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Chef Judy Joo Talks With Buddy Valastro About Life In and Out of the Kitchen — And Holiday Favorites! (Exclusive)

Chef Judy Joo Talks With Buddy Valastro About Life In and Out of the Kitchen
Chefs Buddy Valastro and Judy Joo pose for a portrait with an assortment of holiday cookies, pastries, and cakes at Carlo’s Bakery Cake Headquarters in Jersey City. Kris Connor/Getty Images

Culinary chats! Celebrity chef Judy Joo sat down with famed baker Buddy Valastro to talk about life in and out of the kitchen — during the holiday season.

Related: Celebrity Foodies: Stars Who Love to Cook

The Cake Boss alum, 45, has created cakes for some of the biggest celebrities in the world. However, during the holidays, Valastro’s wife takes over cooking duties. “Everyone comes to my house and Lisa [Valastro] makes an amazing feast for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” he gushed. “Then, on Christmas morning, we all open presents together and play family games.”

As the Carlo’s Bakery owner awaits this year’s festivities and Lisa’s treats, Buddy speaks with chef Judy Joo about his impressive career, the holiday season and even his surprising kitchen guilty pleasures.

Related: Stars Who Love to Bake: Taylor Swift, Khloe Kardashian and More

Read their chat exclusively for Us Weekly — and get the recipe for his Sunday Gravy — below:

Judy Joo: Does your family have a go-to holiday recipe?

Buddy Valastro: Sunday gravy is a staple in [our house]. You can find the recipe in my book Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss.

JJ: Hosting a big gathering can be stressful. Any tips or advice to help it go smoothly?

BV: Being with the people you love matters the most. I try to take a moment and realize just how lucky I am. All that matters are your loved ones.

JJ: You’ve had such an impressive career. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

BV: My train of thought was always to work harder and longer. But with my life and businesses now, I can’t be in two places at the same time. I had to learn the right recipe for success. You can’t out-work your problems. So now I have systems and procedures in place to make it all flow according to plan.

JJ: You’re known for your sweet treats, but what’s your must-have midnight snack?

BV: Pizza!

JJ: What about your favorite potato chip flavor?

BV: That’s a tough one, but I have to go with salt and vinegar.

Related: Kristin Chenoweth! Mariah Carey! Stars Share Their Favorite Holiday Foods

JJ: Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

BV: I have a new deal with A+E, so I’ll be busy filming some new shows right after the holidays. My e-commerce has really taken off, as well as my new restaurants, one of which is The Boss Café that [recently] opened in Las Vegas.

Buddy Valastro’s Sunday Gravy Recipe

The renowned baker shared his go-to gravy recipe — it serves 8-10 (with leftovers!) — with Us Weekly readers.

Chef Judy Joo Talks With Buddy Valastro About Life In and Out of the Kitchen 2
Bill Milne


1/4 cup olive oil

1 meaty lamb neck bone (about 1lb), cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces with a heavy knife (Ask your butcher to do this)


1lb sweet Italian sausage links (about 8 links)


1 large Spanish onion, diced

5 large garlic cloves, pressed

2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh oregano leaves

3 28-oz cans whole plum tomatoes with their juice

3 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes with their juice

1 empty 28-oz tomato can, filled with cold water

2 tbsp sugar


Chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving


  1. Heat oil in a heavy stockpot or other wide, deep, heavy pot over medium heat until it is shimmering, almost smoking.
  2. Lightly salt the lamb pieces, add them to the pot and sear them, stirring, until golden brown all over, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the sausage links to the pan and sear them, turning as they cook until browned all over, 5-7 minutes. Transfer the braciole to the plate with the other meats.
  4. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, basil and oregano, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes and water and add the sugar. Stir and cook until the sauce comes to a boil. Lower the heat to bring the sauce to a simmer. Return the meats to the pot, along with the meatballs.
  5. Cook the sauce, adjusting the heat to keep it at a low simmer and stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing scorches until cooked to your desired thickness. It can range from thin and mildly flavored to thick and richly flavored. When done to your taste, 2-3 hours, use tongs to transfer the meats to a platter. Stir the sauce and reduce further, if necessary. Taste, and if necessary, add more salt.
  6. Slice the sausage crosswise into individual portions. Remove the string or toothpicks from the braciole and slice it crosswise into portions. Arrange the meats and meatballs on a platter, including the neck bone pieces for those who wish to pick the meat from them.
  7. Serve the sauce with cooked pasta and grated cheese, passing the platter of meatballs and sliced meats.

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