Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cake Boss shares family recipes, stories, in book and on tour

The Cake Boss is expanding from the bakery to the bookstore: On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Buddy Valastro, star of the TLC reality series "Cake Boss" and proprietor of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, releases his debut book: "Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes From Mia Famiglia."

As its title suggests, the book contains tales from the Valastro family's history as well as some of the author's signature recipes. However, according to Valastro, it doesn't contain as many recipes as he'd originally planned.

"The book was supposed to (contain) a lot more recipes, but Free Press (the publisher) said, "We love the story; do a little less recipes,' " Valastro said. "It's probably, like, three quarters of my story, or maybe even 80 percent my story (and) 20 percent recipes."

Valastro said his story and his recipes are connected.

"It's funny, because the recipes tie into the story," he continued. "When I did a recipe, I remember I learned it from my dad, and some of them I'm so proud of. It's really the American dream. My dad started it ? coming from Italy, working hard ? and I just took it to a whole other level, you know?"

With his recipes for classic dishes such as lobster tails, cannolis and tiramisu on the pages for readers to discover, is Valastro nervous about making his methods public?

"I've always been an old-school baker in the sense (that) I'm about sharing," he said. "(On my) TV show, I show my techniques and different things and a lot of people are superstitious about that, but look: Nine out of 10 people who are going to take that recipe are going to make it at home with their kids. They're not going to put me out of business." Among the stories from Valastro's book are tales of growing up spending summers in Sandy Hook with his family. Valastro, of East Hanover, said he still enjoys spending time down the Shore and is full of Jersey pride.

"I grew up in North Jersey. We always had a condo in the Highlands and now I have one in Long Branch, so I'm very familiar with the whole Shore area," said Valastro, a Hoboken native who grew up in Little Ferry. "Asbury Park reminds me a lot of Hoboken, because Asbury Park had that bad rap for so many years, and now it's beautiful. It just made such a dynamic change and it was the same thing with Hoboken, so I'm real proud of Hoboken and of being from New Jersey."

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Valastro is hitting the road this fall for hise Bakin' with the Boss Tour, which will be wrapping up on Nov. 23 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

"The whole show's set to music; it's a fun, clean, family show," Valastro said. "I interact with the audience where I call people up to help me cake-decorate and they actually complete against each other. I let them make cupcakes and the crowd votes for the winner and the winner gets a prize. I also tell my story and stuff like that."

Valastro said his favorite part of the show comes at the end. "(That's when) I get to meet with all the different fans and hear their stories about how "Cake Boss' has impacted their life," he said. "Like the girl who now wants to be a pastry chef because of 'The Cake Boss,' or the lady who was in a chemo treatment and "Cake Boss' made her laugh, or the sisters who haven't talked for years, but seeing my show sparked a nerve and they said, "You know what? We're family, we've got to move on, we've got to go past this.' So you know, after the show, meeting with the people and hearing those stories is the best part."

Valastro made his live debut in January at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, and his work returned to the historic venue this summer: He crafted a cake in the likeness of Monmouth County filmmaker Kevin Smith for the director's 40th birthday celebration at the theater.

Discussing Smith's cake, Valastro said, "It was really, really important . . . We take pride in all of those cakes that we do, so it was just one of those cakes, you know?"

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