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West Side Dishes

‘Cake Boss’ encourages baking as memory-maker

11/22/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Buddy Valastro, from TV’s “Cake Boss,” returns to the Akron Civic Theatre for an evening of holiday baking fun Dec. 8.
Photo courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre
DOWNTOWN AKRON — “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro knows that holiday baking and cooking can be stressful.

But that doesn’t mean families should forego the tradition, Valastro said.

“I know it’s a pain in the butt, but it’s one thing they will never forget,” Valastro said in a phone interview. “Those memories and traditions are things your children might pass on to their own children. That’s what the benefit is.”

Valastro will help Akron area families get into the holiday baking spirit with his new live show, part of his Homemade for the Holidays Tour. He’ll return to the Akron Civic Theatre — where he appeared to a sold-out audience in 2011 — Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

“We had a great time in Akron last time,” he said. “The audience made me feel at home.”

This time, his show will incorporate a few aspects of his previous tour and add in some new features, Valastro said. It will include holiday music and an audience question-and-answer segment.

“Then I will make some cakes,” he said. “People always said they want to see me decorate cakes with fondant, but I will do things the at-home baker can do.”

After he puts his touch on some cakes, Valastro said he’ll bring members of the audience up on stage to compete in challenges like a potato sack race to see who gets to take the cake home.

Valastro’s 20-city tour will have him busy from the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 15, so he knows what it’s like to be occupied during the Christmas season.

As a fourth-generation baker, Valastro said his own experience with holiday baking took place at family-owned Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J. His family typically brought home traditional Italian sweets for the holidays from their business, which has been open since 1910.

He recommends that home bakers and cooks use quality equipment to help make food preparation a little easier. 

“Maybe get yourself a Kitchen Aid mixer to mix the dough to make it easier,” he said.

He adds that a little bit of levity in the kitchen doesn’t hurt.

“Have fun with it,” he said.

Valastro said TLC’s “Cake Boss” will return to television Nov. 26. He’s also excited about the new season of “The Next Great Baker,” which also premieres that night, in which one of 13 contestants will earn the chance to work at Carlo’s Bakery.

His tour is also serving as a way for him to talk a little about his new cookbook, “Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss.”

Valastro will appear at Barnes & Noble in Montrose Dec. 8 from noon to 1 p.m. to sign books.

“It’s got everything from my mom’s Sunday gravy to my wife Lisa’s eggplant parmesan,” Valastro said. “It’s got classic things made with simple ingredients that you can get at the supermarket. I wanted to not intimidate people, but help them be inspired. Nothing brings families together like food.”

While touring keeps him busy, Valastro said it’s an experience he enjoys. One of the best parts is getting to sample sweets from bakeries in the cities he visits.

“A lot of times the local bakeries will come to us,” he said. “I’ve tried so many great things from all the other bakeries.”

He admits that the adulation from fans is a little jarring.

“People make me feel like a rock star up there,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m just a baker from New Jersey.”

Tickets for Valastro’s Akron appearance are $35.75 and $45.75 and are available at www.AkronCivic.com, by calling 330-253-2488 or at the Civic Box Office, 182 S. Main St. More details can be found at www.buddyontour.com.

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