HOBOKEN, N.J. — His high-drama reality baking show keeps you guessing until the very end. Chef Buddy Valastro is the star of TLC's "Cake Boss," and there is no doubt he pulls off a miracle each episode.
His team is constantly challenged by customers to make the biggest, best and most delicious cakes. But there is one thing this fondant fanatic prides himself on even more than his creations, that's his family.
"My great-grandfather was a bread baker, my grandfather was, my father was and I am and hopefully my son will be, you know," Valastro said.
The traditions at his family's bakery in Hoboken are deep rooted. His father, Bartolo Valastro Sr., acquired Carol's Bakery in 1964, but the recipes for their creations started two generations before in Italy.
"My great-grandfathers came to America. They made a little bit of money and then they went back to Italy to start their own lives," Valastro said.
While they were in New York City, they had Valastro's grandfathers before returning with their families to Italy.
"Both my parents were born in Italy but because their fathers were American, it was very easy for their fathers to come over," he said.
His mother's father, Nicola, made his way back to New York in the early 1900s and reunited with a long-lost cousin by going off of a street address.
"He rang the bell and had a picture of his parents and said, 'I am your cousin from Italy. Can I stay here?' And they basically took him in and they got him a job in Hoboken," he said.
It was his grandfather's commute to work in New Jersey that still inspires Valastro today.
"He would walk instead of take the bus and it was crazy because he couldn't read or write, so he would actually mark the telephone poles so that he could find his way home," he said.
That work ethic is something Valastro still draws from today. He says the way his team works in his bakery helps keep his family history alive.
"It's really important to carry the legacy of the brand and what my father left me and my family," Valastro said. "To bring it to the generations of my kids, my nieces and nephews. To keep it in the family is an amazing thing."
The bakery, more than 100 years old, is now more successful than ever, showing just how important the decisions his ancestors made really were.
"I think it's important to show where we came from and never forgetting it and never forgetting who helped us along the way," Valastro said.