Reality concepts have saturated the industry. Fact. And in some cases to ad nauseam levels.
While celebrities have shamelessly agreed to become cash cows for producers, chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal, James Martin and Nigella Lawson have managed to secure their slice of the reality pie.
Buddy Valastro’s Cake Boss show on TLC offers two-pronged benefits with the entertaining drama that unfolds between the vociferous Valastro family and the staff at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey; and the informative aspect – where amateurs glean useful baking tips from Valastro’s awe-inspiring masterpieces.
On the show’s soaring ratings since its debut in April 2009, Valastro says all credit goes to “mia famiglia!”
He adds: “Carlo’s Bakery is a family business and Cake Boss showcases that. Our fans get to see the day-to-day of a family business and that makes us special.”
How has the series grown from the first season?
“You know, as Carlo’s Bakery grows, so too does the show. We have a lot of projects coming up that I am looking forward to showcasing. Our Cake Factory is now open and the decorating and baking classes we have going on now allow the show to share our fans’ personal interaction with us,” he explains.
Offering highlights from the fifth instalment, he says: “Fans will get to see some amazing cakes, new projects we’ve got going on and, of course, a lot of mia famiglia!”
As the title suggests, cakes are the big drawcard and Valastro hasn’t disappointed with his feats.
“My most amazing work would be the Nascar cake and the Transformer cake. And the one that I made for my wife for her 30th birthday was pretty amazing too,” admits the father of four.
While he loves his family, their quarrels certainly boost the audience ratings. Of the scenes he wishes he could do over, Valastro admits: “You know, there were times when I went off a little too much – yelling/screaming – but I always come back and apologise. When you’re working with family, it happens. But it’s your family who will always forgive you.”
Given the increased foot traffic at Carlo’s Bakery, which has now become a tourist hotspot, the talented baker has even more reason to smile.
“Business is going strong and we have plans in the works to open some others – so stay tuned!”
As for the reception to his books: Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia and Baking with the Cake Boss: 100 of Buddy’s Best Recipes and Decorating Secrets, he enthuses, “The response has been incredible. Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia was my opportunity to share the whole story. From my Italian bread-baking roots to my Cake Boss present – with a few recipes to boot. The second book is a more complete mix of my favourite recipes and personal connections to them. One of the coolest parts about them is that they both made the NY Times Best-seller list.”
Moving on to his spin-off shows, Next Great Baker and Kitchen Boss, he reveals: “We’re really excited for the next seasons of the shows. It’s been rewarding to work with young, talented bakers and chefs and really see what they’ve got.”
Excited about his live demonstrations at the Good Food & Wine Show in Cape Town from Thursday, he also admits, “It’s going to be a blast… interacting with the audience and personally sharing my story. Of course, I’m going to try the local flavours and desserts.”
With all the sweet TV deals he is making, not to mention the expansion of his business, Valastro can afford to have his cake and eat it.
* Cake Boss airs on TLC (DStv Channel 186), weekdays at 5.40pm. The Good Food & Wine Show in Cape Town is at the International Convention Centre from May 24 to 26.