Buddy Valastro

A hit at the weekend’s Good Food & Wine show, the celebrity baker soaked up the compliments from fans. Debashine Thangevelo chatted to him about his latest instalment of TLC Entertainment’s Cake Boss and his upcoming spin-off shows.

LIFE has transformed the success of Buddy Valastro and his family-owned Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, since Cake Boss aired in 2009.

Since then, the fourth-generation baker opened three new bakeries – all in New Jersey – and has plans to open his first restaurant, Buddy V’s, in Las Vegas.

The father of four says, “It’s pretty crazy that the show is going strong. We have so many fans all over the world. It tells me what I’m doing is making a difference. It’s (as in the show) not just about me and the bakery, it’s about bringing families together and inspiring people to bake and get through hard times.”

On the sixth season of Cake Boss, Valastro reveals, “There is a lot of emphasis on Hurricane Sandy this season. We also do a lot of different things like build this replica of a 14-foot (4m) alligator cake.”

Other season highlights include: a ski-slope-designed cake, a special sushi-boat cake, a zombie-themed cake, a Bollywood-inspired cake as well as the opening of his Ridgewood bakery, which is threatened by a blizzard.

Shedding more light on Next Great Baker, with the fourth season airing on September 1, he says, “You know, I wanted to do a competition show. Four seasons in, it is pretty full on and phenomenal that the show has gone on that long. We had thousands that sent in tapes.

“Some people are more talented than others. Some have more drive. It is a combination of different things. You don’t have to be the best baker. It’s great that you do. But you have to be able to want to learn and be humbled about what you do.”

This time, they have divided the contestants into teams of two.

“And, instead of just working for me, the winners will be running my bakery in Las Vegas,” he says.

Aside from Kitchen Boss, his other series, Bakery Boss, using a similar format to Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, has been attracting attention. His will be a more family-friendly version.

Valastro says, “With all the shows I do, I am all about giving back and trying to help. I don’t want to go in and beat up on the bakery. It was really about trying to make a difference with them. A lot had to be vetted. There are certain bakeries, you just can’t help. We looked for ones that we could save. And I want these bakeries to survive and do well. I give them my spin in a very loving and comforting – not derogatory – way.”

He continues, “A lot of times, it varies from getting new equipment and fixing the store to playing Dr Phil, where I felt more like a counsellor. In those cases, it was the emotional problems that kept them from being successful. Every situation is different with the 13 bakeries we do.”

As for how he does it all, especially with his ever-expanding business ventures, he says “I get this question a lot. Whatever I am focusing on, whether it’s my children, wife or TV shows, I give my 100 percent. You just have to make it happen. And that is how I am able to squeeze it all in.”

Cake Boss 6 is on TLC Entertainment (DStv channel 172) on Mondays at 8pm. Season 4 of Next Great Baker airs on September 1 at 8pm.