Who’s the (cake) boss?
Calendar talks to Buddy Valastro, host of TLC’s “Cake Boss,” about the Americas Cake Fair, happening this weekend at the Orange County Convention Center. Also, check out roundups of Halloweenthemed arts projects and theme-park curses. Plus a commentary on “The Florida Project,” reviews for “Marshall” and more.
Creating beautiful cakes is second-nature to Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro.
As a child he helped out at Carlo’s, his family’s bakeshop in Hoboken, N.J., taking pride in cutting out cookie dough and eventually decorating cakes. At 14, he knew he wanted to be a baker.
“You make a cake, you put your heart and soul into it,” Valastro said in a recent phone interview.
After all these years, the now 40-year-old baker known for TLC’s “Cake Boss” still gets that feeling. Valastro, who has opened a Carlo’s Bakery in a number of locations including the Florida Mall, is hoping to inspire others at this weekend’s The Americas Cake Fair.
The three-day show will host baking-themed classes, demonstrations, vendors and more through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center. Valastro will take the main stage at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“I was one of those people going to conventions looking for new tools and technology, looking to trade ideas and swap recipes,” he recalled.
His foray into baking conferences came after Valastro took the reins at Carlo’s following his father’s death from lung cancer. The then 17-year-old lost his best friend and inspiration — and gained 30 employees to manage.
He worked to ensure his employees that he deserved the new role.
“My father used to tell me things like, ‘You don't have to say you’re the boss, they’ll know,’” Valastro said.
Still, people are given certain gifts, Valastro said, adding that his was to be the “problem solver.” At the time, the industry was changing as supermarkets began competing with smaller bakeries.
Valastro knew he had to make cakes that grocery stores wouldn’t dare such as a race car, a full-size confection modeled after his wife, and a rocket cake for NASA.
“I wanted to make a niche market — get the cakes to taste like [they were from] the old
bakeries but look like modern cakes.
“It was a recipe for success.”
Determined to up his game, Valastro brought fondant, an edible sculptable icing, to the bakery. He took a class by awardwinning cake decorator Betty Van Norstrand on sugar flowers.
Carlo’s creations started to appear in magazines — 200 publications during 10 years. Through that publicity, Valastro was invited onto several televised cooking competitions.
A cameraman, impressed with the baker’s personality, put the idea of “Cake Boss” in Valastro’s head.
“I started thinking about it: maybe I do need a TV show,” Valastro said. “It’s kind of like a comedy. Me, my crazy family, the bakery.”
“Cake Boss” premiered in 2009. Eight years later, 350 episodes have aired in 220 countries and territories in 45 languages.
Valastro never expected the show to gain that much popularity. Ever the entrepreneur, he created his own production company, Cakehouse Media, and produced several Food Network shows including “Cooks vs. Cons.”
“It’s been a whirlwind of amazing things,” Valastro said.
Carlo’s has added more than 20 locations across the eastern U.S. and an international spot in Brazil. Valastro hopes to open a bakery on every continent in the next 5 years.
“Maybe not Antarctica,” he joked.
Buddy Valastro, above, has expanded the family’s original Carlo’s in Hoboken, N.J., to more than 20 locations including Orlando.
The Americas Cake Fair brings celebrities, baking classes, demonstrations, competitions, vendors and more together.
You can feast your eyes on a huge variety of cake creations at this weekend’s Americas Cake Fair.
In its third year, the cake fair includes classes and presentations for aspiring cake decorators.