Celebrity pastry chef Buddy Valastro's new show will help find him a business partner: 'Their prize is in perpetuity'
The star of reality TV series 'Cake Boss' speaks to us about his new show, fame, and offers up two exclusive recipes for readers
The last time The National spoke to celebrity confectioner Buddy Valastro, star of reality TV series Cake Boss, in 2014, he was scouting the region for possible locations for the first Mena outpost of his New Jersey bakery, Carlo’s. Valastro says that plan has been shelved for the time being, though he still hopes to expand his business globally, including to the Gulf. His TV career definitely hasn’t stalled, however, and the popular patissier returns to the Food Network this weekend with new show, Bake You Rich.
While Cake Boss followed Valastro and his family as they worked in Carlo’s, Bake You Rich will bring new faces into the (pastry) fold, as contestants compete to win the chance to sell their favourite culinary creations as part of Valastro’s range.
'The prize for this show is actually being my partner in selling your product'
Although long-term Cake Boss fans will have to get used to some new faces holding the rolling pin, Valastro insists the new format is simply an extension of the old one.
“This is definitely trying to bring new people in because I always like doing different things, but I feel like I live the American dream,” he says. “I feel like I’ve started with one little bakery. I had a vision, I had a dream. I wanted to make my dad’s bakery a household name. I feel like I did that. How do I help these people achieve that? How do I give them that opportunity? Because some people just need a little bit of help.”
Valastro seems convinced that the contestants on his latest show really will have the chance to bake it rich. “The prize for this show is actually being my partner in selling your product, using my distribution arm and my website to do it,” he explains. “It’s not like when you go on some shows and you get a $5,000 (Dh18,362) or $10,000 prize. Their prize is in perpetuity. If people like the product and they keep buying it, then they’ll continue to get royalties from it.”
For Valastro, the key to the show’s success isn’t baking, but family
Valastro is something of an old hand at the reality TV/cooking show crossover game. Cake Boss had its premiere in 2009 and has since run for 10 seasons on TLC. Spin-offs in that decade have included Kitchen Boss and Buddy’s Bakery Rescue. I ask Valastro if he had any idea all those years ago that his family bakery would become such a global TV phenomenon. “I really didn’t, especially on an international level,” he admits.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know that Discovery was all over the world the way it was. Doing my show, I always thought that it would be good for my business. I thought that any type of show couldn’t hurt. But once I started to travel and I started to see people from all different parts of the world, all different cultures, all different religions, all different situations, all enjoy the show, it made me start to think about what the show is.”
Cake Boss has certainly become an unexpected global unifier – it screens in 190 countries, and the large crowd that turned up to see Valastro judge a cake competition at Emirates Palace in 2014 is testament to his popularity in the UAE. For Valastro, however, the key to the show’s success isn’t baking, but family. “The essence of the show is family. It’s me and my family running a business,” he says. “I think that no matter where you come from, family has got that dynamic that’s the same all over the world. And I think that that’s what really resonates, and I think that’s inspiring people. I honestly, genuinely, inspire people without doing it intentionally.”
With so many reality/talent TV crossovers on the market, there’s constant competition to stand out from the crowd. British chef Gordon Ramsay has enjoyed particular success in the food field with shows such as Kitchen Nightmares, which focus on some of the least talented restaurateurs out there, rather than undiscovered gems. Valastro has even embarked on a similar theme in Buddy’s Bakery Rescue, in which he travelled across the US in search of struggling bakeries he could help. Can we expect any disasters in his new show? Or will he be selecting only the creme de la creme as his potential future partner?
“Honestly, we vet the people pretty well in the casting process,” he says. “It’s produced by my production company. So we’re looking to protect me, protect the contestants and protect the show. Realistically, what I’m looking for is the next big idea. Everybody has got a recipe that they say, ‘my grandmother’s cookie, or my aunt’s pie, or my mum’s this, is the best in the world. And if I could just get noticed, I could become the next Oreo cookie’. Right? I want to be that conduit that helps them get there.”
Bake You Rich begins on the Food Network tomorrow at 10.50pm
Buddy's favourite recipes:
You might not bake yourself rich this weekend, but you can at least bake yourself full with these exclusive recipes from the Cake Boss himself.
Buddy’s Linguini with White Clam Sauce
On Christmas Eve, my family sometimes serves a traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, made up of (at least) seven fish and shellfish dishes. The classic linguini with clam sauce was often part of the menu, an especially Hoboken-appropriate touch since clam dishes have a rich history in my hometown. (Frank Sinatra, a Hokboken native loved clams Posillipo.)
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Three 8-ounce bottle clam juice
3 dozen fresh littleneck clams, cleaned
1 ½ pounds linguini
½ cip chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
- Meanwhile, sauté the garlic in the olive oil over a medium-low heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bottled clam juice and season lightly with salt.
- When the pasta water is boiling, salt it and add the linguini. Cook until al dente.
- Meanwhile, bring the clam sauce to a boil and add the rinsed clams. Cover the pot and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are thoroughly opened, about 10 minutes. (Discard any clams that have not opened.)
- Drain the pasta and return to the empty pot. Add the clam sauce, lemon, and half the parsley to the pot (reserve the clams); toss with tongs to coat and moisten.
- Transfer the pasta and juices to a large serving bowl or 6 wide, shallow bowls. (The pasta dish should be brothy, with lots of sauce.)
- Place the opened clams atop the pasta, and sprinkle the dish with the remaining parsley.
Buddy’s Strawberry Shortcake recipe
For the Vanilla Cake:
- 2½ cups cake flour, plus more for flouring the cake pans
- 2 cups sugar, plus more for unmolding the cakes
- 2 cups Italian Custard Cream, optional
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- Unsalted butter (about 2 tablespoons), nonstick spray, or vegetable oil
- 3 pints strawberries
- 2 quarts Heavy whipping cream; chilled
- 2 cups sugar
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350°F
- Put the flour, sugar, custard cream (if using), vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. (If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, but take extra care no to overmix.) Mix on low speed just until the ingredients are blended together, a few seconds, then raise the speed to low-medium and continue to mix until smooth, approximately 1 additional minute.
- With the motor running, add one egg at a time, adding the next one after the previous one has been absorbed into the mixture. Stop the motor periodically and scrape the bowl from the bottom with a rubber spatula to integrate the ingredients, and return the mixer to low-medium speed.
- After all the eggs are added, continue to mix for 1 additional minute to ensure the eggs have been thoroughly mixed in. This will help guarantee that the sugar is dissolved and that the flour has been thoroughly mixed in, which will help produce a luxurious mouthfeel in the final cake.
- With the motor running on low speed, add the milk, ½ cup at a time, stopping the motor to scrape the sides and bottom between the two additions. Continue to mix for another 1 minute or until the mixture appears smooth. Before baking, be sure the batter is between 70° and 73°F, or the cake will crown. (Test by plunging a kitchen thermometer into the center of the batter; if it is too warm, put the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes; if too cool, let it rest at room temperature.)
- Grease two 9-inch cake pans (2 inches deep) and flour them.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and get as much batter as possible out.
- Bake until the cake begins to pull from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour. The cakes should be at room temperature before you remove them from the pan.
- Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sugar, and one at a time, turn the pans over and turn the cakes out onto parchment; the sugar will keep them from sticking.
Refrigerate or freeze until ready to decorate.
- Reserve 8 of the nicest berries to decorate top of the cake, then hull and halve the remaining berries.
- Cut the tops off of each cake so t hey are smooth and even.
- Whip the cream with the sugar to soft peaks. Place one cake layer on serving platter, leveled/cut side up. Spread or pipe whipped cream on the cake. Add strawberries and another thin layer of whipped cream. Stack the next cake on top with cut side facing up. Spread or pipe more whipped cream on top and decorate the top of the cake with the strawberries.
Updated: August 7, 2019 06:26 PM