'Next Great Baker': Cake Boss meets The Incredible Hulk

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buddy-valestro-cake-boss-next-great-tlc-325.jpgNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently made news when, among other recent events, he met his musical idol, Bruce Springsteen.

This week, another son of the Garden State gets to meet a childhood icon as Lou Ferrigno ("The Incredible Hulk") guest stars on the Monday, Dec. 3, episode of TLC's hit competition series "Cake Boss: Next Great Baker."

"One of my favorite shows growing up was 'The Hulk,' so meeting him was like meeting a hero," host and judge Buddy Valastro tells Zap2it. "And Lou totally lived up to it. He did the Hulk pose with me and everything. We had a great time, and he was such a gentleman. He actually was with us for a long time, like eight hours, so we got to hang out and talk, and I learned a lot more about his personal life. He was an awesome guy."

Valastro doesn't want to give up any major spoilers about this episode, the second of Season 3, but he drops a few hints.

"What I can tell you is that, with Lou Ferrigno there, you gotta think that the challenge is superhero-themed, right? And I'm going to put them through the wringer," he says. "There are moving parts and everything, and I really ask them to do a lot with this one."

The winner of this season will take home $100,000, receive a feature in Redbook magazine and, perhaps most valuable, get an apprenticeship with Valastro's team at Carlo's Bakery.

How long does the winner get to work with you guys at Carlo's?

"It's really as much as they can or cannot do. Marissa (Lopez), who won last year, is one of our employees, so she's with us full time. Dana Herbert, who won the first season, lives in Delaware, and he came down for a couple of months, trained and then wanted to do his own thing. I applaud that and want him to do good, and he still will come down or call from time to time if he has any questions about anything."

How do you rate this year's field of contestants?

"I think this is definitely the strongest cast as far as their talent. I try to have diversity as much an anything else, so we give everyone a chance, from the housewife who's a great baker to the professional pastry chef. It's a chance to catapult their career and elevate what they know."

How did you handle the recent hurricane aftermath?

"One secret to my success is becoming a problem solver. With our hurricane, when the problem came to me, it was 'boom,' I knew who to put where, what to do, who to call and how to do it. Same thing in the baking world, where you have 1,000 pies on order. It's 'OK, you do the pumpkin, you get this, you get that.' "
Photo/Video credit: TLC