At a very young age I remember day dreaming of opening my own bakery, a vision etched in my head encompassing every detail. My Father worked for Rosers Bakery in Chicago, a very popular bakery in its time. “Daddy” time was very scarce and as you can image I was more than thrilled with the opportunity of being Daddy’s little helper for the day. These were very special days as being one of seven children my Father held several jobs at once to keep a roof over our head, and worked seven day a week, so we didn’t see him much. Every once in a while he would pass by the house in the early afternoon on a Saturday and scoop me up to accompany him on a wedding cake delivery, I was awestruck by the fabulous wedding cakes as they sat wobbling slightly in the back our station wagon, and holding my breath to ensure the safety of the cake, and even more excited as we walked through the fabulous venues dressed with lights and ribbons and bows, I recall contemplating, that one day, that would be me. I would be the one to create masterful wedding cakes and deliver to the bride and watch her excitement as it was coming together before her very eyes, and the expression of joy.
Now, more than 30 years later I’m finally living my dream and my life is phenomenal.
Onto the real story………..of course I’m a loyal fan of the Cake Boss and watch his show religiously as there is always so much to learn and am curious to see what his next outrageous project will be. While watching one evening there was a short commercial for the Bakin’ with the Cake Boss contest, simply enter your favorite cake on the TLC website and wait for your peers to vote. My husband suggested that I enter, and I simply laughed and said “I could never compete at that level, I’m a novis and certainly not talented enough to win”. The next morning I thought, “What do I have to lose”, I may as well enter and see what happens. As soon as I loaded in my Harry Potter cake, I became obsessed. Checking the website every few hours to see where my cake stood among the amazing cakes that were in my category. I didn’t realize how far across the country the home baker mania had spread. There is amazing talent out there, and didn’t hold much hope for my little Harry Potter cake. A grueling process I might add. Allowed to vote only once a day, along with family, friends and our customers we pretty much spread the word to everyone we knew, how hard could it be for a few weeks, right? The day before the content was supposed to end they announced a three week extension, my heart dropped, we were in the lead, and I’m not sure how my nerves would hold together for another three weeks, this was killing me, never had I been so obsessed over anything before, I felt like a child waiting for Santa. Finally, the contest ended and we were in first place – oh yeah – first place. The winners were supposed to announced over the course of a week……………the dreaded waiting begins again.
Impatiently my eight year old Daughter Gracie and I would check our messages daily waiting for the announcement of the winners, and the email never came. We had finally given up and accepted the agony of defeat, and as we wiped away our tears we hear the chime of a new email arriving and we both took off running to the computer as fast as we could, and to our amazement, there it was – a message from High Noon Productions, with anticipation I opened our email and found the following message, Congratulations – you have won the Bakin’ with the Cake Boss contest. We were both screaming in disbelief and Gracie was jumping up and down chanting – “We’re going to meet Buddy”, “We’re going to meet Buddy”. I must have read the email another dozen times to be sure I was reading it correctly. Dreams really do come true.
The event was only a few days later at the Rosemont Theater (thank goodness as I couldn’t play the waiting game any longer). It is hard to put into words the excitement I felt as we took our seats and Buddy walked across the stage, I couldn’t believe we were only a few hundred feet from a man that I truly admire and has inspired so many people. The event was more than two hours, and the time flew by quickly. From the pics you’ll be able to see that he presented a great show – containing all sorts of audience participation, and even showing off and decorating cupcakes blindfolded (loved that part). He then took us on a journey with him through his background and how he came to love the business as a young boy. His father died of cancer when Buddy was only 15 and shortly thereafter he dropped out of school and took ownership of Carlos Bakery. As I listened to his story, I thought to myself that nothing is impossible, dreams can come true if you really believe in yourself and your dream, and if you dream, dream big. Touched by his story I felt a tear run down my cheek and knew I was doing the right thing.
As the show came to an end we were invited as VIP guests – (yes VIP’s) to go back stage and meet Buddy in person, in disbelief as we moved closer and closer to Buddy I had to pinch myself to ensure it was real as I couldn’t believe I was only a few feet away from Buddy himself. After what seemed like a lifetime it was finally our turn, we stepped towards him and he welcomed us with open arms, gave me a huge hug (nearly squeezed my insides out, but I didn’t mind at all) and acted as if he’d know us forever. He congratulated us on our win, and autographed our book and of course Gracie’s shirt and posed for a few pictures. A memory I will hold with me for a lifetime. His new book Bakin’ with the Boss is a must read to truly understand his heritage and his life story.
Perhaps next year I may drum up the nerve to enter the “Next Great Baker”, and you should too. You never know what could happen………….