Buddy Valastro became a household name in 2009, due to the hit American reality-television series “Cake Boss.” He’s the ultimate authority on baking and decorating various types of cakes, including Italian pastries – his expertise in pastry making had been acknowledged in the industry, as proven by the numerous awards he received, and was the main reason why his show became one of the most-viewed on cable TV. Fans had been curious if they would ever see Buddy again on TLC after the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted. Rumors about the series being canceled began circulating online when the network failed to air new episodes after 2020. Buddy cleared everything up in 2022, revealing a major transition in his life.
- 1 Background on Carlo’s Bakery
- 2 Get to know Buddy Valastro
- 3 All about “Cake Boss,” the show
- 4 Interesting facts and controversies associated with “Cake Boss”
- 5 The rumored cancelation of “Cake Boss”
Background on Carlo’s Bakery
The 112-year-old bake shop was a family-owned business located on Adams Street in Hoboken, New Jersey, founded by Italian pastry chef Carlo Guastaferro, back in 1910. Fifty years later, the bakery was bought by Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro Sr., and in 1989, he moved the shop to Washington St. located across from Hoboken City Hall. Just like most Italian-owned businesses, everyone in the Valastro family helped in running the shop, including his son Buddy Valastro Jr., his four daughters, and their husbands, along with other relatives.
Buddy worked closely with his father, being groomed to replace him upon his retirement. He never thought it would happen quite so soon, but his father died of lung cancer in 1994 at the age of 54. He was loaded with anxiety like any other 17-year-old boy, as he had enormous shoes to fill. However, he found himself making a vow while seated in his car, thinking, ‘Whatever I gotta do, I’m gonna make this place successful.’ He knew that his family, the employees, and everyone connected to the business counted on him to make it work, so he rose to the occasion and made the bake shop massively successful, not only locally but globally as well, and it even became one of the popular tourist spots in New Jersey.
Get to know Buddy Valastro
Buddy is the fourth-generation baker – his parents Buddy Sr. and Mary Valastro were both Italian immigrants. He was partly raised in Little Ferry, which was just a 13-minute drive away from his hometown. His father and his grandfather were both bakers from Sicily, and when his father purchased Carlo’s Bake Shop, everyone in the family was expected to help in the shop.
He was assigned to the bathroom initially
At age 11, during his first job as an apprentice to his father, he was tasked to clean the toilet bowl – it was his father’s idea to ensure that his son didn’t have any illusion about the job, and that he wouldn’t get any special treatment from him. He later became the shop’s dishwasher, but it didn’t take too long before his father welcomed him to the kitchen. He cracked eggs, measured flour, and filled their signature cannolis. After a year in the kitchen, his confidence increased, and he baked a rum cake for his mother’s birthday. He initially messed up some of his early creations, but believed that there was always room for improvement, so he wasn’t discouraged.
Respect was earned not bought
Due to Buddy’s young age, when he took over the shop, he had many fights with his older sisters, and some of the older employees as well. While he grew up assisting his father in rolling the dough and icing the cake, he needed to prove himself that he was worthy of running the business. He worked hard and earned the respect of his family, saying, ‘Respect is something you can’t buy, you have to earn it. That’s a very important, valuable lesson I’ve learned in life.’
Perfecting the lobster tail
To ensure the loyalty of their clients, Buddy had to learn how to replicate the bakery’s signature products, such as the lobster tail. The original owner of the bake shop made an Americanized version of the popular Italian pastry, Sfogliatelle. He had a difficult time making the same dough, and for some time it was a case of trial and error. His problem was solved when he claimed that his father visited him in a dream one night, and told him specifically how to do it. After that experience, Buddy could replicate the lobster tail without any problem.
His mother was his number one fan
When his father died, he saw his mom cry for nine months, and so it was the period when he became closer to her. Buddy shared that while his mother would always remind him that she’s the boss, she was very supportive of him. There wasn’t any topic that was off limits between them, so it was difficult for him to deal with her passing in June 2017. Mary fought Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – for eight years. He said he didn’t know what to feel, because he was relieved that she was no longer suffering, but at the same time, he was grief-stricken that she was no longer around. Aside from his father, his mother also instilled a very strict work ethic in him and his sisters.
Became imaginative to make his cakes extra special
Everyone who knew Buddy growing up was aware that he struggled in his art classes, but he never had any problem being imaginative. He wanted to make their cakes a standout in the industry, and one of his ultimate goals was to come up with amazing designs that tasted heavenly. He believed that if he could combine his design skills with his father’s recipes, their bake shop would be highly competitive in the industry, and so it became.
All about “Cake Boss,” the show
“Cake Boss” chronicled the day-to-day operations of Buddy Valastro’s Carlo’s Bake Shop, more popularly known as Carlo’s Bakery. His mind-boggling and award-winning designs delighted all pastry lovers out there, while the culture of the Italian-American family of doing business fascinated the viewers.
The origins of “Cake Boss”
Buddy and his bake shop flourished over the years, acquiring loyal clients around New Jersey. In 2004, he was asked to participate as a contestant in a competitive cooking series called Food Network Challenge. Reality-TV shows were just getting started, but baking wasn’t yet part of their content at that time. He participated in four cake-making competitions, but only won the last challenge, which earned him around $10,000.
TLC cable network at that time began to change its programming, and focused on airing reality-TV shows. They offered Buddy an opportunity to headline his own show, and “Cake Boss” made its TV premiere on 19 April 2009, produced by High Noon Entertainment. Just for the pilot episode alone, they filmed for five consecutive days, and TV executives were so happy with the result that they immediately ordered 12 episodes to complete one season.
📺Today TV History: #CakeBoss Premiered 2009 @TLC w/@CakeBossBuddy #MaryValastro @lisavalastro4 @CakebossCastano @CakeBossJoe @CakeBossGrace @Dannycakeboss @CarlosBakery About: https://t.co/OIiwkDgu4f pic.twitter.com/DHV6b6fSM7
— TV Tango (@TVTango) May 25, 2020
Meet the “Cake Boss” cast
There were plenty of people who appeared over the years, as Buddy couldn’t have done it alone. His brothers-in-law played a huge role, as they’d also worked at Carlo’s Bakery long before the TV show started airing. They were pastry chef and right-hand man Mauro Castano, head baker Joseph Faugno, and cake decorators Frankie Amato Jr. and Remy Gonzalez.
Buddy was also assisted in running the bakery by his older sisters, Grace Faugno and Maddalena Castano on the front counter, cake consultant Mary Sciarrone, and Lisa Valastro (Store Manager). Sal Picinich was one of those who wasn’t related to Buddy by blood or affinity, but was considered family because he’d been with the shop since 1964. Buddy’s mother was a staple in the early seasons of the TV show, but she was conspicuously absent in the latter seasons although she was frequently mentioned. It was only revealed much later that she had ALS. More people joined the show as it became more popular over the years.
The two-year hiatus of the reality-TV series
“Cake Boss” fans were shocked that the TV series went on a two-year hiatus after the death of Buddy’s mother in June 2017. The popular baker couldn’t function well after what happened, and a month after her death, he confessed that he still couldn’t visit the branch in Hoboken, as that was his mother’s store. He would break down because he easily pictured his mom singing her favorite song, “I Will Survive,” while going around the bake shop. Buddy knew what his mother wanted him to do, and that was to be strong and continue as the patriarch of the family. However, he still had a hard time filming for the show, and opted to take a break from TV.
Back on TV in 2019 with a new network
After Buddy took a break from filming “Cake Boss,” he returned to the small screen, but on a different, smaller TV network, Discovery Family. In 2018, Discovery Communications purchased Scripps Networks Interactive, which had different cable networks as subsidiaries, such as TLC, HGTV, and Food Network. No explanation was given for the move, but the new season was more child-friendly. Viewers were initially confused when the new season was introduced as its ninth, when it should have been the 14th season. Apparently, the new network producers combined all the episodes aired in a year into one season, so the number of seasons changed.
Spinoffs due to “Cake Boss” massive success
TLC network found a goldmine in Buddy Valastro, because after airing “Cake Boss,” several spin-offs were launched, the first one was called “Next Great Baker.” It was also produced by High Noon Productions for TLC, and Buddy hosted the new series, as he searched for a new apprentice for his famous bakery. The prize package for the winners from each season varied, but generally they took home a combination of prize money, and an opportunity to work under Buddy’s mentorship for a year. The series ran from 2010 to 2014 before it was canceled.
Another show called “Kitchen Boss” debuted on 25 January 2011, and unlike the first spin-off series, this time it was a daily show from Mondays to Fridays. It was studio-based, and featured Valastro’s family recipes and other Italian-American dishes specifically chosen by Buddy which could easily be prepared with affordable and accessible ingredients, so that the viewers could easily relate to him. After airing 80 episodes over the course of two seasons, TLC didn’t renew the show.
There were two more spin-offs, “Bakery Boss” in 2013 and “Bake You Rich” in 2019. Neither attracted much attention from the viewers, and so both were axed after a season.
Interesting facts and controversies associated with “Cake Boss”
Buddy was arrested for DWI
In November 2014, “Cake Boss” fans were shocked by the Breaking News that was reported on TV – the famous baker was arrested by police officers for driving a vehicle while intoxicated. Buddy was seen driving his yellow 2014 Corvette erratically at about one in the morning, on 10th Avenue and 32nd Street. His lawyer said that his client was going back to his New Jersey home after a business dinner, when he was pulled over by police officers. His blood-alcohol level at that time was 0.09% which was over the legal limit.
He stayed for a day in jail, and made a plea deal in the court hearing. The judge ordered him to pay a fine of $300, and he had his license suspended for three months. The reality-TV star was apologetic, saying that he thought he could handle it when he drove the car. He promised that he wouldn’t do it again, saying, ‘One is too many and I will never get behind the wheel of a car again if I have a drink, even if I have a sip.’ His lawyer said that his client could have fought the charges against him, and get a possible acquittal, but Buddy told them that he didn’t want to send the wrong message to the public, especially to his kids.
Remy Gonzalez was arrested for sex assault charges
Buddy’s former brother-in-law Remy, who worked in their bake shop and was one of the supporting cast members in “Cake Boss,” was arrested in 2010, after complaints of sexual assault on a minor were received by the police. He couldn’t post bail amounting to $300,000 and stayed in jail up to the time he was sentenced. Based on the arrest affidavit, two witnesses claimed that Remy confessed that he committed multiple sexual assaults on a 14-year-old between September 2009 and March 2010, in two locations. In 2012, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for three counts of aggravated sexual assault and 12 counts of aggravated criminal sexual contact, along with child endangerment.
Buddy fired his sister
In one of the episodes in the seventh season of “Cake Boss,” Buddy fired his sister, Mary, for bad behavior at work. She made inappropriate comments to many people, not only to her co-workers but also to some of the clients in the shop. If it was only one time that it happened, Buddy would have let it pass, but multiple incidents were reported to him. The fans supported the baker with his decision, and the rest of his family agreed that it could negatively affect the good reputation that they built over the years. While she no longer worked at the bake shop, the siblings managed to continue to have a great relationship.
The rumored cancelation of “Cake Boss”
Initially, everyone understood that the Covid-19 pandemic prevented network from producing new episodes, and didn’t expect new ones of their favorite TV shows. There were regulations to be followed, such as social distancing, testing, and getting vaccinated. However, after the strict rules were eased by the government, many viewers still wondered what happened to Buddy Valastro’s show. The last time the fans watched an episode of “Cake Boss” was on 11 April 2020, and since then, there’d been no official announcements about the cancelation of the reality-TV series until Buddy revealed that he’d found a new home for his show.
On 30 June 2022, he signed a contract with A+E Networks to air future episodes of the show. Along with “Cake Boss,” they agreed to co-produce a Lifetime holiday movie that would feature the Valastro family. Basically, his show wasn’t canceled, but transferred to another cable network. He said A+E Networks was the most suitable for what his family was planning for the show and the bake shop.
There was a time when fans feared that Buddy wouldn’t be able to bake again because of the horrific accident he had with an automatic pinsetter, when he and his friends were bowling at his New Jersey home. His hand was impaled multiple times by a metal rod, as he tried to fix the malfunctioning pinsetter. He had a series of surgical procedures to fix his hand, as there was severe nerve damage. It shook him, because even the doctors were initially unsure if his hand would be back to normal. In July 2022, after many hours of physical therapy and five operations, Buddy proudly announced that his hand was about 95% of what it was. Fans expected to see him creating new designs and recipes for his bake shop. Let us hope so!