Buddy Valastro
Baker, reality TV star
Born: March 3, 1977, in Hoboken, New Jersey
Lives in: Montville, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2017: Enterprise

Leave it to New Jersey to nurture America’s most famous baker. From his business success to his winning personality, Buddy Valastro epitomizes New Jersey.

The son of Italian immigrants, Bartolo Valastro Jr. was raised in Hoboken and Little Ferry. He attended Ridgefield Park High School and took baking classes at Bergen County Technical High School in Teterboro. Technical school aside, Valastro learned the baking trade from his father, Bartolo Sr.

By age 11, Valastro was already working alongside his father at Carlo’s Bakery, the family’s Hoboken bake shop. Six years later, with his father’s untimely death, Valastro took over the business. Over the coming decades, the man who became known as “The Cake Boss” would expand the business to as many as 20 locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Nevada and Minnesota.

With the younger Valastro at the helm, Carlo’s Bakery (founded in 1910 by Carlo Guastaffero) became known for its imaginative, often-extravagant cake designs. At the same time, Valastro became known for his out-size personality. He made his reality-TV debut in 2007 as a guest mentor on “Food Network Challenge.” Two years later, TLC gave Valastro his own series, “Cake Boss”; it would run through 2020.  Valastro also hosted four “Cake Boss” spinoffs: “Next Great Baker,” “Kitchen Boss,” “Buddy’s Bakery Rescue” and “Bake You Rich.”

As an entrepreneur, Valastro’s other ventures include a catering business, a restaurant (Buddy V’s Ristorante at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas) and a pet-treat manufacturing partnership. As a philanthropist, Valastro has been a major supporter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics, among other causes. He also has written several cookbooks, baking books and a memoir.

Not every moment has been sweet for Valastro. In September 2020, he underwent two emergency surgeries after his right hand was impaled by a pinsetter in his home bowling alley.

Still, Valastro has always considered himself lucky. In 2010, he told Italia Living magazine: “I found my dream job and passion when I was 11–and I still have it.  I love what I do and I am good at it, which makes me incredibly lucky and blessed.”

Intro/Acceptance Video