Buddy giving a cake decorating demonstration on Norwegian Getaway.
Buddy Valastro is a television star. He is featured in “Cake Boss” and two spin off series. However, it is not Mr. Valastro's fame that causes guests to not only flock to his Carlo's Bakery on Norwegian Getaway but to pay for his creations when other pastries and cakes can be had for free elsewhere on the ship. Rather, it is the taste and quality of the Carlo's Bakery product.
The original Carlo's Bakery is located in Hoeboken, New Jersey and has been in the Valastro family since 1910. “We are more old school New York style - - even though we are in New Jersey. I have bakeries in New York City as well. I feel like a son of New York even through we are from New Jersey,” Mr. Valastro explains with a smile.
Carlo's Bakery began its relationship with Norwegian Cruise Line when Norwegian was preparing to bring out the New York-themed Norwegian Breakaway. “They really wanted to do a classic New York experience there and that is why they contacted me about having a Carlo's Bakery aboard. We just wanted to bring that old world tradition that we have been doing for so many years aboard a ship. When you look at the cruise line industry, I just think Norwegian is up there and I think that Carlo's Bakery, the quality, the integrity of the product - - the synergy ties so well together. I also think the demographics of the people who cruise, the families, tie into the people who watch 'Cake Boss'. I thought it was a great partnership.”
Indeed, the partnership was so popular that Norwegian has built a Carlo's Bakery into its Miami-themed ship, Norwegian Getaway and is rolling out Carlo's Bakery products throughout its fleet. “We have had a lot of great reviews about the quality of the food. We are really excited about the partnership and it has really worked out.”
Transplanting the bakery from land to sea was not simple. “I learned a lot about how to bake at sea, which is not the easiest thing in the world. You have different factors with humidity, the salt air, different things, how they react to yeast and leveling agents.”
“The thing that I was intrigued most about was the tough, vigorous food safety precautions that are taken on a ship. [When] you bring something aboard a ship, you get scrutinized and checked upside down. Everything has to be a certain temperature, a certain quality, it has to have certain brought on dates. For me it was a real eye-opener.”
“I knew that food served on the ships was top notch and it made me feel good because I knew that the integrity of my product being sold here was going to be maintained and upheld. We do it the same way.”
The products sold on the Norwegian ships are not generic cakes and pastries with a Carlo Bakery label on them. “We send in the raw product, it is all manufactured in my facility in Jersey City and once a week we come to port. It is easier to do it on the Breakaway because it is in New York City but we are sending a truck every week down to Miami for the Getaway. We are doing the same exact thing that we have been doing.”
Of course, Mr. Valastro is not onboard each voyage to turn the raw product into the final product. The Norwegian employee “running the bakery came and trained at our facility. A lot of the stuff is produced at the factory. There are certain things that are not tricky. You stick them in the oven for 15 minutes and they are done. The stuff that is a little more complex and complicated, we train the staff at [our facility] and we constantly communicate back and forth. For the inaugural of the Breakaway, I sent one of my chefs aboard who came over [with the ship] from Germany to work with the staff to really train them and be with them, to make sure that everything was up to the standards.”
“When we port in New York, it is easy for us to come aboard and check things out [but] we are in constant communication with Norwegian. They are a great partner to work with and they really want the stuff to be at the Carlo's Bakery level and have done a great job to maintain it.”
Cruise ship interview - Norwegian Cruise Line - Norwegian Getaway - Buddy Valastro