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Just desserts for ‘Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro on ‘Bakers vs. Fakers’

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Cake Boss Buddy Valastro Cake Boss Buddy Valastro (Photo courtesy of Carlo's Bakery/Tom Donahue)

On each episode of his new Food Network show “Bakers vs. Fakers,” Buddy Valastro (“Cake Boss”) oversees four contestants competing for ultimate bragging rights and a cash prize. 

Over two rounds (and assorted culinary twists and challenges), a mix of professional bakers and home chefs try to impress a rotating panel of judges by coming up with their best desserts.

A blind taste test will determine the best dessert while the true identities of the contestants will be revealed only after a winner is selected.

“Bakers vs. Fakers” premieres Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. on The Food Network. The program (like its predecessor “Cooks vs. Cons”) was created by Valastro’s production company.

Show host Buddy Valastro checked in on Monday to talk about “Bakers vs. Fakers.”

TME: This looks like it will be a fun show. How much money is at stake for the winner of each episode?

Valastro: You’re going to love it. It’s so much fun. If a professional - or “real” - baker wins, they’ll get $10,000. If a faker or amateur baker wins, they’ll get $15,000. That’s a lot of cannolis, you know what I’m saying?

TME: As the host, do you know which contestants are the pros and which ones are the home bakers?

Valastro: No, and I was wrong a couple of times! It’s tough. I was mad at myself for not figuring them all out. That’s part of the beauty of this show. Our job, along with the judges, is to give our baking perspective on who’s the baker and who’s the faker by looking for things like how they hold the pastry bag or how they mix a recipe. Are they doing something too ambitious? I try to give you my tips based on the way I’m seeing things. I have so much fun filming this show. It’s really been amazing and I know people are going to like it. Everybody finds themselves rooting for the amateur.

TME: Tell me about the curveballs that you throw into the mix just to keep the contestants on their toes.

Valastro: One of the twists with this show is in the second round. I come up with an ingredient that they must use and they have no idea what’s coming. There’s also a time constraint on the show. If you have 45 minutes to come up with your best cheesecake, you’re playing with fire. Especially when you add in the twist with whatever I tell them they have to incorporate into their dessert.

The first challenge is a cupcake challenge. I have them come up with their best cupcake. It should be easy right? Anybody should be able to do it. But then I give them five different peppers. They have to choose one or they can use as many as they want to put into the cupcake. There are some seriously hot peppers in there. There’s always a little challenge. It’s not just that they have to bring their best. They also have to be able to think on their feet. It keeps it interesting.

TME: When can fans of “Cake Boss” expect to see new episodes? (note: “Cake Boss” airs on TLC while “Bakers vs. Fakers” will air on the Food Network. The two are not affiliated)

Valastro: I’m not sure when “Cake Boss” is coming back but I know we’re going to film 30 episodes this year. We did 30 new shows last year too. Hopefully it will be back with new shows soon.

TME: Could you give us a preview of something we might see on “Cake Boss” this year?

Valastro: We always try to do things that are near and dear to my heart and pets are one of them. I have my little Bocce – my dog. I love him, you know? He’s like my fifth child. On the upcoming season of “Cake Boss,” you’ll probably see Bocce and me doing things together.

TME: Many years from now when it comes time to retire, which of your four kids do you see taking over Carlo’s Bakery? (Valastro is the owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Due to the success of “Cake Boss,” he has opened 12 additional bakeries, several Italian restaurants called “Buddy V’s” and an event planning and catering company.)

Valastro: That’s a tough one man. I see different attributes in each of my children. Sofia has really got the creative gene. Buddy has the gene where he never gives up. Nothing is impossible for him. Marco has the gift of gab. He could bullcrap his way through anything. He can handle people and everybody loves him. He’s like the mayor. Carlo is still a baby – he’s only five so it’s hard to tell. I see those attributes in them and I could see any one of them putting those things into the business. 

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