‘Cake Boss’ about living the American dream
Buddy Valastro talked about cooking and about his new book "Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss" to a packed house at Sullivan Community Center in Vernon Hills on December 7, 2012. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:58AM
VERNON HILLS — For Trevor Evans, getting out of school early on his birthday was cool.
Getting out of school to see his idol, Buddy Valastro of “Cake Boss” fame, was awesome.
“I like the (‘Cake Boss’) show very much,” Evans, 13, said. “To actually see him in person was great.”
Unlike many of the other youth in the audience Friday at the Vernon Hills Park District’s Sullivan Center, the Libertyville teen said he has no aspirations to be a baker. Evans just finds the show very entertaining and thinks Valastro is a good person.
“He always watches,” Mary Evans said of her son’s fondness for the TLC cable network’s “Cake Boss.” “He never misses … [Trevor] enjoys baking, but I wind up having to clean up after him.”
Valastro was in town last week to pitch his latest book, “Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss.” But Valastro told the primarily female audience that they shouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Chicago area more often.
He said serious consideration is being given to expanding the family business, Carlo’s Bake Shop, beyond Hoboken, N.J.
“And Chicago is on our radar,” Valastro said to a cheering crowd assembled for his talk and book-signing, sponsored by the Cook Library and Lake Forest Book Store.
With a message that goes far beyond cakes and baking, Valastro told the audience that with hard work anyone can achieve his or her goal.
“At the end of the day, I want you to know, especially the kids, that I’m living the American dream,” Valastro said. “Whatever you want to do, you can achieve with hard work and determination. You just have to believe in yourself.
“You could be a rocket scientist, a baseball player or the next great baker. You could be whatever you choose. In this day and age, if you have a job you are going to go to, make it something you want to go to. All these years I have loved to make cakes and I still do. I want to create, and I get to go in a zone and create.”
Valastro said work ethic is more important than the job a teen or young adult may have.
“My dad never said I had to be a baker,” Valastro said. “But he said I had to come to the bakery and learn work ethic.”
When his father passed away, Valastro dropped out of high school at age 17 to run the family business.
“I wasn’t ready to take over a business, but the family was counting on me and I had to step up,” Valastro said.
The noted baker said he gravitated toward wedding-cake creations and put a wedding cake in the bakery window. An editor from Modern Bride magazine was taken aback by the creativity and detail. A story in Modern Bride led to 200 national and local publications featuring the bakery.
TLC contacted Valastro, noting that it was looking for a bakery to feature in a reality show. Valastro invited a crew in for a day. The next day TLC offered Valastro a contract. Now, “Cake Boss” is seen in 187 countries.
He noted having cameras around the bakery has become natural and that he is so used to it that he doesn’t even consider that they are rolling when he is going about his daily tasks.
Valastro said his favorite creation so far has been the 2,000-pound cake of “The Transformers” character Bumblebee.
Other creations Valastro remembered with pride were the Dr. Seuss cake and a Spider-Man cake (airing next season).
“I still believe in the American dream,” Valastro said. “I’m living proof.”
Eileen Rattin of Libertyville brought her 10-year-old daughter, Mave, to the program.
“Mave is a huge fan,” Eileen said.
“I see him on TV,” Mave, an aspiring baker herself, said about the opportunity to see Valastro. “He is famous.”