For over ten years now, TLC’s Cake Boss has been giving us a closer look at the daily operations of Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. Buddy Valastro is the bakery owner and cake extraordinaire who took over the family business after his father passed away. He works with his mother, four older sisters, a bunch of cousins, second cousins, and brothers-in-law. As some of you may know, working with family is no easy feat. Things are bound to get complicated and create a lot of drama.
Carlo’s Bake Shop has grown immensely, expanding production to a bigger facility and opening up stores in other locations. If you watch the show, it probably took just one incredible cake to hook you and pull you in. However, you may be surprised to find out some of the sketchy things that go on behind the scenes.
Here is the truth about Cake Boss.
It’s a Struggle to Make Lobster Tails
If you are a fan of Cake Boss, you probably already know that one of Carlo’s Bake Shop’s signature pastries are lobster tails. However, that doesn’t mean the bakery employees feel confident about making them flawlessly every time. In fact, they are actually difficult to make and tend to stress out the bakers.
Nicole Vales, who deals with the bakery’s public relations, revealed in an interview that “Buddy himself has said working with it has brought many a man to tears out of frustration.” Yikes! It goes to show that nothing so perfect and delicious comes easily.
Not As It Seems
Although the thriving bake shop seems to get positive attention on the screen, not everything is how it seems. According to Tripadvisor, many of Carlo’s customers admitted that they had had negative experiences there.
One review said, “I wanted to taste the famous cannoli… What a waste of money. Tasteless filling, and the crust was not that good.” Another comment reads, “Ate an éclair and lobster tail. Both did not taste fresh at all – like they had been on the window for a week.” If my opinion matters, I had a chance to go to the bakery around Thanksgiving, and my pumpkin spiced cupcake was delicious.
Carlo’s Bake Shop Is Overrated
Another Tripadvisor review described the famous bakery as “extremely overrated.” I guess it’s tough to differentiate between some people’s personal tastes. Obviously, foods can be very subjective, and not everyone will agree on what tastes good, but good service is a whole other story.
Nevertheless, the review said,: “The cannoli was just totally DISGUSTING! Service-wise, you could not say the staff are pleasant or friendly, but I’m not sure they even get time as they are so busy. Being served definitely felt like being on a conveyor belt, no time to ask a question or anything, you had to have your order on the tip of your tongue.”
The Baked Goods Are Made in a Factory
Contrary to popular belief, the pastries are made in a factory, not on site. Considering the way it’s portrayed on the show, this one really surprised me. It appears as though the staff works together intensely to bake the goods without any outside help.
But Heather, the blogger of Life in Leggings, talked about her experience in 2016. She wrote about how she toured the Carlo’s Bake Shop Lackawanna Cake Factory & Filming Studio in Jersey City: “Everything seen in the bakeries is made in the factory and then shipped to the bakery locations to complete the final touches in-store.”
Some Cakes May Not Be Edible
Apparently, in some cases, the incredible cakes that Buddy and his talented team create are inedible. Given the extravagance of their cakes, it doesn’t come as a big shock that you can’t eat everything that’s on there. One example is the cake that Carlo’s Bake Shop made for Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday.
Apparently, Chicago Cubs spokesperson Julian Green noted that the magnificent cake was “mostly made up of non-edible material,” according to ESPN. Meanwhile, the edible pieces of cake were left on display for quite a while, so the team decided not to serve it.
Closing Bakery Locations
In 2019, Carlo’s Bake Shop announced that it would, unfortunately, be closing two of their locations, in Morristown and Ridgewood. So, what was the reason for the closures? Nicole Valdes, the bakery’s spokesperson, released a statement to NJ Advance Media:
“The leases at the two locations ended, and the company chose not to renew.” Before these two stores closed their doors, the company shut down a few other locations. As disappointing as it was, they closed at the perfect time. Little did they know that 2020 would bring a global pandemic that would severely impact these types of businesses.
Bakery Staff Complain About Management
Reportedly, the staff working at the bakery complain about their management. You would think they have it so well. I mean, who doesn’t want unlimited cupcakes? Well, the company does, in fact, have “poor management,” according to a former customer service associate.
“They do not respect set schedules and keep on changing them as they wish. The managers do not know how to manage hours. Do not care about their staff. There isn’t even a place for the staff to take a break.” A former baker wrote, “Carlo’s bakery is so unorganized, and they tend to put their foot right on the legal line. Such an unethical company and managers are so shady.”
He wasn’t Always the Cake Boss
Several reports and reviews of the bakery claim that it is extremely rare to find Buddy himself in any of the store’s locations. Maybe it’s because he is way too busy taking care of everything behind the scenes. The best way to catch a glimpse of him is when the camera crew is around.
Buddy spoke with Baker’s Journal back in 2015 and admitted that before the show started, he never used the nickname Cake Boss. In fact, the show came up with the name. He also said, “I was skeptical at first. I didn’t want to come off like a jerk – like I was better than everyone else – but it shows who I am in a true light.”
Buddy Was Sued for Using His Famous Name
In 2010, rumors started circulating that Buddy was dealing with some legal issues and was sued for using his famous nickname. NBC New York reported that Valastro and TLC’s parent company Discovery Communications were the subject of a complaint filed by Masters Software, Inc.
The company owners claimed to have been selling a business management program called “CakeBoss” since 2007. Buddy’s show didn’t air until 2009. According to Master Software Inc.’s lawyer, the two companies ultimately entered a “confidential settlement agreement.”
The Duff Goldman Feud
Many viewers thought it was just for the show, but it turned out that Buddy did, in fact, have a feud with Duff Goldman, baker and Food Network star. During an interview with TV Insider, Goldman recalled the first meeting he ever had with Cake Boss:
“I remember I held the door open for him as he was bringing in a sheeter – this massive piece of equipment that rolls fondant for you – and I was making fun of him. Like, “Why are you bringing a sheeter to a cake competition? Just use a rolling pin!”
Claudio’s Italy Wedding Was Fake
During an earlier season, there was an episode where Claudio, Buddy’s second cousin, was getting married. In honor of the special occasion, Buddy, his brother-in-law Mauro, their families, and the late Mary Valastro flew to Altamura, Italy.
According to Fame 10, one visitor to Carlo’s Bake Shop claimed, “I have been to Carlo’s Bakery (the bakery from Cake Boss). While we later learned that the “wedding” they were shooting in Italy was totally faked. They never actually tied the knot. Kind of ruined the experience for me.”
Buddy Fired His Own Twin Sister
As you might assume, working with family tends to be difficult and comes with a lot of drama. However, it usually doesn’t get to the point where someone fires a family member from their job. Well, at one point, that is exactly what Buddy did.
In one Cake Boss episode, Buddy decided that he and the bakery had enough of his sister Mary Sciarrone and her big mouth. That’s when he decided to pull her aside and fire her. Don’t worry, though; Mary was eventually hired back. At the end of the day, you got to stick with family.
Cousin Anthony’s Rude Comments
If you have been following Buddy and the rest of his talented family on TV throughout the ten seasons of the show, you definitely recognize Anthony “Cousin Anthony” Bellifemine. He is the one who played pranks on Buddy and the bakery staff while he worked on the cakes.
In 2013, following the Boston Marathon bombing, he took to Twitter, where he thought it would be acceptable to refer to immigrants as “animals.” As you can imagine, his comments created a lot of backlash. But despite all the criticism, Cousin Anthony stuck to his ignorant rant.
Cousin Anthony Made an Unexpected Exit
But that wasn’t the only time Bellifemine did something shocking. He also stunned Cake Boss fans when he suddenly decided to leave the show at the end of Season Six. According to all accounts, his exit was abrupt, and Buddy even claimed that Cousin Anthony never spoke to him about leaving before making the decision.
After finding out that Bellifemine moved to Florida with his family out of nowhere, Buddy commented, “I put my heart into training this kid. To see him throw it away, after all these years, I don’t know, man. I really want success for him.”
Buddy’s Alleged Mafia Connections
As it turns out, it’s not only celebrities and other VIP circles that Buddy runs with. The Cake Boss also apparently has some Mafia connections. During an interview, Buddy was asked if he knew the Mafiosi and replied, “Absolutely. Everybody does.”
However, these reported remarks are the only evidence pointing to Mafia connections. Other than that, there have been no sightings of Buddy hanging out with known Mafia families. Let’s just hope, for his sake, that Buddy cut all ties he might have had with the Mafia.
Buddy’s DUI Arrest
Buddy was driving in Manhattan, New York, back in 2014, when he was arrested on DUI charges. According to a report from NBC New York, police stopped Buddy near 10th Avenue after following him in his yellow Corvette for a little while.
Reportedly, he seemed “unsteady on his feet” as soon as he stepped out of the vehicle. His eyes were bloodshot, and his face was flushed, so it seemed obvious that he was under the influence. After he failed a Breathalyzer test, the Cake Boss was taken into custody.
Do You Know Who I Am?!
Even after he failed a Breathalyzer test, Buddy seemed confident that nothing was going to happen to him. He thought he would get off with no real consequences for his actions. During his arrest, Buddy reportedly mentioned, “I had a couple drinks. You can’t arrest me! I’m the Cake Boss.”
There is nothing that makes me want a person to get arrested, like when someone pulls the celebrity card. It shouldn’t give him a free pass to endanger someone else’s life. The prosecutor said that Buddy insisted, “I’m a good guy. Can you just put me in a cab? I don’t have to be arrested; I’m not a bad guy.”
Buddy’s Brother-in-Law Is in Jail
If you have been watching the show for a while, you may remember Remigio “Remy” Gonzalez, Buddy’s brother-in-law. As it turns out, Remy was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor. The New Jersey Star-Ledger obtained the arrest affidavit, which said the arrest came after two detectives met with two witnesses.
Both witnesses claimed that Gonzalez confessed multiple times about assaulting the 13-year-old girl. We don’t need to speak much about his despicable crimes. But you may be pleased to know that he has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Accused of Being Transphobic
As it turns out, Buddy’s DUI wasn’t the only time Buddy found himself in hot water. A 2012 episode of Cake Boss also provoked controversy when a beautiful transgender woman named Carmen Carrera was flirting with Cousin Anthony. They two hit it off, and he even asked Carmen for her number.
But during an interview, Buddy couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He said, “That’s a man, baby.” As you can imagine, Carmen was offended. She came on the show under the impression that she “signed on to do this episode of Cake Boss to promote EQUALITY.” Ouch!
He Was an Arsonist
As a child, Buddy was a bit of a bad boy who dropped out of high school due to unfortunate and uncontrollable circumstances. His parents put so much time and effort into the bakery that there was no one to watch over the future Cake Boss. After school, Buddy would just hang out at the bakery so his parents could keep an eye on him.
But when left to his own devices, Buddy would get out of control. When he was 11 years old, he and his friends were always up to something, most notably, starting fires in the woods. To keep Buddy under control, his dad made him work at the bakery on the weekends. He spent his first day cleaning toilets.
12-Hour Thanksgiving Shifts
Thanksgiving is a busy time for Carlo’s Bakery, but customers don’t come in for their famous cakes. Instead, they come for the pies, or should I say the 20,000 pies. A team of 5-10 employees is required to work 12-hour days to bake these sweets for the Thanksgiving rush.
The pies, which include apple, cherry, lemon, peach, or pumpkin flavors, are handmade and follow Buddy’s father’s original recipes. Although the crew takes the time to bake these pies with their bare hands, the customers don’t need to use their hands at all. The holiday treats can be delivered straight to their doors.
Taking the High Road
With so much talent and success, it’s only natural to become a target of industry rivals. In 2012, this happened with Ace of Cakes’ star Duff Goldman who railed against Buddy after his own show’s cancelation. He said he doesn’t like being compared to the Cake Boss and sees it as an insult rather than a compliment.
He went on to say he is not friends with Buddy. According to Buddy, they’ve never even met. But when he was asked to respond to the shade, Buddy maturely insisted that he has nothing negative to say about Duff and wishes him success on all his future projects. Since this feud, the two have reconciled and even have their own show.
Makes Sure His Customers Can Afford His Cakes
Of course, Buddy loves when rich customers spare no expense at his store, but he tries to keep an eye out for his less fortunate clients. He wants to make sure people are only buying cakes they can afford, especially when it comes to soon-to-be-married couples. One bride had her cake vision since she was a child, but it included expensive sugar flowers.
Buddy could tell that the couple was stressed over the cost of the cake, so he made a suggestion: Use real, less expensive flowers. The couple were thrilled by the idea and were able to save a lot of money.
Some Questionable Clients
Buddy tries not to judge anyone who walks through the doors of his bakery, even if they’ve spent time in the slammer. Buddy made a cake for Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano’s inauguration in 2009. Three weeks later, the former mayor was arrested by the FBI on corruption charges and stepped down from his brief position.
When asked about the situation, Buddy had nothing to say and made no comment at all. He did claim that the cake wasn’t an actual endorsement but also wouldn’t say anything negative about Cammarano: “I always stay politically neutral,” he said.
He Endorsed Chris Christie
Buddy endorsed beach-loving, bottle-throwing Trump hostage Chris Christie. Christie is the Governor of his home state, and he is loyal to New Jersey. But you would think Buddy would think twice before supporting the Governor, considering all the headlines that came out about him.
But Buddy has been friends with Christie for years, long before Buddy’s endorsement. He baked an inauguration cake for his good friend and praised him for his efforts cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. But then, during the New Jersey flooding a few years later, the angry Governor yelled at a student to mop up the mess. Maybe Buddy should stick to his “politically neutral” ways.
He Refuses to Make an Ugly Cake
Cake Boss will go the extra mile to make their customer’s dream cake, but even Cake Boss has its limits. Sure, the customer may always be right, but Buddy has no problem telling them if he thinks they are very wrong. If he thinks some flavors won’t taste good together, or if a bride chooses a cake that shouldn’t see the light of day, he tells them.
But when the customers are too stubborn, Buddy tries another tactic. Instead of telling the client that he won’t make their cake, he pretends that he isn’t available to make the cake during the requested time frame. Smooth.
High School Drop Out
Although he dropped out of high school, Buddy turned out quite well. He didn’t leave school by choice, but because his father passed away when he was just 17, leaving him to take over the family business. Once he stepped into the kitchen, Buddy developed his skills to make more elaborate cakes.
He garnered attention from the local press, which eventually led to opening more restaurants and a long-running reality TV show. Buddy attributes all his success to his father’s work ethic and good influence. Buddy believes that by working hard, anyone can achieve the American dream. Whether they have an education or not.
Keeps His Faith Close
After Buddy’s father passed away, the business struggled for a little while. Buddy told his barber that he was worried about losing the bakery, and the barber contacted the Baptist church to help the struggling family get the business back on its feet. The family is actually Catholic, but from that day forward, his family would attend the Baptist Church.
But Buddy is loyal to his Catholic roots. Carlo’s Bakery donates loaves of bread to the St. Anthony’s feast at the Hoboken St. Francis Church every year. He also donates Zeppoles (fried dough) to Saint Joseph’s Church in Jersey City. Buddy’s father started the tradition of donating bread, and Buddy plans to continue it forever.
He Once Got Lost at Sea
One summer night in 2014, thick fog was covering the New York Harbor, and Buddy had to call the Coast Guard. He was sailing with his family, including terrified children under the age of 10, when he got scared as well: “I’m thinking it’s dark… We wind up going into this deep, deep fog where you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you,” he explained.
Everyone calmed down once a fire department vessel met Buddy and his family on a 32-foot Boston Whaler and made sure everyone was safe. Police confirmed that the Cake Boss was completely sober and simply got lost. He also promised to bake a thank-you cake for his saviors.
The Injury That Almost Ended His Career
September 2020 ended up being an eventful month for Buddy and his family. He was spending some quality time with his kids at their in-home bowling alley. “I was trying to fix my bowling alley in my house,” he explained during an interview.
“I have a pinsetter, and it was stuck. I went back there, and I dozed off for a second, and it caught my hand between a fork, and it just went ‘Boom!’ It blew through my hand, and then it rolled it.” Valastro was impaled in his hand three times with a long, inch-thick metal rod. He described it as around eight inches long.
His Children to the Rescue
This accident was definitely terrifying for the entire family. They released the security footage from their front door camera when his wife Lisa made the 911 call. She was so scared to see Buddy in such a bad state that she wasn’t able to go downstairs. Their children ended up cutting him out of the machine using a power saw so they can drive him to the hospital with the spike still in his hand.
Buddy has found a fantastic surgeon since then and is on his way to recovering. While he doesn’t have complete control back, he is slowly regaining movement, and his non-dominant hand has been stepping up to the plate. There is still some work to do on getting full control back, but he was able to thank his surgeon by creating a cake for her.
Road to Recovery
Buddy’s family has been there for him every step of the way. He is now working on a new season of his tv show with his once “rival”, Duff, called “Buddy vs. Duff.” Recently, he launched a new cake-slice vending machine which has been blowing up. His recovery was also documented on TLC’s ‘Road to Recovery.’
There have been a variety of things placed in vending machines lately, but this one is intriguing. The machines are temperature-controlled and are re-stocked every day. They sell many options like rainbow, carrow, red velvet, vanilla confetti, and more, and they cost about $9 each. For the size of the slice and reputation of the the Cake Boss, it’s worth every penny.
He Hates “Naked Cakes”
Buddy refers to undecorated cakes as “naked cakes.” They are just plain cakes with no decorations, and the Cake Boss can’t stand this trend, as you probably know from his extravagant cakes. He believes naked cakes are boring, and they need some sort of decoration in order to stand out.
That being said, he thinks brides should keep it simple. Buddy strongly believes in a classically designed wedding cake. Some brides want crazy elaborate designs, but the Cake Boss recommends they consider something a little classier. However, that doesn’t mean he wants to see a plain, dull bridal cake.
World Record for the Most Expensive Cake
Although the Cake Boss believes wedding cakes should be simple, Buddy goes all out if that’s what the customer wants. Socialite Devorah Rose wanted the most luxurious and expensive cake for her diamond gala, and Buddy promised to make it happen. He certainly didn’t disappoint.
The cake ended up breaking the world record for the most expensive cake baked. Before Buddy’s socialite stole the crown, the most expensive cake on record was baked in China for $315,000. The cake is decorated with jewels and decorations. For that hefty price tag, I hope it’s also made of gold.
The Cakes Are Not as Impressive in Real Life
There is no denying how amazing and impressive the cakes on Cake Boss turn out. All the detail and creativity definitely make for an unbelievable cake, but maybe there is a reason they are so unbelievable. Good lighting, clever camera angles, and decent editing do a lot.
Apparently, these magnificent cakes really aren’t that impressive in real life. In fact, many customers have said that it’s quite disappointing to see the cakes up close. Apparently, a lot of the designs they add are created just to make it look better on camera. Sneaky, sneaky.
Obviously, the reason Cake Boss is so popular is because of Buddy’s ability to create glorious cakes, many being wedding cakes. Usually, each episode is dedicated to documenting the creation of one or two cakes. However, there is much more going on in the bakery. When wedding season rolls around, the bakery makes 40 cakes a week. To keep up, they’ve created a teamwork system.
Five people work on baking the cakes, another team focuses on the fillings, and a different group handles the decorating. The staff said the most difficult cake to make was the one of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The 6-foot-tall cake took 35 people to complete.
Mighty Mike Gator Cake
If you want the coolest cake in town to celebrate any occasion, Cake Boss is the one to call. The New Jersey Aquarium was getting ready to send their star alligator Mighty Mike down south. They wanted a send-off cake as big as he is – 14 feet!
Buddy’s crew designed and created a replica of the gigantic reptile. According to TLC YouTube, it weighed over 1,000 pounds more than the actual alligator. But a 1,000-pound cake isn’t extreme enough for Cake Boss, so the team built a mouth that can be opened and closed! How realistic?!
Happy Birthday U.S. Army
When the 237th U.S. Army rolled around, Buddy and his crew baked a 500-pound treat! They constructed a huge cake shaped like a tank, and it was cut in Times Square during a ceremony in front of a recruiting station that, according to the Army News Service, had been there since 1946.
Eight Cake Boss employees worked on the culinary behemoth for three days and then transported it to Times Square. After the enormous cake was cut, General Odierno, who led the ceremony, swore in 16 new enlistees. The impressive tank cake was certainly an appropriate tribute to the U.S. Army.
Aquarium Fantasy Cake
Buddy didn’t keep it simple when his niece Bartoline’s 16th birthday came with a theme: Under the Sea. He made her a humungous aquarium cake with edible coral reef and hand-painted fish, and a very realistic-looking blue lobster popping out!
The hand-textured, airbrushed coral was amplified by ice-mold sugar corals in this three-dimensional masterpiece. The coral reef cake was made to surround a real fish tank. An aquarium with real fish had another pieced of cake on top that had two hand-painted fish on it. Buddy referred to it as “the best cake ever!” It’s a shame they ate it.
Atlantic City Casino Cake
Every important birthday needs an amazing cake. So, when Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City turned 30, Buddy didn’t mess around. The crew made a cake perfect for any gambler to love. The cake literally looked like it came off the casino craps table. There was a slot machine cake on top and a bunch of hand-painted chips.
Many Cake Boss fans came out to celebrate Bally’s birthday and to see the incredible cake. Two huge dice cakes were the cherry on top of the entire cake, and edible playing cards were painted on all four sides of the slot machine. Like most of Buddy’s cakes, there was plenty to go around.
Sesame Street Perfection
When it was time for Carlo’s Bakery to celebrate Sesame Street, details were definitely something they paid attention to. Of course, Buddy planned a larger-than-life cake featuring the iconic buildings we all recognize from Sesame Street. But the various characters stole the show.
There was so much attention to detail that Cookie Monster’s cookie boxes featured teeny tiny Carlo’s Bakery logos. The Sesame Street signs were replicated perfectly, and it really takes me back to my childhood. Buddy Valastro declared that he was pleased with how the cake turned out.
Cake Is Ice Cream’s Best Friend
If you’re looking for good ice cream, look no further than Häagen Daz. To celebrate the ice cream brand’s 50th anniversary in its first New York Location, Cake Boss was called in. He did a marvelous job decorating a three-flavor-based cake. Then, he kicked it up a notch with three vertically stacked ice cream “pints” made out of pound cake.
Even though it was cake and not ice cream, it looked convincing to me. The cake and icing flavors used matched the flavors of vanilla, coffee, and strawberry ice cream. The top of the cake was decorated with real strawberries, hand-crafted vanilla flowers, and real coffee beans! Yum!