The Cake Boss Takes the Cake – “At the end of the day, I’m just a baker from New Jersey.”
With that endearing statement, Buddy “the Cake Boss” Valastro gave perspective to all the baking fans gathered to hear him at the National Restaurant Show. In other words, stardom may be fleeting, and you need to remember your roots.
“I’m a dinosaur,” he told the crowd. “There aren’t many of us left who bake from scratch. Who’s going to be the next generation, and are they going to know how to fold pastry?”
That’s why Valastro is participating in the getbacktoscratch.com challenge, in which hundreds of bakers, schools and institutional bakers have signed up to share their signature recipes—with the added hope of winning a Hobart professional mixer. Consumers can vote on their favorites through August 21, 2011.
But the part of the story I liked was the humility of Valastro. He talked about how his father, a baker before him, used to say, “’Son, watch how my hands move.’ Those lessons instilled the value for me. There’s a lot of easier ways to do it.” He added, “I have endless opportunities to slap my name on things, but I don’t. I want people to come to my bakery and get an experience they can’t get anywhere else. Not something cookie cutter.”
For a baker, it’s a strong statement—and he got stronger. “The art of baking is being lost. When you read the list on the box, do you want to see 20 things that you can’t pronounce? When was it manufactured, and what’s in it? Is that what you want to put in your body?”
Valastro said, “I have recipes that are 100 years old, and I’m proud of that. Everyone can remember a moment in time in the kitchen. For me, it was rolling meatballs with my Nonna. I believe people know the difference in quality.
“There was a disconnect in the 80s and 90s that America doesn’t know the difference. We do.”
He ended his passionate defense of scratch baking with another story: “A woman thanked me for the birthday request she got from her daughter. She wanted a cake decorating set. She told me, ‘At 14-years-old, there’s a lot worse things she could be into than cake decorating.’”