An accomplished, fourth-generation baker, Buddy “The Boss” Valastro has enjoyed much success through his New Jersey bakery, Carlos Bakery, (now with over 150 employees) and his tv show Cake Boss (as well as the spin off Kitchen Boss and The Next Great Baker). Not only does he make unbelievable cakes, but he’s got obvious star quality as well.
So, when it was announced that Buddy was coming to Toronto to be a part of Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show at the International Centre, I know that I’m not the only one who got excited.
Along with other celebrity guests like Canada’s own Cupcake Girls and The Happy Baker (Erin Bolger), Buddy took part in the first ever show of its kind in Canada. With tastey treats at every turn (those you could buy AND free samples), must-haves for the amateur and professional baker alike, demonstrations, competitions and even classes, Canada’s inaugural Baking and Sweets Show was a “sweet success.”
But the highlights of the show were the on-stage appearances of the Cupcake Girls and “Cake Boss” Buddy–fans eagerly crowded around, filling the aisles and nearby areas around the already-full chairs. It was a chance for Canadians to get up close and personal (well, moderately close) to their favourite baking stars, hear their stories first-hand and ask questions directly.
“Any time we come to Canada, the fans are so great,” says Buddy. “They are like the die-hards.”
It’s hard to believe that a baker with such immense talent and success has had little to no formal training. But it’s like the sugar is in his blood. “I started baking when I was about 11,” he says. “By the time I was 16, I knew this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
Things came naturally for Buddy. But still, he wasn’t fully prepared, at 17, to take over the family bakery when his dad passed away in 1994. However, he took charge and taught himself the missing pieces through practise. “Other than a 3-day class, I’ve never really had any formal training,” he says. “I had to do trial and error–make myself into who I am today.”
Anything that he learned how to perfect, he then tackled the process, making it better and faster. After becoming this master baker, he was approached about doing a show. And so, Cake Boss was born and Buddy’s talents were being showcased to millions of viewers.
But for Buddy, it’s all about giving back. He likes the idea that his show can bring families together while they watch him assemble his masterpieces and is proud of the positive attention that’s been given to the industry. Buddy recently went into a bakery just outside of Toronto and was thanked by the baker inside. “You make people respect what I do,” he was told. “It warms my heart,” says Buddy.
So, what’s his expert advice to those considering a job like his for the future? “Go try to work in a bakery. Whether you work in the store front, whether you help in the back–whatever you do at that bakery, the more time you’re there, the more experience you’ll get. You’ll just be able to know what it’s about. Before you invest in schooling…get a taste of what it’s really like, then make your decision.”
It’s amazing what some people can do with icing, isn’t it?