Cake Boss Buddy Valastro returns to Manila for TLC Festival, Nov. 4

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Chef Buddy Valastro is back in Manila for the second time around for the TLC Festival happening at Bonifacio High Street, November 4, 2017. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Filipino fans of Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro of the famed Carlos Bakery are in for a sweet treat this Saturday as he comes back in Manila for the third edition of TLC Festival at Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City.

America’s all-time favorite baker and host of TLC’s TV show, Cake Boss, will make an appearance at the anticipated event, as the ninth season of his show is set to premiere on November 15. It will air every Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on TLC Philippines.

A day before the festival, Valastro graced an interview with a few members of the press at Shangri-La The Fort, and shared his thoughts on how to be a great baker, his dream cake, and what cake would he do for Manila.

In his second time around, he shared that he would want to explore the coutnry more if given the chance.

“I would also like to go to your beaches. I heard that some of your beaches are phenomenal; not that I don’t like Manila but I like to see more of the Philippines,” he said.

In between sips of warm salabat (ginger tea), Valastro gamely answered questions from members of the press in an intimate forum. Here are some of the thoughts he shared at the gathering:

On the Filipino pastries he’s already tried out
Valastro: I definitely would like to try more of it, and see what else I haven’t had but I really enjoyed pan de sal. Ensaymada was my favorite. Typically, it’s not something you get so often in New Jersey so when in the Philippines, that’s what you do—you eat when you can get it.

On style and how he would describe his cakes
Valastro: Kind of fantasy; kind of anything that comes to mind; anything without limits; inspiration from anything you see. My approach and my idea is really listen to what the customer wants, and as they’re talking and saying words, things build on my head and just have a vision of what the cake should be. I like having no limitations. I wouldn’t say I have a style because if I had a style, all my cakes would kind of be the same no matter what, and I don’t think they are.

On the most unique cake he had made
Valastro: There’s been so many. My favorite would probably be the Transformer cake. It’s my screensaver on my phone. It’s pretty wild. Different cakes for different reasons–some of my top ones are the fire breathing dragon, the aquarium cake, Dr. Seuss cake, Spiderman, the life size replica of my wife was fun.

On learning from mistakes and what makes a great baker
Valastro: One thing you could tell me about me and my team, we learn from our mistakes; we adapt. There are cakes now that you want to do over because you’ve seen different techniques, seen different things.

(On being a great baker), I think the first thing is being able to adapt. That’s a huge thing. We learn from our mistakes and our successes.

You got to be open minded. You got to be willing to have that versatility in doing anything the customer wants, and then the most important thing is definitely the drive and the will to never give up. That’s the one thing that I didn’t realize would be such an important part of the show because it’s the way I live; it’s kind of my mantra, and who I am. Nothing is unachievable–it’s about looking at it, dreaming it, and making it happen; and I think that I didn’t realize that would inspire so many people to want to become bakers or following their own dreams in life.

On always practicing and learning new things
Valastro: Practice makes perfect. I think that I’m good at it because I’ve been doing it for a long time…I humbled myself to people who knew more than me, and learn from them. To this day, I still have a learning desire. I never think that I’m a know-it-all, that I can’t learn more. Just have an open mind, and be smart enough to know that you could always learn new tricks.

On being who you really are
Valastro: I just made a vow to myself that I would never change–never forget who you are, where you came from, and stick with the roots and the values that you’ve always had.

The truth of the matter is, you have to be who you are, and for me, I don’t find too much pressure on that. I actually find relief in it because I don’t have to be someone I’m not. The same guy who is sitting here is the same guy on television, and the same guy after this.

On the moment he found his calling
Valastro: It was cake decorating that made me want to be a baker because when I make a cake, I go into what I call the ‘zone,’ and all of a sudden, it’s just me and the cake. Then, the room goes quiet, and I am laser-focused on it, and my problems go away. I’m calm, and you put your heart and soul in that creation, and then you step back, and look at what you created, and you get that feeling of ‘wow,’ you get that feeling of self worth, and I knew from that age that I want this feeling for the rest of my life.

That is why I think I’m a baker. I really enjoyed doing it..It’s funny because I tell a lot of kids that I’m successful because I have my dream job and after all these years and all these cakes, I’m still that person that steps back and looks at that cake, and gets that feeling of ‘wow.’ It’s my art, it’s my passion, and I think if you find that thing that makes you tick the way that cake decorating made me tick, I think you’ll be successful.

On what he does when he is not “in the zone”
Valastro: That never happens come hell or high water. There are times that you feel less enthused or you need someone else to take the lead but thank God that I have a great team around me.

You have to surround yourself with great people who will support things. Even though there are points where it becomes a job because it is still a job, I would say that it’s such a rarity that I’m not in the mood for it.

On the challenges of running a business with a family
Valastro: Running a business with family is always challenging. One day you want to kill your sister but one day, you want to hug her. For us, the hardest part in the family business is when they take it personally. You can’t take business personally but its a family business so automatically you do.

No one’s going to work harder than your family; no one’s going to be there be more; but then you have to be able to disengage you. You have to be able to step back from the business side of it and let it go. I think there’s a lot more good than bad working with family. Now putting it to television adds a layer of (complexity) but we do it; we know it; we’re immune to it more now; we don’t even notice the cameras are there.

On why Filipinos can relate to his show
Valastro: The Filipinos relate to it because of family. I think the world does. I think no matter what race or what religion or what culture you come from, the one thing that the world could agree on is family. Family is the most important thing. And I think there’s something in Cake Boss that brings the family together. I think that has been the common denominator that’s been the engine that drive the show as long as it has, and it touches your heart to know that you’re part of that.

Being able to come here and show the fans how much I love them and what they mean to me, this is an awesome stage for me to be on. I cant wait to hug the fans; I can’t wait to let them know what I feel about them; and let them know the guy they watch on TV this is really who I am.

On his dream project
Valastro: I want to make a cake for the Pope. That would be my dream cake. I want to make him a cake because I think he’s doing a great job, but the problem is what the hell do you make the Pope?

I think what this Pope is trying to do is to preach about the poor, the hungry, the underprivileged, and making the world not forget about them, which is something dear to my heart. Every night everyone in the bakery whatever is left over, we give it to the homeless; that’s something we do. My dad started that tradition, and that’s something we’ve kept up and we continue to do so.

I think he is right on message with that but the other thing that I like is that he’s conscious with the fact that we can’t have the mentality we have 100 years ago, so he is starting to accept everybody for who they are, and trying to bring people together.

I think those are the two biggest things he has been able to do, and he does it well so he is probably the person who I think deserves it the most that i would love to do it for.

On what cake he would create for Manila
Valastro: I would definitely do a beautiful city because I think that’s what it is. I would do a city, and would definitely do the skyscrapers. I would definitely do the skyline but then I would have cars, people, and things on the street. I would do the little–the motorcycle with sidecar–the tricycle. I would have lots of that because I think they’re fun, and it’s something that’s cultural thing that’s cool so I would definitely put that on. I would put buses; I would do some more of the cultural thing; but also have people and all that on the cake because that’s what reminds me of Manila when I see it. For the flavor..maybe like a vanilla cake with French cream, and fresh mango chopped up like a mango shortcake.

On relationships
Valastro: If you want to put relationships to the test, you become famous in it. When my wife married me, I was a baker, then all of a sudden I was in television. You know, it’s a lot on her; it was a lot on me. All of a sudden, you share your husband to the world; you go to a restaurant, and you have to stop to take pictures, and you never have your own time.

In the first couple of years, it was a lot. What it has done for me and her is that it made us actually closer because we were tested, pushed to certain constraints, and then we realized that, hey, this is what it is. We are who we are, and the things that were the hardest were the things that she loved me most about.

On what are the must-try pastries for Filipinos in his bakeshop
Valastro: Cannoli and the lobster tail. I think you would like the lobster tail better because of the texture and the cream. It’s a flaky crusted pastry that is cream filled but it’s not so sweet. Asian desserts are probably the least sweet so I think you guys would love it. Another cake that I think you would love is our strawberry shortcake. It’s just simple; it’s just a vanilla spongecake with pure whipped cream, and fresh strawberries.

On what fans can look forward to in the future
Valastro: Soon, I’m going to launch my own YouTube channel where I’m doing a lot more of “how-to” content. I’m also going to open the door into my life in business because I think that (what) I have used as an entrepreneur can be inspiring and insightful to people.

On Saturday, November 4, from 10 a.m. onwards at BGC High Street, Valastro headlines the TLC festival along with celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. Themed as “Go Lokal,” this year’s TLC Festival aims to celebrate all things Filipino by showcasing the best of what Philippines can offer including music, local and artisanal products, food, and many more.