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What it takes to be 'The Cake Boss'

Kidsday reporters John O'Brien, Robert Jean-Gilles, Natalie Furman

Kidsday reporters John O'Brien, Robert Jean-Gilles, Natalie Furman and Abigail Semelsberger from the Woodhull School in Huntington. They are with Buddy Valastro who just opened The Cake Boss Caf in Times Square. (May 1, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met "The Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro at his Times Square bakery.

Why did you choose this location?

Well . . . because I always wanted to do something in New York City. And if you're going to do New York City, what's better than Times Square. Do you know [being on] the corner of 42nd and Eighth Avenue to me is like a dream come true for a little boy from Hoboken, N.J.

What's it like to work with family?

Not that question! To tell you the truth, when there's a lot of work, there's nobody better than having your family there -- because nobody's going to work harder or care more than your family. When it's time to go down, they're there, and they're always there to support you. The bad part is sometimes when they're involved in things because it's a family business, they take it personal, and it's hard to separate business from family. So you can never take business personally. You treat it like business.

What's the difference between this bakery and the other bakery?

Well, there are a couple of differences. As far as this bakery goes, it's a lot newer, which I love. We still make the same product we make at Hoboken. The other big difference is the open kitchen. I feel that people are intrigued by watching what we do. Like the show. It shows us baking and people seeing you do it the old-fashioned way. So being able to see what the people are doing in the back, I think, is huge. And being able to bake on the premises here, we got an oven, we're really baking in this bakery.

What famous people have you baked for?

We've made cakes for Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Rhianna, Oprah Winfrey. Let me tell you something about Oprah. Not only is she as nice in person as she is in real life, she's a friend of mine. She's one of my favorites. We love her.

Have you ever eaten your own cakes?

Of course! Look at me. I eat lots of cakes. Too many. Our cake tastes good. . . . I came in this morning, and the Danish was out of the oven, and it was hot, and it smelled good, and I devoured it. And I'm supposed to be on a diet. What am I going to do?

Is it hard to make cakes with a camera crew?

It was a lot harder to make cakes at the bakery because it was very tight quarters, and we were on top of each other. At the factory, we have a huge factory where the film crews don't really get in the way. There're days where they get annoying, but you know what, it's part of my life now, so I don't mind.

How are you going to be at both bakeries?

At the end of the day, some days I'm here, and some days I'm there. And I have family who can be here, so there's always somebody here. In life, I can't split myself in a million pieces; but the same way my father trained me, I train other people to carry on the traditions and uphold the quality of what we do. It's like going to culinary school. People go to culinary school, they learn how to bake. Well, I teach people to do what I do so that people could do it all over the country.

How many eggs do you use in a week?

There's 30 dozen eggs in a case, and I would say we probably go through 100 to 150 cases a week. That's a lot of eggs, 30,000 to 50,000 a week.

Which do you prefer "Cake Boss" or "Next Great Baker"?

That's a trick question. "Cake Boss" is me doing my life. So when I film "Cake Boss," I don't feel like I'm really working. I'm just doing what I have to do. "Next Great Baker," I have a lot more involvement on the planning of how the show is going to be run and the little challenges that we put them through. When I'm doing "Cake Boss," it's kind of like the weather right? So think about it: When it's the winter, what do we say -- oh, I can't wait till it's summer, right? I want the summer; and then when it's summer, you're like I can't wait till fall because the leaves are going to fall. So it's the same thing: When I'm doing "Cake Boss," I'm like, I want to do "Next Great Baker." I love them both.

And I have a new show that's going to be coming out where I go and fix up bakeries that are struggling. So it's my way of giving back all the knowledge I've had for years and try to help other bakeries evolve.

If you weren't a baker what would you do as a profession?

I don't know. I think I'm pretty good on TV. Maybe a lawyer. I'm a good negotiator.

What's the weirdest ingredient you ever used for a cake?

I made cakes for dogs. We did put a little dog chow in the cake mix. That was probably the weirdest ingredient. But the dogs like to eat that stuff.

How many people come to your bakery?

There's sometimes an hour- long wait; sometimes there's no wait at all. So it depends on the day when you get there. What I love most is that people come from all over the country, from all over the world, to visit the bakery as a family. They come with their mom and dad and to spend an afternoon and hang out and really get the full "Cake Boss experience." It touches my heart.

Is there a long waiting list, like if you want a special cake?

There's not. That's a misconception people have. People think because we're the "Cake Boss," you cannot order a cake from me, or I'm too busy to make it or that we're too expensive. Now that's a misconception because at the end of the day, we can totally make a cake for anybody. You just call and order it. And you can get a very simple cake to a very elaborate cake. So when the growth happened with "Cake Boss," I always want to remain a bakery where you can still come in and buy a $2 cupcake or you can buy a big giant cake that costs a lot of money. So we try to be the bakery for everybody. I think it's part of who we are.

Why did you open up a bakery in NYC?

Like I said, it's been a lifelong dream for me to have a bakery in NYC. It's funny because when I started out, I was probably 11 years old. That's when I started baking. And I went to the bakery, and I looked up to my dad, and my dad was my idol. And I wanted to be like my dad, but as I started baking, and I started to do it, I felt like I was good at it. I enjoyed doing it. It kind of like came natural to me. And then my dream with my dad was to make our bakery a household name. And I did that with the TV show and stuff like that. But now my dream is to let everybody from all over the world taste my cake. So how many people come from all over the world to Times Square to visit. I figure this would be a great location. Everybody from all over the world can taste my cake. I bet you guys didn't know this, but my TV show is aired in 187 countries all over the world. Is that cool?

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