‘Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro details gruesome hand injury
‘Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro gets teary-eyed on the “Today” show describing how his family helped him after an accident led to a gruesome hand injury.
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“Buddy vs. Duff” is no piece of cake.
The Food Network series, which pits “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro against pastry chef and former “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman, kicks off its third season Sunday (9 EDT/PDT, also streaming on Discovery+).
“It’s definitely the most grueling show I’ve ever filmed,” says Valastro, 44. “It’s a six-day workweek, and it’s probably 15-hour days, every day. You’re just constantly going, and it’s nonstop because you’re really trying to do the best work you do – the biggest, the cleanest, the nicest.”
The pandemic kept the challengers on separate coasts this season. Valastro worked from his hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey, and Duff baked in Los Angeles. Fifty cake artists throughout the U.S. evaluate the chefs’ creations virtually.
Valastro, who creates confections at the family-run Carlo’s Bakery, was the champ in the competition’s sophomore season. As if the pressure of defending his title wasn’t enough, months before the throwdown was planned for last spring, the baker’s hand was repeatedly skewered by a metal rod thanks to a malfunctioning pinsetter at his home bowling alley.
Today he feels “back to 90% to 95%,” which he describes as “insane” given his injury. Valastro says he had his fifth surgery about six weeks before “Buddy vs. Duff” began taping. . (He might need a sixth next year.) “But if this is as good as it’s gonna get, I will take it,” he says. “Comparatively, what happened, I am so blessed and thankful.”
After shooting the cake competition series, Valastro solidified his friendship with model Gigi Hadid, Harper’s Bazaar’s August cover girl. The two met when she played intern at his cake shop in June for the magazine, but the sugar artist has made cakes for Hadid and her boyfriend, singer Zayn Malik. “I told her that she’s got her baker for life,” Valastro says. “So whenever she needs a cake, I’m just a phone call away.”
The cake maker reveals fears his hand injury could hold him back, the cake that made him cry this season and more about his budding friendship with Hadid. (Edited for length and clarity.)
Buddy Valastro thanks doctors who saved hand with giant hospital cake replica: See photos!
More on the incident: ‘Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro’s hand impaled during ‘terrible accident’ at home bowling alley
Question: Were you worried that your hand injury would put you at a disadvantage for “Buddy vs. Duff?”
Buddy Valastro: Honestly, I was so worried, not only about putting me at a disadvantage, but really baking is what I do – it’s part of my life. If I could not do it to the level I was able to do it, I don’t know how I would’ve felt about it. It might have been, for me, the last season of cake competitions I would’ve ever did. I’m not the kind of guy that would want to do it from the sidelines and be the coach.
Q: You’re defending your crown from last year. How much did you want to be the winner again this season?
Valastro: It was less about winning for me. It was more about being able to overcome my hand injury. I was mentally prepared going in to win or lose. Of course, you wanna do the best you can, but Duff and his team did amazing work last season. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and what they can do.
Q: Did you have a favorite challenge this season?
Valastro: The finale was by far my favorite cake that we did, (it) ranked as top three cakes we’ve ever made as a team in the history of the bakery, ever, in my life…It was a perfect cake. So the looks, the special effects, it was clean, it was big. It was everything. Monsters was the theme, and we did a nuclear dinosaur. It was like 21 (feet) long. It probably weighs, I would say, about 1,500-2,000 pounds, and you had all these spikes that were made out of blown sugar that we illuminated. There was only two cakes in my lifetime that I’ve ever made that I cried. And I looked at that cake, and it was just so perfect, and I was so proud of my team, I got emotional. I got choked up.
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Q: Speaking of tears, Gigi Hadid said she cried upon receiving one of your cakes. What was it like to learn that she is such a big fan?
Valastro: She is the sweetest, nicest person. You know how they say people are beautiful on the inside? As beautiful as she is on the outside, I think she’s even more beautiful on the inside. She was so gracious and so nice. It was funny because she really fan-girled (over) me. She met me, and she cried. I was taken back because I still don’t ever feel like a celebrity. But she grew up watching “Cake Boss” with her family. We made a cake together. She’s actually amazingly talented in what she does, too. She’s an artist, and she’s very creative. Her cake came out really good. But we just spent the whole afternoon together, and she was so cool, so down to earth.
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