I just finished reading “Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes From Mia Famiglia” (Free Press, 2010), as in cover-to-cover (minus the recipes) in one sitting. From Day 1, I’ve been a fan of “Cake Boss,” the popular TLC show featuring Buddy Valastro, the aforementioned boss, who also authored the book.
Lured into the show for decorating and baking inspiration, I became a fan of the cast of characters too and more than once wondered how the close-knit family ended up with a television series.
It’s a question that isn’t fully answered in the show, at least not to the level the book devotes to explaining it. Admittedly, I was skeptical about the story part of it, prematurely dismissing it as just another feel-good book to market another successful TV show.
Honestly, I bought “Cake Boss” for the recipes it promised inside, and there are plenty. Almost 70 pages worth! And they cover everything from cakes and pies to Italian pastry favorites like lobster tails, cannoli, cream puffs and tiramisu.
While I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of recipes, I was just as–or maybe more–surprised by the heartfelt story and the hard work (and a little luck) behind the “Cake Boss” phenomenon.
I wouldn’t want to give away all the goods and ruin the story for anyone, but one of the surprises–at least for me–was putting it all together that Buddy’s father’s name wasn’t Carlo, as in Carlo’s Bakery.
His name, or nickname rather, was Buddy too, and he is described as having had the gregarious, larger-than-life personality that his son and namesake observed and picked up from him. That, along with his baking prowess, helped catapult him into the Cake Boss role.
Sure, there is a feel-good element to the story, but it is paved with plenty of heartbreak and challenges to overcome too. Overall, it’s a fun, inspirational and easy read, but also one that will make you appreciate everything the Cake Boss has been able to accomplish.