You may not immediately know the name Buddy Valastro, but mention the ?Cake Boss? and recognition is almost instantaneous. The star of the hit TLC series that bears his famous moniker, Valastro has written his first book, Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia, ($25.99, Free Press). The book is his official homage to his family, and especially his late father, who crafted the family bakery business in New Jersey decades ago and who instilled a work ethic in his son that Valastro says is something he will pass on to his own children. The book contains 38 recipes, but it?s the stories of Valastro?s immigrant Italian-American family that make the book much more than just another celebrity chef how-to.
Valastro is in town this weekend for a book signing at Borders in Chicago today and an interactive stage show at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan tonight.
Question: You could have written a full-out cookbook, but your family?s story is the crux of this book.
Buddy Valastro: I wanted people to read my family?s story and be inspired by that. It?s dedicated to my dad because I came to realize what a great man he was. I owe everything to him. The seeds of the work ethic that he planted in me make me what I am today. He lived the American dream; I?m extending it. I?m a pretty lucky guy.
Q: Do you think the book paints a whole different portrait of the Cake Boss?
BV: I wanted to put out the right message of who I am. I?m a good family man. I preach that if you want things in life and you work hard, you will get them.
Q: How did you start your love affair with making cakes?
BV: At a very young age. I knew I was gifted with cake decorating. I just started seeing visions of bigger and grander cakes. I would concentrate on making things that weren?t supposed to be cakes.
Q: Is there a cake you can?t make?
BV: There?s no ?can?t.? Determination is the key. Last week, I had to make a cake in the shape of a toilet bowl ? that flushed. I had no idea how to make it, but I knew I wasn?t gonna stop until I did it. And we did it. And it flushed.
Q: What?s your all-time favorite cake?
BV: My father?s cream puff cake.
Q: What?s the most expensive cake you?ve made to date?
BV: The price was $40,000, but I can?t tell you who it was for. But look, you can come in and buy a $3 cupcake or a half-sheet cake and it?s made with the same love and dedication. It?s all about making the customer happy.
Q: What?s your signature recipe?
BV: I took my dad?s recipes and changed a lot of them to make them my own. But if I had to pick one of the many that I created from scratch, I?d have to say I?m proud of my vanilla cake recipe.