Getting to know the 'Kitchen Boss'

Posted at 07/13/2012 5:33 PM | Updated as of 07/13/2012 6:29 PM
Italian-American celebrity chef Buddy Valastro in an episode of "Kitchen Boss." Photo from TLC

MANILA, Philippines – Starting next week, Filipinos will be able to watch Italian-American celebrity chef Buddy Valastro serve Italian dishes on cable television network TLC.

Valastro rose to fame with the premiere of “Cake Boss,” an American reality show that followed Carlo's Bakery, his bakery business in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Here, he and his family create a variety of sweet treats. The show's popularity resulted in increased sales for Carlo's Bakery, which eventually became a tourist attraction.

Valastro's second show is titled “Kitchen Boss,” where the Italian-American chef shares the traditional meals he grew up on, from pizza to dessert. Unlike "Cake Boss," it is a studio-based, straight cooking program.

"Kitchen Boss" will be aired in the Philippines via TLC on Thursdays, 7 p.m., starting July 19.

Valastro spoke to ABS-CBNnews.com in an e-mail interview about Italian food and his view on the current dining scene.

He also shared a simple recipe that he learned from his father.

What can viewers in the Philippines expect from “Kitchen Boss?”

“Kitchen Boss” allows me to share my love of Italian cooking and cooking in general with families across the country. Everyone knows me for my cakes, but I’m actually a great cook, too!

What are some of your memories of food growing up?

I basically grew up in the bakery. I was always there helping my Dad and learning from him. Almost all of my memories growing up are about food!

What inspires your cooking?

It’s really a mix of my Italian heritage and my family! I love cooking Italian food, but if we’re all in the mood for something else, I can whip that up, too.

What is your view on the current dining scene?

You know, I think diners are a lot more educated when they go out to eat than they ever have before! With all the cooking shows out there, people are really getting into cooking and learning more about what goes into their food. I think it’s great.

How do you explain the universal appeal of Italian food?

Besides the cheese and bread? No, really, I think the real appeal of Italian food is its ties to family. Those old family recipes are passed on and on so that no matter how young you are, you have great family traditions to carry on. Not to mention when you use quality ingredients, Italian food is just delicious.

Any basic cooking/baking tips?

For anything that you make, use fresh, quality ingredients. And for cooking, pay attention to the recipe and have fun!

Aside from cooking and baking, what else do you want to do?

Get some sleep! The truth is, I’m living my dream. I am constantly setting goals for myself, so the next challenge I’d like to overcome is shipping across the US. That’s going to be great when I can share Carlo’s Bakery with more of my fans.

What’s your favorite ingredient to work with?

That would probably be fondant. It’s really allowed me and all my decorators to do some really amazing stuff on our cakes. We can go bigger and better with fondant.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

I always love a good slice of pizza. It’s simple and delicious.

What’s the most outrageous thing you have ever eaten?

That would probably have to be the Cajun-style alligator I had on a trip to New Orleans. It was good, though!

What is one thing that you will never, ever eat?

You know, I actually like a lot of different types of food, but I do stay away from pig’s feet.

RECIPE: DAD’S LINGUINE WITH CLAMS (SERVES 4 TO 6)

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh clams, such as littlenecks, in their shells
  • Cold water
  • Salt
  • 1 pound linguini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 15-ounce can clams, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Soak clams in enough salted water to fully cover them for about five to ten minutes to purge sand. Rinse and scrub well, and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add linguini. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add both kinds of clams, wine, clam juice and simmer covered until wine is mostly reduced and the clams open, about three to five minutes.
  4. When the clams have opened, add the linguine and parsley. Stir to combine all ingredients and serve hot.
  5. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

*Note: If clam is already open, tap it on a surface to see if it closes. If it does not close, it is not fresh and you should throw it away. You want all your clams to be closed before you cook them.