Cake Boss Buddy Valastro gives Toledo fans a sugar highWritten by Amy Campbell | | email@example.com
It’s safe to say that most people enjoy cake, but can they be entertained by cake? Answers in the “yes” column may have been boosted over the past several years by the increasing number of cake competition shows on TV, but a live cake decorating show? Really?
The crowd at the Stranahan Theater on Nov. 16 left no doubt that cake is cool, especially if it’s being iced, piped and made fondant-fantastic by the Cake Boss, Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro. The star of TLC’s “Cake Boss,” “Cake Boss: Next Great Baker” and most recently, “Bakery Boss,” was greeted like a rock star as he made his entrance down the left aisle of the theater, giving high fives to screaming fans. Even after he’d ascended to the stage and the packed house settled down, occasional shouts of “I love you Buddy!” punctuated the relative quiet, and were usually answered with, “I love you, too.”
Buddy is the boss, and now the TV-star front-man, for Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J., established in 1910 and owned by the Valastro family since 1964. An institution in Hoboken for decades, Carlo’s became nationally known when “Cake Boss” premiered in 2009. The reality show follows Buddy and his crew, made up largely of family members, as they create elaborate cakes for a range of occasions and clients, pull pranks on each other and navigate the occasional infighting.
Buddy is the youngest of five children and the only boy, so one could understand if he’d wanted to pursue other aspirations and leave the family bakery to his sisters. The thought never crossed his mind, he said.
“I started at the bakery at a very young age and grew up learning everything there was to know about the business,” Buddy said. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Buddy told the audience his goal was to help them become the cake boss in their own kitchens. With the help of a cameraman and a big screen above the worktable, Buddy demonstrated first on cupcakes, always telling the audience what tip he had on his piping bag in case they wanted to try it at home. After piping a “puff flower” with thick icing petals that made the audience “ooo” and “ahh,” he said, “Now moms, next time you’re making something for a bake sale, that’s what I want to see.”
He created three different flowers, ending with the 3-D rose. Using a tool called a “rose nail” as his platform, he deftly squeezed and maneuvered the piping bag to the delight of the audience. Then, it was time for a little showmanship.
“Now I’m going to do one for you blindfolded,” he said. The crowd cheered, then hushed as he began. The finished rose, as perfect as the first, prompted another cheer, and some earnest speculation from a little girl in row M.
“I think he practices that,” she said.
All the treats created on-stage were given away to audience members, with winners decided by lighthearted competitions including a hula hoop contest.
While the holistic marketing effort beind the production could not be denied — a grocery chain that carries Cake Boss frozen cakes sponsored the show, Cake Boss baking supplies featured prominently and plugs for the new TV show abounded — Buddy seemed exceedingly genuine and was honest about what you need to decorate cakes, and what you don’t. Demonstrating the proper application of fondant to a cake, he pulled out a fondant smoother and told the crowd it was a necessary tool for the job.
“Now, I see I have an air bubble in my fondant,” he continued. “So I’m going to use this poker,” he said, producing a thin wire with a handle. “This is an unnecessary tool. You can use a toothpick.”
Buddy’s Toledo appearance was one of 16 he’s making in November alone, most on consecutive nights. He does it, he said, because it’s important to him to meet as many of his fans as possible, but there’s another reason, too.
“My father always wanted Carlo’s Bakery to become a household name,” Buddy said. “The best part of all of this is that I’m making my dad’s dream come true.”