Growing up in a family business doesn't always mean the child will follow in the parents' footsteps, but for Buddy Valastro, it was a no-brainer.
The star of TLC's "Cake Boss," Valastro owns Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, N.J. His show, now in its third season, came about after participating in several Food Network challenges. Earlier this month, his first book, "Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia," hit the shelves.
"I was lucky enough to find my dream job when I was 14," says Valastro. "I truly love what I do. I get such a great feeling when I create something. I go to work happy every day. I love what I do, I do what I love. I'm one of those people who found their dream job."
On the show, Valastro and his staff have created some fairly off-the-wall cakes, including a recent order for Oprah Winfrey, to celebrate her magazine's 10th anniversary, and a recent creation for a plumbing company: a cake, shaped like a toilet -- with the ability to flush.
"That one was pretty out there," Valastro says. "Being able to do that, giving them what they wanted ... stuff like that, it's a feeling you can't explain. It's like seeing your child doing something for the first time. It's amazing."
Thousands flock to the Hoboken shop each year and as the crowds got bigger and bigger, a live tour seemed to be the next logical step. Thursday, that tour stops at the Riverside in Milwaukee. Valastro also appears at Boswell Book Co. earlier in the day.
"It's a great time," Valastro says. "Its a show where you can bring a 4-year-old or your great-grandmother. You laugh, you might cry, but you'll leave feeling better about yourself. I want to give people a sense of who I am and what I do."
During the show, Valastro talks about his background and history in the family's bakery as well as answering questions from audience members. A few lucky show-goers also get the chance to come onstage to decorate cakes with him.
One of the biggest lessons Valastro tries to emphasize is the importance of following recipes to the letter when baking.
"It's really a science," he says. "In cooking, you can add or subtract a little; make some changes but it's not going to kill anybody. In baking, though, it's got to be precise. You have to use those exact measurements. That's the hardest part."
Afterward, Valastro says he hangs around to meet and greet fans -- his favorite part of a tour stop.
"I live for that part of a show," Valastro says. "I get to hear how the show impacted their lives. I've heard from servicemen and women who followed the show overseas, I've talked to people who watched while they were going through chemo ... I get to hear a lot of inspirational stories."
Later this year, a spin-off show, "The Next Great Baker," premiers on TLC. Contestants will compete for a $50,000 prize and the chance to win join Valastro's staff.