Did you know that it takes five days, on average, to film an episode of TLC's "Cake Boss"?
Or that the show's star, Buddy Valastro, prefers whipped cream over buttercream on cakes? Or that his favorite cake flavor is vanilla cake with French cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate ganache?
Or that as Valastro eyes adding new bakeries, the Windy City could be on the list?
"One city that's definitely on my radar is right here in Chicago," said Valastro.
The famed baker visited Vernon Hills Dec. 7 for a special speaking engagement coordinated by the Cook Memorial Public Library District. A large crowd greeted Valastro as he entered the community room at the Sullivan Center.
Valastro chatted with the crowd for about 45 minutes, talking about the American Dream and answering guests' questions. He also took time to sign books, give out lots of hugs and take pictures with guests.
"At the end of the day, I just want you guys to know—especially you kids out there—that I'm living the American Dream," said Valastro.
When he was a child, Valastro told his family that he wanted "to be the best baker in the world." Valastro said it was his "determination, believing in myself and dreaming big" that got him to where he is today.
"You've got to go to work every day and love it," he said.
Valastro said he became a baker because he has always wanted to create things.
"I step back, I try to create something, I dream it, I visualize it," said Valastro. And, when he's done, he sees that he has accomplished something and "created something spectacular.
"I wanted to always have that feeling," said Valastro.
His father, who passed away when Valastro was just 17, always told him that he could be anything he wanted to be.
"You've got to want it. You've got to go for it. And you've got to work hard," said Valastro.
His show, "Cake Boss," is now on in 187 countries.
"I still believe in the American Dream. And you know what? I'm proof," said Valastro.
Cakes and Cameras
"Cake Boss" debuted in April 2009. Valastro said he has gotten used to having the cameras around.
"The 'Cake Boss' is my life," said Valastro.
And he still loves cake, even after all of these years. Valastro said when he's out on tour, he has a little piece of crumb cake each night.
His favorite cake that he and his crew have made on the show? The Transformers cake.
"We worked so hard on that. I was so proud of what we accomplished," said Valastro. More recently, he loved the Dr. Seuss cake and added that "we have a Spiderman cake coming up that you guys are going to love."
The most expensive cake he's ever made cost $30,000 and included pyrotechnics. Valastro said the 16-foot-long cake was transported by tractor trailer to its Las Vegas destination.
An audience member asked what happens to all of the unused cakes on Valastro's other show, "Next Great Baker."
"Those were fake cakes," said Valastro. "We would never deliberately throw things away."
Instead, day-old cakes are donated to homeless shelters every day. Valastro said his family also donated leftover pies from Thanksgiving, and he took his son along to drop the pies off at the homeless shelter.
"That's so special to me," he said.
Leaving a Legacy
What's really special to Valastro is that he's leaving a legacy for his children, grandchildren and beyond.
"I want to leave a legacy in this world," he said. "I want people to remember Buddy Valastro."