Cake Boss star and master baker Buddy Valastro admires the talent and work ethic of the Filipinos.
In fact, he has many Filipino employees working for Carlo's Bakery, his chain of bake shoppes with 22 branches all over U.S.A.
"The Filipinos are hardworking people. There’s a work ethic, a drive that they have that kinda reminds me of what my parents had," Buddy said.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of the media had a round-table discussion with the famous baker on Saturday, November 4, at High Street Cafe in Shangri-La at the Fort, BGC, Taguig.
Buddy returned to the Philippines for the TLC Festival 2017.
FILIPINO TALENT AND WORK ETHIC. Buddy said Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW's), who leave their country to find better opportunities abroad, remind him of his parents, who were U.S. immigrants from Italy.
"Like a lot of people here in the Philippines, they leave their country to go work somewhere else. Right?
"But they sacrificed. You know, moving to another country, going far away, leaving their families, unsure of what’s gonna happen.
"Why? Because they wanted a better life for their children. They wanted their kids to be able to go to school and not sacrifice the way that they had sacrificed."
Buddy continued, "You see the drive to make a better life for your family, to succeed.
"And I know that, I see that here and I appreciate it.
"I could tell you that I’ve worked hard, and I’ve worked hard my whole life so I could appreciate that. The Filipinos have it, one hundred percent.
"So when I look at the stories of so many Filipinos, it reminds me of my parents."
Buddy said he continues to see the talent of the Filipinos to this day.
"I was actually in Saudi Arabia and I visited a bakery, and they were doing some of the most amazing cakes I ever saw," he revealed.
"And I went to the kitchen, and it was all Filipinos. So it was kind of funny, [they were doing] the most delicate stuff. Listen, the [artisan] is here.
"Where we come from in New Jersey, there’s a huge Filipino community. Actually, my church where we’re parishioners at, is probably, I’d say, 60 percent Filipino.
"So we know the Filipino community very well. The head of my HR department, Rhea, is Filipino. She's been with us maybe seven, eight years.
"So they’re like family. They’re at my parties, I go to their family functions, know their family.
"I have a lot of Filipino people who work at the bakery."
When the subject of having a Cake Boss episode that focuses on Filipinos and our food was brought up, Buddy was receptive.
"Maybe we should do a Filipino episode," the 40-year-old celebrity chef-entrepreneur said.
"We’re very familiar with the people and the culture and all the good stuff. I could definitely [do an episode]. I know the Filipinos in New Jersey.
Cake Boss, which started in 2009, is now on its 9th season, and will premiere on November 15, Wednesday, on TLC Philippines.
It features Buddy and his family, who run the Carlo's Bakery, interact and create edible art cakes of different sizes, proportions, and designs.
EXPERIENCE OVER EDUCATION? Buddy, who at 17 took over running Carlo's Bakery when his father passed away, developed not just his baking skills, but also his business acumen from running their family business at an early age.
PEP.ph asked if he had an advice for Filipino home bakers who want to go to culinary school, tuition fees of which are quite expensive.
Buddy replied, "I got a really good answer to that, so I always tell people, cause they ask me, ‘Buddy I love to bake and everything else, should I go to culinary school?’ and I tell them, and this is important, ‘No. Do not go to culinary school.’
"Why do I tell them that? I’d say ‘Don’t go to culinary school until you’re sure that you want to be a baker. Even if you have to go to a bakery and work for free. Okay?'
"Because baking at home and doing it as a hobby is different than having to wake up every morning at five, six in the morning and working weekends, working holidays, and doing it every day.
The master baker went on, "But once you know that this is what you want to do, and you get that feeling of ‘wow,’ and you know that this is your job, then you go to culinary school.
"Because I don’t want to see people waste money. Because in the U.S., you see so many people who pay, they went to culinary school, and then they don’t use it."
He said that if people would go to culinary school, they should focus on the science and the methods, but still learn the ropes when they are in a real kitchen.
"There’s no training like on-the-job training. What does that mean? Take an apple pie. We’re all culinary students, we’ll make apple pie this week. We’ll make five apple pies for the week.
"Do we really know how to make apple pie? Or do you need to come to a bakery like mine that’s gonna make five thousand for the week of Thanksgiving? And you made five thousand of them where you really know like you know it.
"What should you try to learn, or what’s the most important thing to learn in culinary school that you’re not gonna learn on the job? It’s the science of baking.
"So the baker is not gonna tell you that, ‘Oh well, the leavening agent and the protein content in this flour is gonna react’ and blah blah blah.
"Or ‘My cake is too dense, why?’ Well, maybe you didn’t have enough baking powder or the leavening failed. This or that. ‘My cake is crowning.’ There’s a science of baking that is school-driven and usually important.
"What makes bakers tick and how you can figure out things? That’s what you need to learn in school.
"You have to go there and when you’re hearing the boring lectures of cake leaveners and this and that, that’s the stuff you wanna know.
"You learn things, like mixing habits and what to do in methods, but there’s no way to learn like being on the job.
"So it’s two-fold, school is usually important and I’m a huge advocate for it. But if you’re gonna go to school, make sure you’re going in to learn the science of baking.
"That’s what you wanna extract from school, and make sure that it’s the career you wanna go into."
During his second visit to the Philippines, Buddy also held a baking masterclass where he met young bakers.
In an Instagram post, Buddy said he met a Filipino 12-year-old who uses his skills to help other kids with special needs.
Part of his caption read, "I had the pleasure of meeting the really cool Chef Dea today—a talented 12-year-old bakes who uses his skills to raise awareness and funds for the inclusion of special needs kids.
In our interview, Buddy revealed the fulfillment he gets whenever he learns of the different ways Cake Boss helps and inspires its many viewers.
"Listen, honestly when you see little chefs that have special needs, and they tell you that your show like inspired them or helps them in a therapeutic way [it feels good]," he said.
"I’ve been honored by some Autistic schools in the U.S. because they say that cake-decorating is sensory, and it helps Autistic children cope with things.
"To know that they watch my show and they’re inspired, I mean being a dad of four, it melts your heart."
Buddy said his charity work also benefits him, and not in a "good publicity" way.
"I do a lot with Make-A-Wish Foundation in the U.S., and people always say to me, ‘O Buddy, you’re such a good guy, you do this for these kids.’ And I say, ‘I do it for the kids, but I do it for me too.’
"Because when you go and you’re having a bad day, and you’re busy and you’re scrambling and you’re like, ‘Oh my God I gotta go here, I’m at this,’ and you got a million things and your mind.
"Then you go in and you see a sick kid who is terminally ill and could potentially be dead in two months, and you spend an hour or two hours with that child and their family.
"Then you go home and you tell your wife and kids, ‘we don’t know what problems are,’ and you hug them a little bit tighter and you thank God.
"And you pray for those people, because it could be you."