Buddy Valastro may be known as the affable star of the hit TLC show Cake Boss, but he’s more than just a baker. He’s also quite an accomplished cook – so it should come as no surprise that his latest book, Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss: Family Favorites as Only Buddy Can Serve Them Up, is filled with 100 Italian- American recipes from Buddy’s colorful “famiglia” – from his grandmother’s secret dishes to Buddy’s personal favorites.
Recently, the Barnes & Noble at Wilkes-King’s bookstore welcomed the gregarious and entertaining Valastro to sign copies of his cookbook and meet his loyal fans.
“It was a great event,” Barnes & Noble Bookstore Manager John Chaump said. “We had over 200 people attend the book signing and Buddy took the time to pose for a photo with every single person that came to see him. He’s such a down-to-earth nice guy. You can’t help but like him.”
Located in the Innovation Center, a former Woolworth five and dime in downtown Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the Barnes & Noble at Wilkes-King’s bookstore has become the central hub for students, the local community and tourists. Supporting two schools – Wilkes University and King’s College – the bookstore has played an important role in the successful revitalization of the downtown. When Barnes & Noble opened in 2006, Chaump set out to make the store an important thread in the fabric of Wilkes-Barre.
“People look at Barnes & Noble as a community meeting place, not just somewhere you go to buy books,” he said. “It’s a place where you go to have a cup of coffee, meet with friends, bring your children for story hour and just hang out. The Innovation Center and the bookstore contributed greatly to the renewal of this city.”
Later that night, Valastro made an appearance at the F.M. Kirby Center, a local performing arts theater in Wilkes Barre. The fourth-generation baker demonstrated cooking techniques and recipes, shared stories about his eccentric Italian family, and invited audience members on stage to meet the “Cake Boss” face to face. The bookstore also provided books for this event.
Chaump also stated that the store frequently partners with local businesses to provide books for local events.
“I’m the president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association, so I know quite a few people that work at the theater and other downtown organizations in Wilkes Barre,” Chaump explained. “Staying connected to the community helps us to partner with these organizations and provide support for their events.”
Special Events Coordinator for the city of Wilkes-Barre Lore Majikes said that the community assistance Chaump and the local Barnes & Noble bookstore provides is invaluable.
“The city right now, as with many cities across the country, is experiencing some economic difficulties. If it weren’t for the people who were involved in the downtown, we wouldn’t be able to hold events like these – not just monetarily, but on a volunteer-basis too. We need these people to help us and to help support the events that we hold.”
Chaump said that he was able to establish his important business connections and become elected president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association by attending meetings and becoming involved with the local Chamber of Commerce early on after moving to Wilkes-Barre. He said doing so not only helped connect the city to Barnes & Noble, it helped better the community of Wilkes-Barre as a whole.
“I think the Buddy Valastro book signing is just another great example of the things we do to stay involved in our community. We are a part of Wilkes-Barre.”