Speaking to realscreen in advance of the August 23rd premiere of the series’ eighth season on the Discovery-owned cable net, the affable Valastro offers his take on why the show has lasted close to 10 years, and why it’s still resonating with audiences internationally as well as domestically.
“It’s feel-good TV,” he says over bites of lunch from Carlos’ Bakery, the Hoboken, New Jersey shop that has been the birthplace of the Cake Boss phenomenon. “There’s a good family dynamic that people can relate to – no matter where you come from or what culture, family is the most important thing. How many shows can you really sit down with the whole family and watch?”
Jim Berger, CEO of Cake Boss prodco High Noon Entertainment, agrees with that assessment, but thinks that in addition to the family, audiences are riveted by the family’s work, creating tasty yet terrifically over-the-top cakes for a variety of clients. For example, Buddy has made NASCAR car replica cakes, Transformer and Dr. Seuss cakes.
“It’s so methodical, so fascinating to watch it go from a design on white piece of paper to the reveal at the end,” says Berger. “We’ve pitched and tried to do a lot of build and process shows – from cars to restaurants to other family businesses – but I haven’t seen anything in my career that comes remotely close to cake-making.”
The combination of a relatable family dynamic and pastry prowess has resulted in eight seasons and increasing popularity for both the program and Valastro’s bakery business around the globe. This season will not only feature cake replicas of the Taj Mahal and a giant hot dog, but it will mark a milestone for the series – its 200th episode – with season nine already ordered. Meanwhile, Valastro is expanding his bakery empire beyond the U.S. with plans to open franchises in Brazil and Bahrain before the end of the year, and evolving plans with his production company, Cakehouse Media, formed with partner Art Edwards.
The show’s success has impacted both Valastro and High Noon’s trajectory, and neither party takes that for granted.
“Before Cake Boss, we weren’t really known for doing ‘follow docs,’” says Berger. “And we hadn’t done that much at TLC. So this show really launched us as a company that could capture family, and comedy, and process.
“As a producer, you really do need those winds to draft off of,” he adds. “You can be pigeonholed for doing one or two things and you’re forever trying to bust out of those cages. So that’s what Cake Boss did for us.”
With the ninth season, the series will close in on 250 episodes and when asked how much longer they’ll be able to serve up Cake Boss, both Valastro and Berger say a 15-year-run wouldn’t be out of the question. By Valastro’s estimation, with each episode thus far featuring an average of three cake builds, he and his team are closing in on up to 900 cakes.
“And that would mean 300 over-the-top cakes,” says Valastro, “because we always try to put one in the show.”
One would think Valastro would have to do something very over-the-top once he reaches the 1000th cake.
“Yeah,” he laughs. “I’m gonna retire!”
The eight season of Cake Boss premieres tonight (August 23) at 9 p.m. EST, 8 p.m. Central. Check out an exclusive clip from the season premiere below: