Chef Chat

The Cake Boss: Buddy Valastro on Experience Over Education and the Importance of Small Businesses in America

Buddy Valastro is better known as The Cake Boss, and his eponymous show on TLC -- Cake Boss -- has become one of the network's biggest hits. The show, which averaged 2.3 million viewers during its first season, follows Valastro and his family as they run Carlo's Bakery, the family business in Hoboken that's been baking cakes for more than 100 years.

The bakery has become as popular as the show itself, prompting the City of Hoboken to rename its intersection at Washington and Newark streets "Carlo's Bakery Way." But that's not all that's resulted from the show: Valastro has written two books -- Baking with the Cake Boss and Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia -- starred in two spin-off series and is now embarking on his second tour, visiting more than 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Valastro is swinging through Houston on November 11, when he'll tell stories from his family's bakery, demonstrate tips and techniques for cake decorating, answer questions from the audience, and even invite guests on stage to see who can frost the best cake in front of a crowd.

In advance of his appearance, the Houston Press interviewed Valastro by phone and was surprised to hear which subjects the New Jersey native is most passionate about.

Valastro had far more to discuss than just fondant and buttercream in our interview. This high school dropout has been managing a business for more than half his life, since his father died when Valastro was 17 and left Carlo's Bakery to his eldest son. And Valastro digs in deep when it comes to the political and economic factors in our country that are affecting small businesses and family businesses like his own.

Eating Our Words: Is this the first big national tour that you've done?

Buddy Valastro: No, this is my second. But this is the Southern loop. We did the Northern loop last time; this is the Southern loop.

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Katharine Shilcutt