New Haven was a little sweeter than usual this weekend.
Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro — owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J. and star of one of TLC’s highly rated reality show, “Cake Boss” — took the stage Sunday at the Shubert Theater on College Street in New Haven as a sold-out stop on his “Bakin’ with the Boss” tour. The tour will take Valastro to 17 cities throughout North America, from Toronto to Los Angeles. Adam Bourcier, Valastro’s manager, explained that the tour, which has been in the works since February, presented an opportunity for the Cake Boss to promote his book “Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia,” while simultaneously giving cake decorating demonstrations and interacting with his fans.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Bourcier said.
Valastro’s two-hour interactive show provided about 1,600 fans with an opportunity to engage with the Cake Boss. Valastro told stories about his life and his family, in addition to bringing fans on stage to participate in cupcake-decorating competitions judged by the audience.
For example, Valastro asked volunteers to join him on the stage to recreate a cupcake icing design that he made in less than 30 seconds and whomever the audience deemed the most accurate copier was declared the winner.
While the audience members attempted to recreate the cupcake art, Valastro interjected with some lighthearted one-line criticisms of their creations.
“It looks like my son Marco made it — and he’s three,” Valastro joked with one man. “You’re, like, cake-decorating challenged.”
After all the fun and games, Valastro paused to tell his life story to the crowd and explain how he became the “Cake Boss.”
He began by telling the story of his childhood and his relationship with his father, who was an immigrant from Sicily and who started the family baking dynasty. Valastro explained how his baking career started when he was 11 as a form of punishment. His father took him to the bakery and made him scrub the toilet bowl, and Valastro was gradually made to do every job in the bakery.
“He wanted me to understand everybody’s job,” Valastro said. “Now, when there’s a problem with the pot washer or the toilet bowl guy, I can sympathize because I know what it’s like.”
Valastro also talked about some of his most outlandish cake designs — for example, a toilet bowl that actually flushed and a life-sized Nascar racer replica.
“I wanted to make cakes that don’t look like cakes,” Valastro said. “So I started working with fondant and modeling chocolate.”
Valerie Ortiz and her 9-year-old daughter Corinne from Wallingford, Conn., self-proclaimed avid fans of the show on TLC, said they enjoyed the family-oriented nature of the live show.
“I really enjoy the way the family interacts with each other, and I love watching him come up with his fabulous ideas for his cakes,” said Ortiz, who added that she has watched every season of “Cake Boss.”
After the show ended, Valastro took photographs with and greeted audience members, many of whom waited in line for well over an hour to meet him. Earlier, on stage, he said he would sign books and take pictures with anyone in the audience who wanted one.
“You can’t just preach it,” Valastro said in an interview. “That’s not who I am.”
Valastro’s bakery employs about 100 people, working in shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Valastro’s publicist Erika Martineau said. She added that the bakery uses about 800 pounds of cream cheese, 1,000 pounds of sugar, 1 ton of shortening, and 4 tons of flour each week.