Sunday, January 31, 2010

Buddy Valastro Cake

Buddy Valastro is an accomplished fourth generation baker born into the business owned and operated by his parents. He was born in Hoboken, NJ and raised in an old fashioned Italian family.

At an early age, Buddy showed that he was a natural by displaying his amazing talent for baking and cake decorating. Aside from that passion, he loved spending quality time with his father as his apprentice. Countless hours were spent in the bakery where Buddy’s father, a master baker, taught him all his old world secrets of baking. They were best friends and dreamed that together that they would make Carlo’s Bakery a household name.

Unfortunately, at the age of 17, Buddy experienced the loss of his father, which led to more responsibilities being placed on Buddy’s shoulders. He showed how well he could shine under pressure by continuing to produce quality work. With the help of his family, Buddy has taken Carlo’s Bakery to new heights. His father’s recipes and Buddy’s innovative decorating and sugar art techniques have taken the business above and beyond his father’s wildest dreams.

Today, Buddy is an accomplished master baker and cake decorator and star of the hit TLC reality show Cake Boss. He's often asked to demonstrate, compete, and teach his craft around the country. In his 10,000 sq foot state of the art facility, Buddy and his staff turn out thousands of wedding cakes, specialty cakes, and pastries weekly. His award winning designs have been featured numerous times in different bridal and baking magazines. Carlo’s Bakery has also been featured in books, newspapers, such as, The New York Times, and television; most namely The Food Network. He and his cakes have also been featured on The Today’s Show, Good Morning America, The View, and HBO’s hit series, The Sopranos.

By uniting time-honored quality with modern innovative techniques, Carlo’s Bakery is rated among the best. Their distinct old world taste is hard to come by. This is what sets Buddy apart from other sugar artists. Buddy hopes to one day pass on his passion and knowledge to fifth generation members of the Valastro family and continue the Carlo’s Bakery legacy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Faces 7.0 Earthquake

A 7.0 magnitude quake – the biggest recorded in this part of the Caribbean and the largest to hit Haiti in more than 200 years – rocked Port-au-Prince last night, destroying a hospital and sending houses tumbling into ravines.

"There must be thousands of people dead," Sara Fajardo, a spokeswoman for Catholic Relief Services, told the Los Angeles Times. International aid groups are planning a major disaster relief effort. The international Red Cross said up to 3 million people could be affected.

The headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti has collapsed and a large number of UN personnel are missing, according to Alain Le Roy, the head of UN peacekeeping. At least 11 peacekeepers were reportedly killed – eight from China and three from Jordan.

Le Roy told reporters that UN troops, mostly from Brazil, were trying to rescue people from the wreckage of the five-storey building but "as we speak no one has been rescued from this main headquarters".

Gareth Owen, emergencies director at Save the Children, which has about 60 staff in Haiti, said: "We are very concerned about the high likelihood of a significant loss of life because Port-au-Prince is a very densely populated city and the earthquake epicentre was very close to it."

No official estimate of the death toll has been possible but it is clear tens of thousands of people have had their homes destroyed in Port-au-Prince, which has a population of about 1 million, and that many people have perished.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said initial reports suggested "a high number of casualties and widespread damage, with an urgent need for search and rescue".

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cake Boss (Buddy Valastro) News

It's been a sweet year for "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro.

In March, the master baker of Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, N.J., was the $10,000 grand-prize winner in the Food Network's "Battle of the Brides" wedding cake challenge. In November, he was asked to create a custom-designed rock star cake for Miley Cyrus' 17th birthday party in New York City and a food-inspired cake to help celebrate TV cooking-show host Rachael Ray's 500th episode.

He also created a cake that he personally presented to R&B star Rhianna at a Nov. 24 launch party for her latest album. The cake was made, at her request, of chocolate batter with chocolate mousse filling.

Valastro's late father would be proud of his accomplishments.

Not only has the fourth-generation baker kept his promise to his dad to make the family business a household name in his hometown, he has brought national attention to his family's bake shop through the hit TLC reality show "Cake Boss," which is in its second season.

Valastro's wedding and specialty cakes feature family recipes in flavors like vanilla cake with lemon French cream and fresh raspberries, red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, black and white cake with hazelnut cream and devil's food cake with chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries.

He plans to share some of his sugar art techniques and "demonstrate some fun desserts" in the Pittsburgh area Saturday at Giant Eagle Market District stores in Bethel Park and Robinson.

For Valastro, a typical week at the bakery includes orders for 20 to 40 wedding cakes and 300 to 600 birthday cakes. He supervises a staff that includes his mother, four older sisters and three brothers-in-law.

The biggest challenge in working so close to his family?

"Sometimes it gets personal, but we do our best to try to keep things separate -- business and personal," he says. "It's family, so you love them and you hate them. Sometimes, things get a little heated, but at the end of the day they are your family."

Valastro prides himself in that all of the shop's cakes, pastries and cookies are made from scratch, with no artificial flavorings or preservatives, and are freshly baked every morning.

Many of his designs are over-the-top elaborate, such as the wedding cake he made for a couple of vanilla sponge batter with chocolate fudge between the layers, sugar flowers and ivy vines and a Plexiglas bird cage with live doves inside.

Another wedding cake depicted a 4-foot-tall Leaning Tower of Pisa in pound cake and buttercream filling that required Valastro to construct an inner support system out of PVC pipe so the cake would lean, but not fall over.

One of the largest cakes he ever made was an entire cityscape of New York City featuring nine 5-foot-tall buildings including the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. It was designed for the Grucci family of New York, a fireworks company, and had to be wired to shoot fireworks when it was delivered.

"The Leaning Tower of Pisa cake was one of the most spectacular ones -- the amount of detail that went in to that cake was awe-inspiring," the baker says.

"We recently did a cake for NASCAR as a life-size race car, which took about four days to make. Without naming which ones they were, we've done some cakes (costing) upwards of $10,000."

Valastro says his imagination sometimes is limited by the consistency of the batter itself.

"A lot of times, the issue becomes what we can and can't do with cake. We had this one Mardi Gras cake that a client wanted and they wanted masks all made out of cake," he says. "Now chocolate we can do -- but cake, that's not possible, so that was a little frustrating."

And, there's always the potential for disaster in the delivery of an elaborate dessert created by Valastro and his staff.

"In terms of transporting, it's always a fun time hoping the cake gets there the same way it left the bakery," he says.

When it comes to creating a "dream cake" for a celebrity or other famous person, Valastro knows who he'd like to have as a client:

"I'd love to do a cake for the president. I don't even care which one. Just to say I did a cake for the president would be an awesome experience."