The Children's Institute in Verona is hoping an institute-inspired creation by none other than "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro himself will be the icing on top for their annual fundraiser.
Valastro toured the school today with the institute's Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Ettinger, public information officer Ann Dassing, who is also the mayor of Caldwell, and a host of institute staffers eager to sneak a peak at the TLC star in tow.
As he entered a number of classrooms, Valastro warmly greeted students and teachers, and answered a barrage of questions from kids who were excited and curious to be face-to-face with a celebrity chef; "What time is your show on?" ("Weekdays at 5:30."); "What's your last name?" ("Valastro.") "Do you make a lot of money?" ("It's been not so bad.")
He even took part in the impromptu filming of a comedy sketch written by three students, Vincent, Christian and Kevin, in which they spoofed Valastro's show, and his Hoboken accent.
Without missing a beat, and after one quick read-through, Valastro joined in the scene and delivered his lines with the students.
After the shoot, Valastro and his scene partners talked about the show. Kevin asked The Boss about an episode where he was commissioned to make a toilet-shaped cake that actually flushes.
"I know! Who wants a cake shaped like a toilet?", Valastro said.
"What kind of job do I have? It's crazy!"
After the performance, Valastro and the rest of the crowd that had gathered continued their whirlwind tour of the school, stopping next at a place where The Boss felt right at home-- the kitchen.
Children's Institute Chef Joel Scheinzeit was leading half a dozen older students in a cooking lesson in the institute's kitchen-classroom, which is fully equipped with modern appliances. Each had a colorful array of fruits and vegetables on cutting boards where they sat, and Valastro was on-hand providing encouragement to the students.
Then it was time for the surprise -- a three-layer cannoli cake Scheinzeit and the class prepared especially for Valastro's visit.
As he prepared to cut the cake, Valastro told Scheinzeit, "You're a brave man making a cannoli cake for the Cake Boss."
As he took a bite, Valastro was immediately bombarded by questions from staff members eager to know what his seasoned palate thought of the creation.
"It's moist, but you need a little work on the cannoli cream," he said, half-joking, drawing a big laugh from the crowd.
Founded in 1963, The Children's Institute is a school for children ages 3-21 with autism and learning and emotional disabilities. It currently has 160 students and 140 staff members.
Once a year, it raises money to benefit the institute's after school programs not covered by tuition, such as the respite weekend program, technology initiatives and the transition and career education program.
"It's really important we supplement the funds we get to make sure our kids get all the things they need," said Ettinger.
Valastro said he learned about the Institute through family friends who have a son enrolled there, and offered to help raise money by baking one of his unmistakable cakes inspired by the school.
When asked what inspiration he was able to draw from touring the school, Valastro answered in typical Cake Boss style.
"I can tell you one thing: It's going to be spectacular."
Buddy will return with his Institute-inspired confectionery creation for the fundraiser on May 6.