Monday, January 3, 2011

TLC serves up more 'Cake Boss' in food drive

Batter up: 'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro is the poster boy of TLC's push to expand its food programming. Batter up: 'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro is the poster boy of TLC's push to expand its food programming.

"Cake Boss," premiere on May 31 at 9 p.m. on TLC

TLC will kick off its summer lineup with the third season launch of "Cake Boss."

The show comes back May 31 at 9 p.m. and is being used to drive more food-related programming on the network; not, however, at the expense of regular shows like "The Little Couple," "LA Ink" and "Toddlers and Tiaras."

"The whole food thing I think people are going to like," said "Cake Boss" star Buddy Valastro. "What goes better with family than food? TLC put a lot of good stuff on the menu this season. I've seen some of the shows, and they look pretty good."

Valastro believes his show's third season is better than the second. "We went back to the roots and we just cranked," he said. "It's so authentic and so right."

Valastro, the network's most visible star after Kate Gosselin (who returns next month), is the main attraction in TLC's food drive.

Food is a hot genre. Besides the Food Network, ION launched a show with Emeril Lagasse, the Fine Living network is being converted to the Cooking Channel and Bravo and Fox have food competition programs.

"I always catch myself wanting to see a cooking channel or show," Valastro said. "You want to see how things are made. It's such a good feeling."

Among TLC's new food offerings is "Inedible to Incredible," airing June 21 at 10 p.m. It follows chef John Besh as he visits the homes of people whose cooking needs help.

Also on the way is "Fabulous Cakes," featuring cake bakeries (June), and "Cupcake Dreams," about the sisters who run Georgetown Cupcake in Washington (July). They join the returning "BBQ Pitmasters."

There's also a handful of specials. "Food Buddha" has chef Rodelio Aglibot going to restaurants and ordering one of everything. He talks to the chef, then creates his own dish. "Mega Bites" features folks who think big, like the Flintridge, Calif., residents who built "the largest Rice Krispies Treat" for a fund-raiser.

"The old-fashioned straight-to-the-camera cooking shows are a little boring, unless you're a die-hard cook," Valastro said. "I want to see something a little more fun, with people who are into it."

For Valastro, being TLC's poster boy is just the latest step in a meteoric rise. Last Friday, he was on "Orpah" for the second time, he's got another show in development and a book on the way, and lines at his Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken can be hours long.

"I keep trying to up the ante and do things I've never done before," he said. "Season three is that. You have the family stuff, but I'm really challenging myself as a cake artist and professional. I really think the cakes are insane."

Valastro said he's not feeling any more pressure. "I'll tell you the truth, I'm the type of person that deals with pressure," he said. "I really believe this is 'Cake Boss' summer."

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