When Food Network star Duff Goldman got into baking elaborate cakes, he was just trying to pay the bills while pursuing his real dream of rock stardom. So what happened? This week we talk with the Ace of Cakes host about his deep artistic roots, the risks he took as a teenage graffiti artist, and why he almost gave up on the food industry altogether. Ten years after Ace of Cakes ended, Duff is still starring in Food Network shows — but he can’t completely shake the sense that any moment, it could all disappear.
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The Sporkful production team includes Dan Pashman, Emma Morgenstern, Andres O'Hara, Johanna Mayer, Tracey Samuelson, and Jared O'Connell.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- “Sun So Sunny Instrumental” by Calvin Dashielle
- "Hennepin" by James Buckley and Brian Bradley
- "Homefront" by Jack Ventimiglia
- "Playful Rhodes" by Stephen Sullivan
- "Iced Coffee" by Josh Leininger
- "When You’re Away" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
- "New Old" by J.T. Bates
Photo courtesy of Charm City Cakes.
Dan Pashman: You’ve said that if you want to be a chef, you have to be obsessed with food. And I even heard you spend quite a lot of time dissecting the practice of taking a single bite out of a Reese's peanut butter cup.
Duff Goldman: When you take a bite of the Reese's, first, there’s two sort of tactile things that happen. One, those little ridges kind of poke up into your lip. And then underneath, the chocolate’s super thin, and your tongue can actually press up into the peanut butter. You get chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and then you get salty peanut butter. And just that salty mixed with that sweet — it's such a perfect bite. The ratio is perfect. Reese’s, I think, are one of the most well-designed candies in the world.
Dan Pashman: And we’re talking about the original low, wide, flat Reese's peanut butter cup, not the more newfangled, less good, tall one.
Duff Goldman: Yeah, I don't — I don't even know what that is. It doesn’t even like — when I'm in 7/11 I can't even see that thing.
Dan Pashman: Right. [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters. I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. Today, I’m talking with Duff Goldman. He started out as the star of Ace of Cakes on Food Network, now he’s on Buddy vs. Duff, Duff’s Happy Fun Bake Time, and Kids Baking Championship. He’s known for his goofy, childlike enthusiasm, evidence by the time he told one young competitor to hit him with a pie in the face.
CLIP (DUFF GOLDMAN): Come here Jane. See that pie right there?
CLIP (JANE): Yeah.
CLIP (DUFF GOLDMAN): Let me grab that pie.
CLIP (JANE): Oh gosh.
CLIP (DUFF GOLDMAN): [LAUGHING] I signed up for this, Jane.
CLIP (JANE): Okay.
CLIP (DUFF GOLDMAN): Give it to me right in the face. [SPLAT]
Dan Pashman: Duff’s also known for making extravagant, over the top cakes. They’re almost edible sculptures or art installations, like the time he made a life-size motorcycle cake complete with revving engine and fake exhaust coming out of the tailpipe. A lot of detail goes into making these cakes. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Duff has a even more opinions about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Duff Goldman: Opening the package of a Reese's used to be a lot more pleasant. Now that they use this weird sort of plastic cellophane, it's not as fun.
Dan Pashman: It used to kind of have like the envelope fold underneath, right?
Duff Goldman: Yeah, it had that. And you could slide your pinky and pop it open. Remember that? You would just like —
Dan Pashman: Mmm. Yeah.
Duff Goldman: Right. And then, so once you get the Reese's out of the package, peeling the paper off without knocking off some of the serrated chocolate, that's the trick, right?
Dan Pashman: You're talking about the paper cup that it's sitting in.
Duff Goldman: Yeah. It's like peeling a sticker. Right? You gotta, you gotta just get your thumb right on it. Peel that paper back. Then when he grabbed the paper and you pull it off and he goes, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click. You know?
Dan Pashman: All the way around the perimeter.
Duff Goldman: You know, and it's not like a smooth — it does just go, [SWOOSH]. It goes [CLICKING]. Right? And that's a nice little sensation.
Dan Pashman: It's interesting that you are so focused on the tactile experience of eating a Reese's peanut butter cup. Like I think it's telling that that's something that you are so attuned to because you come from a long line of artistic people, like a long line of makers, who have made things that you can feel and touch and interact with.
Duff Goldman: Yeah, my great-grandmother was she was a milliner. She made like ladies hats back in the thirties when she came to this country. She was also a weaver. She had this huge loom and she would make all this stuff. And she was a baker, she was a really good baker. She taught me how to make a filo dough. And then my grandmother was a silver smith, an enamel smith, and a photographer. My mom is a — she's a stained glass artist, and, she does mosaics. And I was a graffiti artist and a metal sculptor. But you know, and then I moved to cooking, which, you know, I find is one of the most challenging of arts. Because with painting, for example, right? You paint a picture, people look at it and you're trying to elicit an emotional response just by what they're looking at. With cooking, you taste it, you smell it, you see it, you touch it. You're so intimately involved with food. And you eat it. You take something and you put it inside of your own body, which is, you know, kind of a weird thought. Like, you don't really think about that too much.
Dan Pashman: I haven’t eaten many paintings but it would be a different way to interact with art.
Duff Goldman: Yeah. A hundred percent. It wouldn't taste good. Right?
Dan Pashman: Right.
Duff Goldman: Those water lilies are a little ... little bitter.
Dan Pashman: Food has to connect with every sense. It has to work in so many different ways.
Duff Goldman: Yeah. And like what's going to taste better? Super fried, crunchy crinkle, cut French fries on a ceramic plate versus a plastic red basket with a piece of wax paper in the bottom of it?
Dan Pashman: Plastic red basket.
Duff Goldman: A hundred percent. Right? That's just — that's part of the experience.
Dan Pashman: Duff’s been thinking a lot about food since he was a kid. Growing up, he’d hang out in the kitchen while his mom cooked. She’d turn on their little black and white kitchen TV, and together they’d watch the classic food shows of the '70s and '80’s: Chef Tell, The Frugal Gourmet, and Julia Child.
Duff Goldman: I just thought they were hilarious. Right? I was a little kid and I'm like, these adults are funny and different than all the other adults that I know. All the adults that I know are miserable people. And these guys seem like they're having a pretty good time. Kids love seeing things made and seeing things done. It looks like magic.
Dan Pashman: When he was 13, Duff found something that combined his artistic roots with his nonstop craving for fun: graffiti. He'd sketch his paintings, then work up the nerve to paint them outside, for real, on a cement culvert underneath a street a few miles from his house.
Duff Goldman: So I snuck down there one night, and I did my first piece and it was terrible. it just said "DUFF" in block letters. You know? So then I went back and I painted over it and I did it again and I it did again — I just kept going over and over. And my mom was like, "Where, you know, where are you going every day?" I'm like, "Oh, I'm just riding my bike around and doing stuff."
Dan Pashman: So what was not good about it?
Duff Goldman: Uh, it just wasn't very creative and it was sloppy, you know? It's like graffiti is just like everything else. I mean, you really have to — you have to practice. And you know, eventually I got pretty good at it. And then I started like doing buses and trains and things that I really shouldn't have been painting on.
Dan Pashman: What did you like about it?
Duff Goldman: It was fun to break the law. It was fun to go sneak out. You know? It's fun to like, be part of this secret club that not a lot of people knew about. And you're making these incredible, beautiful paintings. You know what I mean? Like you a really nice stuff where like, I went down on that culvert and there was like all kinds of bad words and just stupid stuff that was put on the wall. And like to cover it up with something colorful and beautiful was like, you know, oh yeah, I'm doing ... I'm doing a good job. I’m making it better. But it was fun! I mean, I'm not recommending that you go do it. It's incredibly dangerous.
Dan Pashman: But also kind of fun —
Duff Goldman: But it was kind of fun! Right? It's got a fun. When you're 13, 14-years-old and you jump a 12-foot fence into a train yard and spray paint a train, and you might get chased by the cops, you might get chased by dogs, you might get chased by other graffiti writers. I think one of the things that it did for me was like, I'm not really scared of much, you know? I don't have a lot of fear. And I think that like conquering those fears when you're that age, it sticks with you. Walking out onto a stage, for example, and there's 2000 people and I'm gonna improv two hours of just whatever, you know, it would scare a lot of people. Like I just don't have that fear. Like walk out. I'm like, all right, let's do this.
Dan Pashman: You got so into graffiti art that you needed more money for spray paint. You worked at a bagel shop, you got in trouble for making the sandwiches too big. So you got a job at McDonald's.
Duff Goldman: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: When you worked at McDonalds you also got in trouble for putting your own spin on the fries.
Duff Goldman: Oh yeah. Yes. [LAUGHS] I just — listen. I just thought that they needed like another 25 seconds. So, and every time the beeper would go off, I turn the alarm off and I would stand there.
Dan Pashman: You wanted them a little golden brown, a little crispier.
Duff Goldman: Tiny bit more. They weren't into it.
Dan Pashman: You mean, this multi-national multi-billion dollar global conglomerate that may be best known of all things for the consistency of its french fries didn't want teenage Duff Goldman to put his own spin on the fries?
Duff Goldman: Listen, people make mistakes. Right? You know? People make mistakes and sometimes you just —
Dan Pashman: Who was making the mistake in this scenario? You or McDonald's?
Duff Goldman: McDonald's! They knew! Like …
Dan Pashman: But we see a consistent through line of — you had a lot of your own ideas about the way you thought that these restaurants should be operating.
Duff Goldman: A hundred percent.
Dan Pashman: After his stint at McDonalds, Duff decided he wanted to make more of a go at cooking. He was still in college at the time, so he applied for an apprenticeship at a fine dining restaurant in Baltimore. But his only experience cooking to that point was at McDonald’s, so the head chef was skeptical. She decided to start him out on something basic — cornbread and biscuits. Nothing but cornbread and biscuits.
Duff Goldman: And I did it every day for two years and I was like, I was born to do this. This is what I want to do. Absolutely just fell in love with baking. Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Why? What was it about baking?
Duff Goldman: For me, it was like a little more thoughtful and it was like less immediate than cooking. Cooking is like a fast, you know? Bang, bang, bang, you know, like when you're cooking on the line.
Dan Pashman: Right. You're throwing stuff in a pan or over the fire, and it's done in a few minutes.
Duff Goldman: Yeah. You know, and I love like — by the way, I love to cook. Right? I love to cook and I'm good at it.
Duff Goldman: But for like baking, the thing that really kinda got me was it was a little more cerebral. You know, I was a philosophy major, so I'm — I like to think and overthink and analyze and overhead, but I'm Jewish. So, you know, I just obsess about everything and I'm constantly like, you know, what's going on here, what's going on? You know what I mean? I'm just — I'm a neurotic Jew and I love baking because there's so many things to be neurotic about.
Dan Pashman: You know, it’s funny because I'm also a neurotic Jew and I think I dislike baking for the same reason.
Duff Goldman: [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: Because like the immediacy of like when you're cooking in a pan, the heat, and it's all going to be done soon. And it makes it impossible to overthink it. I overthink other things.
Duff Goldman: Yeah, I was going to say you probably have a good outlet, right, that you overthink.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Duff Goldman: Right? Right? There's something else in your life that you get to completely obsess about and just be who you are. And so you're like, I don't want to do that with baking cause I have it other places and I need a break, right?
Dan Pashman: Right. No, that's right. I obsess about the podcast or my job, or life and work things, you know? So for me cooking is like meditation. it's like the escape from that.
Duff Goldman: Hmm.
Dan Pashman: So, soon after spending two years making cornbread, you ended up at French Laundry, one of the pre-eminent fine dining destinations in the world. It's famous for great food, but also famous for being a very intense place to work.
Duff Goldman: Yeah, it's a intense. It was intense. Yeah. [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: I would imagine they don't want you to tweak their French fry recipe.
Duff Goldman: Nu-uh.
Duff Goldman: Nope. And I didn't try. I didn't try. You know, right. You get in there, you just like you do this exactly how they showed you how to do it. Don't change anything. And even if you don't like the method, just do it until you like it.
Dan Pashman: And what did you learn from that experience there?
Duff Goldman: One thing I learned is that it's that kind of environment is not a very good fit for me. I mean, you can probably imagine that would be a square peg in a round hole, right?
Dan Pashman: Right. In retrospect it seems obvious, but —
Duff Goldman: I'm a goofball.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Duff Goldman: I'm a big — I'm a clown. But I tell you though, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was just incredible. And I think the thing that I loved about it was seeing the pursuit of excellence. Right? Seeing people who are really, really trying to make everything perfect and exactly the way that they're envisioning it, you know, and really — like when we were talking about the Reese's peanut butter cup. Same thing. It's like people really thinking about all the little things that go into every bite. You know, and seeing that, I think really kind of like awakened me just to its existence. Just like understanding that that level of dedication could be there.
Dan Pashman: I saw a quote where you said that you said, "You learned the depth of yourself there, at French Laundry." Tell me about that.
Duff Goldman: Well, you learn — you know, you're doing this very, very intense thing, you know? And every plate has to be perfect. It has to be perfect. Your first plate of the night and you're like, all right, let's do this. You know? And you make your first plate and it goes out and you're like, awesome. Making your last plate with that same intensity and that same energy? That's where you learn about yourself.
Dan Pashman: So at The French Laundry Duff saw what it was like to pursue perfection. He realized he could summon that intensity. But as he said, he also learned that that was not the environment for him. After about a year, he decided to leave.
Duff Goldman: I was in a dark place. I had decided a long time ago, like I want to be a chef. This is what I want to do. And I get a job at the French laundry, which for me, it was —
Dan Pashman: It's like getting into Harvard.
Duff Goldman: Yeah, like this is the best restaurant in the world. Why would I ever want to leave? Like, I made it, I made it, I'm doing it. And I'm there. And I was like, I ... I don't think I could do this. I was having an existential crisis, like this thing that I thought that I loved, if this was the pinnacle of what it is, I don't want to be there. It's like, well then now what?
Dan Pashman: Coming up, how did Duff go from existential crisis to food TV stardom? He’ll tell us. Stick around.
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. And I got some exciting news for you! The Sporkful is nominated for a Webby Award! This is a big deal in podcasting, so I would really appreciate it if you could please take a quick second and vote for us. You can do it right now while you're listening.
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Dan Pashman: Okay, back to Food Network star Duff Goldman. After the French Laundry, Duff was at a loss. He says he felt broken. He packed up and moved out to Colorado, crashed on a friend's couch, did a lot of snowboarding. Pretty soon, he ran out of money. And it just so happened that a local hotel was looking for a pastry chef.
Duff Goldman: And I was like, man, I've never worked in a hotel, first of all, and I do not want to be the pastry chef of a hotel. I am burnt. I'm done. I'm a — you know, I'm a quivering hunk of meat. But I went in and I was like, maybe I can convince this guy to just let me bake bread. Right? Cause baking bread is one of the — it's one of my favorite things to do. And if I can just go to the hotel and get there at like two in the morning and bake all the bread and leave before anybody else comes in, I don’t even have to deal with anybody else? Just go in and bake bread, it would be the perfect existence.
Dan Pashman: But the head chef, Jesse Llapitan, talked Duff into baking much more than bread. Duff took the job as the hotel’s pastry chef, and he and Jesse got close.
Duff Goldman: He just kinda took me under his wing and he taught me how to do it. And he fixed me. He kind of showed me that it's fun again. We have a great team there and everybody was, you know, really fun and supportive and cool. We were always like playing jokes on each other and he like showed me the joy again.
Dan Pashman: Duff got back to chasing that joy. He moved back to Baltimore and was working as a personal chef. But at this point, getting a Food Network show hadn’t even crossed his mind because he was pursuing a completely different dream: being a rock star.
Dan Pashman: He plays bass and drums. He and his buddies formed a band, and they were doing well. They played bigger venues, opened for some pretty well known groups — Clutch, Linkin Park. But being a personal chef wasn’t compatible with the life of a rocker.
Duff Goldman: So I quit that job. And I started making cakes in my apartment, so I could pay the rent. But then if I was the one making the cakes, I could decide when not to work. And so that way I could be on tour or make a record or, you know, do the things I needed to do to be in a band.
Dan Pashman: That cake shop Duff was running out of his apartment would become Charm City Cakes. The bakery where Ace of Cakes, the Food Network show that made him famous, would eventually be set.
Dan Pashman: But back in those early days, Charm City Cakes was a very different place. Duff hired some of the guys in his band and some friends from the local art school. He describes it as a motley crew of eccentric weirdos, making increasingly eccentric cakes. And pretty soon, they came up with another eccentric idea: Let’s do a live cooking show on stage. And unlike Duff’s later work, let's make it not at all family friendly. He called it “ F You Let’s Bake” – but not the PG way I’m saying it.
Dan Pashman: And at one point he stripped down to nothing but a cup and had the audience throw raw eggs at him. Beyond that, the whole thing was just weird …
Duff Goldman: I would like make a cake, the lights would go out, the lights would come back on. There'd be a team of ninjas and I'd have to like fight the ninjas, while I was like making little flowers.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS]
Duff Goldman: Or like I would make souffle. You know, for everybody, and I would make the entire place be super quiet because souffle's where in the oven. Everybody had to whisper. Right? And so, you know, like really fun, but also like not family friendly comedy.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: F You Let's Bake may not have been ready for prime time, but it showed that Duff had major star potential. His brother was a TV producer, and helped him shop around a demo reel. Eventually, they landed the Food Network show Ace of Cakes, which debuted in 2006. It showed Duff and his friends at work at Charm City Cakes, creating ever bigger, crazier, more complex cakes.
CLIP (DUFF GOLDMAN): This week we are making a working replica of a brand new roller coaster called …
Dan Pashman: With Duff, a cake that just sits there is never enough.
CLIP (DUFF GOLDMAN): We need a customizable working roller coaster model. [LAUGHING] I want the roller coaster to actually go through the cake. All right. Go team.
Dan Pashman: Even though he now had a TV show, Duff still stuck to that DIY lifestyle. He’d drive halfway across the country to deliver a cake himself. Sleeping in his car along the way, and using his engine to heat up canned foods for snacks.
Dan Pashman: Duff often decorated his cakes using edible spray paint, so all that graffiti work came in handy. And it prepared him for working on a large canvas, whether it’s a highway overpass, or a cake model of Hogwarts. Duff was known to bust out blow torches and power tools in the cake shop. This was the kind of fun he was looking for.
Dan Pashman: Duff became one of the country’s best known cake makers. So I had to take some time in our conversation to debate the finer points of his work.
Dan Pashman: Buttercream or fondant?
Duff Goldman: You know ...
Dan Pashman: Wait, sorry. First question: Do you say fondant or fonDANT?
Duff Goldman: Come on, man.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS]
Duff Goldman: Fondant. It’s not fonDANT. Right? That's not how you say it. Okay.
Dan Pashman: All right. Okay. Fair enough. Fondant. So, but buttercream versus fondant. Which is better and why?
Duff Goldman: You know, my friend, those two are not mutually exclusive. Right? So the thing about fondant is that I liken it to a banana peel, right? A banana peel, looks pretty, it kinda changes colors. They’re nice to look at it. It keeps the banana from getting beat up and bruised. It keeps it moist. It keeps the banana good. So you bake a cake, you cover it in buttercream and then you cover it in fondant. The fondant keeps it moist, keeps it together and makes it look cool. Then when it's time to eat it, you peel off the fondant and you eat all the good stuff underneath.
Dan Pashman: So when you eat a cake covered in fondant, you don't eat the fondant.
Duff Goldman: No, it's gross.
Dan Pashman: What’s your ideal ratio of frosting to cake in a bite of cake?
Duff Goldman: I'd probably say like three to one, cake to frosting.
Dan Pashman: Okay. I mean, to me, the cake is like a frosting conduit.
Duff Goldman: Too much frosting is gross, man. Like too — like when you get a cupcake and it's got like three inches of, you know, cold buttercream on top? That’s just dumb.
Dan Pashman: I feel like as I've gotten older, my ratio has changed. Maybe a couple of decades ago, I would have wanted it like 50-50.
Duff Goldman: Hm.
Dan Pashman: But now I'm more want it, three parts cake to one part buttercream. But do put a lot of thought when you have a multi-layer cake and then you have the backside of the slice that has the exterior frosting.
Duff Goldman: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: You got to put a lot of thought into how you sort of carve out your bites so that you're spreading the frosting evenly and equitably throughout the bites. Do you have a strategy for that?
Duff Goldman: What I'll try to do is like, I'll take my fork and get a little bit of the backside and then take a bite of a thing. And then I almost use the backside, like a reservoir. You know?
Dan Pashman: Yes. That's a pro move right there.
Dan Pashman: In 2011, Ace of Cakes came to an end after 10 seasons. He left the Baltimore location of Charm City Cakes in the hands of his trusted employees, and moved out to L.A. to open a west coast branch of the bakery. It was a big leap for him — maybe his biggest yet. Around the time he was getting ready to make this move, he was profiled in the Baltimore Sun newspaper, and he said, "I would be stupid if I wasn't nervous. I'd be stupid if I wasn't scared. But being nervous and scared are great motivators. There's nothing like painting yourself into a corner to motivate yourself to perform." I asked him how it felt to hear that quote today, 10 years later. And he traced that feeling of fear even further back.
Duff Goldman: When I quit my job as a personal chef and I woke up the next day, uh, I had no paycheck and I had enough money in my bank account that I could pay my bills for about two months, if I didn't sell a single cake. And I was like all right, I got two months to start making money. You just don't have a choice. Like, I don't have a choice. I have to succeed.
Dan Pashman: I understand that kind of fear early in your career, but in 2011, at that point, you're a TV star. Charm City Cakes is doing well. You're moving to L.A. So I think that some people would be surprised to hear that you were still scared or nervous about that.
Duff Goldman: I'm still terrified of stuff. You know? But the thing is, and like we were talking about this earlier about sort of like jumping those train yards and, you know, being terrified. The thing is, is that you never stopped being terrified because you're still doing stupid stuff, but you learn how to deal with it. You know, I think you learn how to operate within — or just in spite of being afraid or being scared, of being nervous, being anxious about something. You know, you just — you learn how to do it. I'm always scared of stuff when I walk out, you know, if I have a new show, if I'm investing in something now. You know what I mean? There's always like scary stuff and I'm like, dude, if this doesn't go right, I might be working at Chili's in a year. You know? Like it still happens.
Dan Pashman: See? It's interesting because I I'm sure somebody would hear that and be like, “Oh, come on. Like you, you you've reached a level of…” I don't want to deny, of course, like you have every right to feel, however you feel, and I'm sure that those feelings are real, but then I think it's also to the average person they would think, oh, but he hasn't Duff reached a level of success that like, yeah, the future is unknown and there's always risk, but that, you know, you're gonna find your way. And I think it's just interesting to hear you say that there are still things that you're very scared of.
Duff Goldman: I mean, I've almost gone bankrupt a couple times. You know, running a business is hard and there was a few times when I was close to bankruptcy and I was, you know, and just didn't know what to do. Didn't know what to do. And that can happen again, you know? I mean, it's much less likely I'd say today than it was 15 years ago, but it can still happen again. You know, it really could. I think one of the — one of the biggest lessons I got was when I left the French Laundry, there was a good few months of living on the couch, living off of my credit cards, and just not caring about much. And I got myself into some c-c-crazy debt, crazy credit card debt. And I worked my tail off. I worked six days a week. I lived in a little apartment and I just like paid off all that stuff because it's terrifying. Right? When you're getting letters from creditors. And that whole period scared the bejesus out of me. And so that fear has never left me. It's always there.
Dan Pashman: These days, as I said, Duff stars in several Food Network shows including Kids Baking Championship. He’s kinda known as the food TV host, who all the kids love, even though he’s usually the one in charge of telling the young contestants which one of them’s been eliminated. He and his wife have a one-year-old daughter now, and I wonder how his experience breaking bad news to kids will inform his parenting.
Dan Pashman: Is your wife gonna be like, well Duff you’re gonna tell her that she’s grounded. You know how to do it. You know?
Dan Pashman: You’re gonna tell her that there’s no dessert for a week.
Duff Goldman: I don't — man, I don’t know if I could do it. You know, I don't …
Dan Pashman: It'd be cool if you unveiled your punishments in the style of Kids Baking Championship eliminations.
Dan Pashman: Like very long dramatic pause —
Duff Goldman: That’s a great idea.
Dan Pashman: Maybe cut to commercial and then come back and then reveal what the punishment for the infraction will be.
Duff Goldman: And your punishment is … move those rocks from that side of the yard to the other side of the yard. Nooo!! Good luck bakers.
Dan Pashman: Cut to confessional. My dad's such a jerk.
Dan Pashman: So Duff is successful, he runs a business, he’s settled with his family. To an outsider, it might actually look like the guy who only ever wanted to have fun is all grown up. But he hasn’t totally surrendered to adulthood. He still plays music in a band called — bear with me — Foie Grock. (Although they’re thinking of changing it to Bread Zeppelin). He threw a Super Bowl party with a petting zoo. He actually kind of has a thing for petting zoos. He had one at his wedding, too. And speaking of that wedding — as you’d expect, he went all out when it came to his wedding cakes. And yes, that’s cakes, plural. He had three. The first one was a simple, traditional tiered cake. The second was an underwater scene, more like something you’d see at Charm City Cakes. And the third one …
Duff Goldman: … was actually made out of meat. The bottom tier was meatloaf. The next tier was meatballs. The next tier was shwarma and the top tier was scrapple. And then we iced the whole thing in mashed potatoes. We made a bunch of — right? Cause when you get, like — when you went mashed potatoes, you can actually pipe it out like buttercream.
Dan Pashman: Oh my god.
Duff Goldman: And then we made a bunch of roses out of bacon and like roasted them. So they like came out like — they were these like little crispy bacon roses all over the cake. And then the bride and groom on top were hotdogs. And we made their clothes out of like shave deli meat, so we got like mortadella, like all this stuff. Like made their clothes out of deli meat.
Dan Pashman: Oh my god.
Duff Goldman: And then next to it, we got a chocolate fountain and we filled it with like canned gravy.
Dan Pashman: I mean, I'm just going to say it. That sounds delicious.
Duff Goldman: It was amazing. So good.
Dan Pashman: That was Duff Goldman, the star of Buddy vs. Duff, Kids Baking Championship, and Duff’s Happy Fun Bake Time. He also recently published his first kids cookbook, Super Good Baking for Kids. And Duff will be showing his cooking skills for the first time on TV in an upcoming new show called Ace of Taste. That launches on Food Network April 24.
Dan Pashman: Next week on the show, we visit a pizzeria that’s almost as famous for its long lines as it is for its pizza. Does all that waiting make the pizza taste better once you finally get it? Or does a long line just mean one very cranky podcast host? We’ll find out. That’s next week.
Dan Pashman: While you’re waiting for that one, check out last week’s show about SPAM and why a canned meat that came from America feels so distinctly Filipino. Finally, please don’t forget to vote for us for a Webby Award! It’ll just take a minute. That link again, is sporkful.com/webbys. Thanks.