prepare at home as opposed to what you may make at Carlo's?
BV: I love to make donuts actually. We don’t make them too often at the bakery, but my father’s recipe is the best. They’re great for weekends at home with the kids, especially during the winter, with that cinnamon scent around the house.
JL: Besides pastry, what other passions do you have?
BV: Fishing, I love it!
To learn more about Carlo’s Bakery visit CarlosBakery.com.
— Gabe Greenberg, JustLuxe
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