In the past month, I’ve spent a lot of time attending book signings and workshops to enhance my skills in baking, cooking, blogging, food photography. A highlight of this month-long creative sabbatical was attending a book signing with Buddy Valastro, The Cake Boss.
You know, I didn’t expect to be that wow’d by Buddy Valastro. I watch his show, it’s charming and the cakes not only look attractive, but there also seems to be a focus on how they taste. That’s not true of all of the cake shows on TV and obviously flavor is important to me. But my excitement was muted a bit because a friend had met another famous TV cake sculptor and he was pretty much a jerk in person. A couple years ago I met one of the famed female cake makers who I had seen on many of the Food Network competitions and she was less than personable. I didn’t have any first-hand accounts of good encounters with cake celebs and therefore didn’t allow myself to have high expectations of the book signing with The Cake Boss.
That lack of positive anticipation was worrisome to me because I attended the book signing with my friend Renee and her son E, who is 9, soon to be 10. Remember when I taught E and his little sister A to make pie crust? That kid has more passion for the kitchen than most adults I know. He took his first cake decorating class over the Summer and has a great ability to retain information from food shows. The information he has stored in his noggin’ astounds me. He has taught me more about fondant than I would expect to learn in a formal class. I worried that it wouldn’t be a positive encounter for him, that he would meet his version of a rock star and be disappointed.
And you know what? I was so WRONG.
In my real job, I occasionally meet a celebrity, some very kind A-listers and some very demanding not-even-on-a-listers. I also have met several food celebrities in the past few years. Of all of those, Buddy Valastro was the most warm, sincere, authentic person I’ve met.
We lined up by ticket number to meet Buddy (see, we’re already on a first name basis here…). E got pretty nervous while waiting in line. A camera gal from TLC asked him a couple questions, but he couldn’t find any words. I was interviewed briefly because I had a balloon sculpture of Buddy with me. You know I dig cake sculptures because much like what I do with balloons, cake sculptures are created with a non-traditional medium, yet one folks understand, one they can relate to. I love making sculptures from something folks are familiar with, something they have a tactile experience with. But with cake, it’s so much more and people have a broader multi-sensory experience with cake. Seeing it turned into sculpture further elevates the non-traditional medium experience for me. I tried to explain that in my brief interview, but am really not good at interviews in front of the camera. If it shows up on TLC’s website, I’ll let you know. Maybe…
We didn’t wait long in line, Renee snagged tickets soon after they went on sale. It was quickly our turn. E got his cake pan signed (how cool is that?!?), Renee and I got our books signed and I gave Buddy the balloon sculpture. He hugged me no fewer than three times and extended one of the most sincere thank yous I have ever received, telling me how meaningful it is when someone takes the time to create something for him. I’m guessing he gets that because it is what he does in his bakery, putting part of himself into what he creates.
As with the last few Rainy Day Books events I’ve attended, we got a reusable shopping bag stuffed with coupons from Hen House when we left, a slice of Tippin’s pie and, unique to this event, mini cupcakes from KC’s Babycakes. I’ve really enjoyed the Culinary Journey series they have hosted and am grateful to the sponsors for making it happen. It has been a great place for me to learn. It has also been the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
After the book signing we went to Sur la Table, where E pointed out every cake pan and accessory he would like to have. It’s my favorite place to shop, too. We discussed pastry bags, favorite frosting tips, springform pans. We looked at appliances way beyond our budgets and discussed what we like and don’t like in measuring cups and spoons. Sure, it was a baking nerd conversation. It was also a great way to wrap up my idea of a perfect day.