IRVINGTON, NJ — Two brothers are proving that, if at first you don’t succeed, you must dust yourself off and try again. They are doing just that. After a fierce competition on the popular Fox television show “Lego Masters” in February, Travis and Corey Samuels, who hail from Irvington and Monmouth Junction, were eliminated; but the pair returned to television screens once more to compete against Buddy Valastro, better known as the Cake Boss, during a Dec. 6 episode of the Food Network’s new hit television series “Buddy vs. Christmas.”
“Cake Boss is a world-famous bakery chef named Buddy Valastro,” Corey Samuels said on Dec. 4. “Buddy is known for baking lifelike cakes, and he loves to compete with other bakers. Oftentimes, he is victorious — hence the name Cake Boss.
“The episode, which airs on Sunday, Dec. 6, was our episode in the series,” Corey Samuels continued. “Our episode is called ‘Toys, Toys, Toys: Brick Builders vs. Cake Masters.’”
Valastro, who hosts “Buddy vs. Christmas” and “Cake Boss,” has also starred in other spin-off shows. Valastro is the owner and head baker of Carlo’s Bakery, which is located in Hoboken.
“‘Buddy vs. Christmas’ is a new series on Food Network,” Corey Samuels said. “For the show, Buddy takes on masters of their craft. We are Lego Masters, so we are the masters he faces off against. The series is a four-episode series, and it’s a one-on-one competition. The judges, Courtney Quinn and Jason Chatfield, were also there to choose the winner of the head-to-head competition.”
Both teams — Team Bakers led by Valastro and Team Makers led by the Samuels brothers — encountered a number of challenges during the competition. Tasked with building the ultimate toy for Christmas with a focus on originality, Team Makers aspired to build a large action-figure–style robot, called Ultra Bot, while Team Bakers incorporated tasty treats into a rocket-powered Santa-themed sleigh.
During the hardship of Travis Samuels’ acute leukemia diagnosis as a child, one thing the brothers did together while spending their Christmas in the hospital was build with Lego bricks given to Travis Samuels by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Even though Team Makers came up with the Ultra Bot idea together, the gigantic action figure was a bittersweet reminder of how it all started for the Samuels brothers.
The “Buddy vs. Christmas’ competition was another great opportunity for them to showcase their talent.
“Cake House Media reached out to us, and I saw this as an opportunity to show the world more of my brother and I,” Travis Samuels said on Dec. 4. “This show is focused more on my brother and I, and I knew I wanted to share this opportunity with fellow Lego Masters.”
Even though the judges were blown away by the incredible display of Team Makers’ life-sized toy, Valastro and his team of bakers won the night, winning a $5,000 reward to donate to a charity of their choosing. Taken aback by the Samuels brothers’ craftsmanship, creativity and talent, Valastro decided to turn over his $5,000 reward to the Samuels brothers, who will donate the Ultra Bot and money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“This is a feeling I cannot express,” Corey Samuels said about Valastro’s donation. “Most people don’t get another opportunity to do it again. Not only were we able to get on TV in the beginning of the year, but we were also able to get back on at the end of the year. It’s a testament to how hard work and dedication can excel you further. We are happy we get to represent Irvington once again and be a role model to children who look like us.”
Travis Samuels agreed with his brother.
“Buddy Valastro was great to us,” he said. “The first day we met him, he had cannoli, cookies and cake for us, and he was so appreciative that we were able to do the show. It was a great experience. We were able to display our personality and bring other friends to be a part of the experience. Most importantly, we were able to give to a great cause, Make-A-Wish, which was the most important aspect of the experience.”
Photos Courtesy of Corey Samuels