We’re used to seeing cake master Buddy Valastro create masterful concoctions and larger-than-life gateaux, but in his latest series he’s trading in his apron for a scoreboard. In each episode of Big Time Bake Buddy hosts and judges as four bakers create cookies, cupcakes and a showpiece cake in just six hours.
So what’s the twist? Unlike other competition series the clock never stops on this showdown. So bakers not only have to plan out their time wisely, but they have to prove they’re as good at multitasking as they are at creating. We sat down with Buddy to get his hot take on what impresses him in the kitchen, what he misses about competing, and how, despite his impressive resume, he’s really “not a cake snob” at all.
After doing Buddy vs. Duff, is it nice to be on the other end of the judging table with Big Time Bake?
I love to compete. For years, I really didn’t compete. I just kind of did my own show. I did Cake Boss. And I wasn’t competing with anyone, but it was a way to push myself to the limits, right? And then when you go into a competition, I think that even upped the ante even more. It pushes you even further. So when I’m judging, I’m also rooting. I’m the kind of guy that’s like, ‘Oh, man, I wish I could help’ or, ‘I wish I could give them a piece of advice.’ Just like a lot of people at home. I’m sure a lot of people watch at home and are kind of like ‘Oh, why did you do that,’ or, ‘Why did you use that colour?’ So it’s nice to judge but if you said to me, like gun to the head, ‘What do you want, to compete or judge?’ I would compete.
What is it that you love about competing?
I love to make, to create and it’s just kind of what I like to do. And it’s less about winning or losing. It’s more about challenging myself. Kind of like breaking a new record or making a another favourite cake or, just sparking the ideas. I have the mind of an eight-year-old-boy when I cake design, because I think the ending is possible. Why can’t this cake move, or why can’t it spin, or why can’t it be, you know, five thousand pounds or whatever. Whatever the obstacles are. And when you’re able to look at things that way, and you become successful at it, you look at life that way. So I look at life, I look at business and I go, ‘Why can’t I open a bakery in Canada?’ Or, ‘Why can’t I have vending machines?’ or whatever it is. You’re not afraid to dream big and make things happen. And I feel like a lot of my successes is because of that. I attribute a lot of that to my whimsical daydreaming and cake design to success in business.
Does watching these competitors spark your creativity at all?
Oh, absolutely. You pick things up from the competitors, too. I’m a student and I’m always learning. I see a good idea or a good technique or a good thing and I’m always putting that in my back pocket and trying to do different things with it. And I don’t want you to take what I said before wrong in the sense where, I do love to judge. I still love to encourage people and I still love to give my critique.
Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro
How would you describe your judging style?
I’m a pretty open book, I call it the way I see it. If I love something I’m going to tell you I love it. If I don’t like something I’m going to tell you I don’t like it. I gotta tell you, watching this show, you’re rooting and trying to coach and it’s amazing. What I love about this show in particular that’s different than a lot of the older formats that we did, was this show is kind of like non-stop action the whole time. Meaning the clock never stops.
Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
It might seem like a disadvantage to the competitors for the audience at home, but it’s quite the contrary, it’s the opposite actually. Because when you work in your bakery or you’re doing your thing, you’re making cookies and cakes and pies and everything is happening at the same time. I actually feel like this is more of a baker’s natural habitat. And because we combine the six hours into one, versus having the two-hour cookie round, the two-hour cupcake round, and the two-hour cake round, we’ve been so successful with the level of difficulty in the beauty of the final products throughout. It’s been amazing. I mean, some of these cakes are the best cakes I’ve seen on these types of competition shows. I was totally blown away.
What does it take to impress you in that kitchen?
The thing is, I am so impressed. Like, I’m not a cake snob by any means, because I’m the Cake Boss or because I can do some crazy things. I never belittle anybody’s work. Everybody works to their own level, or their own creativity. Everybody marches to the beat of their own drum, right? And I see the beauty in everything. It’s why I’m creative when I dream of cakes. Like if I’m driving to work and it’s fall and I start to see the foliage? Cakes and colours and schemes pop into my mind. Or, if I’m in the Middle East and I’m looking at architecture, I’m inspired. Or if I’m in an old Victorian house and I’m looking at moldings and trims, I can apply that to what I do. To me the world is my inspiration. And by seeing other people’s work and other people’s talents, I learn a lot. I’ve seen a couple of things from watching the show and from seeing competitors compete using different techniques. It was really good.
Watch Big Time Bake Mondays at 10ep and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.