Buddy Valastro may be the first in his family to officially carry the title of "Cake Boss," but the OG Boss was his father, Bartolo Valastro, Sr. He's the guy who taught Buddy all the cake decorating tricks that you (and 2 billion other people worldwide) watch on his TLC show — and Buddy's not quick to let anyone forget that. It's obvious in the photos he's got plastered all over the original Hoboken, NJ, outpost of Carlo's Bakery and the stories he tells on episodes of his show. You'll notice the same picture of Buddy and his father pop up on every June too, as a nod to his dad on Father's Day.
Buddy had to drop out of high school to take over the bakery when his father died in 1994, and for years he was just a baker — not the baker you know today. He got his big break when a Jersey-based editor from Modern Bride walked by Carlo's Bakery and noticed his cakes. She put him in the magazine, which was the first feature of the now more than 200 he's been in.
After that, he turned to the forum every other wannabe chef or baker does: TV competitions. When TLC bigwigs saw Buddy onscreen, they called offering him a show, and the rest is history. (Very well-documented history, mind you.)
Buddy's high school dropout-turned-celeb chef story is enough to make the constant jokester tear up. "It's surreal," he says, choking up at what his father's shop has become. Carlo's Bakery now has 18 locations across the country and one in Brazil. And if you think that's given Buddy a big head, he's got this to say: "I never, ever forget where I come from."