Michael Cook spoke with Tony Albanese, aka “Tony Tone” from TLC’s “Cake Boss” about applying his Fashion Institute of Technology education to whipped cream and chocolate fudge, as well as his identity crisis…
Michael: What have you been up to since you left “The Cake Boss”?
Tony: Yes, “Cake Boss” became a hit and I still get messages from fans all over the world from Italy to Brazil. A lot of them are from young gay fans thanking me for being a gay role model and I find that the most gratifying.
I recently started my own custom cake business, The Pastryarch, and I’ve been busy ever since making different cakes, cupcakes and cake pops every week. I love it. When people order something from me, they know they are getting something made by hand and it hasn’t gone through 10 people. Everything is 100% me.
Michael: Was it hard to develop your own identity when you were on such an established and popular show?
Tony: Yes and no. My boyfriend Chris and I always joke about how I have an identity crisis. All my life, I’ve been Tony. Then, come “Cake Boss” and Buddy’s nickname for me was Tone Tone so most people know me as Tone Tone. Now, people are starting to call me The Pastryarch. Then of course there are people who want to call me Anthony.
Confusing, right? Try fitting all that on a Facebook profile haha. I’m sure I’ll be Tone Tone forever to lots of people but now I definitely embody The Pastryarch. That being said, I was fortunate to be able to show my off my talent on television and my persona wasn’t dependant on drama and petty fights. I’m very proud of that and the audience got to see raw talent.
Michael: You are known for making very elaborate cakes that involve some pretty high profile divas, including Britney Spears’ birthday cake. Who would you love to make a cake for that you haven’t gotten to make one for yet?
Tony: I love doing the high profile cakes. It’s such a rush and I live for a rush. Anyone who knows me will know what I am going to say. Yes, my ultimate cake dream would be to make a cake for Madonna. I’ve made a lot of Madonna cakes already for friends and they are always the cakes that immediately go viral. There have been a few times I have gotten feedback from people in her camp so who knows. Fingers crossed!
Michael: What got you into the world of baking and cake creation?
Tony: A lot of people don’t know I actually went to FIT in NYC for Illustration. Ultimately, I am old school artist and always excelled in drawing and painting. When I was finishing school everything was turning digital and there wasn’t much work for artists like myself.
Then, I started watching shows like Food Network Challenge and would say “I can do that!”. Next, I was at the Institute of Culinary Education and haven’t looked back since.
For me, being a pastry chef is the perfect marriage of my artistic abilities and my culinary skills. This is why I always stress I do things by hand because usually I am literally drawing with chocolate or icing. It is actually harder because you get only one shot to get it right. There’s no eraser for chocolate or food coloring.
Michael: What have your experiences on reality shows taught you?
Tony: They have taught me to be honest. When you are in that situation it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and be someone you’re not. I pride myself in being a very ‘keep it real’, ‘tell it like it is’ person and I always want that to shrine through.
Michael: When you’re not slaving away in the kitchen, where can we find you?
Tony: You can usually find me with my boyfriend or with my friends and family. I am always up for a drink and a night out dancing. Chris and I are also both passionate about healthy eating so we enjoy checking out all Farmer’s Markets and health food stores. At the end of the day, it’s not what you do but who you do it with.
Michael: What’s next for Tony Albanese?
Tony: I want to continue building my business and my brand. My website, www.thepastryarch.com, just got an amazing makeover that I’m very excited about. I would also love to do more television so be sure to keep an eye out for me.