Vincent Lupo / Direction One
Duff Goldman from the Food Network's Ace of Cakes, a show that documents Duff's life as the chef and owner of Baltimore's Charm City Cakes, shows us his awesome side, dorky side and all out great side as one of the most kick-ass bakers the wedding cake industry has ever seen. —Cari Wolfert
On the show we mostly see cakes with very specific design ideas. How do you work with clients who come in and have no idea what they want for their wedding cake?
I usually try to narrow down their likes and dislikes. Ordering a cake is like buying a car—it can be overwhelming at first but you can really figure out what you like if you eliminate what you don't. Whittling down the basics usually allows me to get a feel for what the client is looking for. From there, I try to ask questions about the nature of their wedding and what the couple is like. This helps get a vision for what kind of cake they want...
How do you get your cakes to look great and taste great?
Flavor is just as important as decorating. Unfortunately, because they haven't invented smell-and-taste-o-vision yet, Ace of Cakes hasn't really shown a lot of people eating and enjoying our cakes. The decorating makes for better TV. However, we have a huge selection of flavors (tiramisu, chocolate mint, dulce de leche, blackberry sour cream...) and they are all really, really good. I also love it when customers ask us to try new flavors. We love a challenge.
What role do you think a groom's cake has at a wedding reception and what is your favorite groom's cake that you made?
Groom's cakes used to really be primarily a Southern tradition, a chocolate cake in honor of the groom. These days, they are so much more than that. Sorry if this is a generalization, but I think that they are a chance for the groom to have one piece of the wedding that it totally his, and not the bride's. My favorite groom's cakes are the ones that have to do with Star Wars. I'm fully owning up to my Star Wars dork obsession here.
The price of a cake can really add up. What are some easy ways brides on a budget can keep the cost of their cake down without sacrificing style?
First and foremost, get extra sheet cakes that are not displayed but cut up and served with your wedding cake. Your guests will never know that your gorgeous 3 tier cake will only feed 75 out of your 150 guests. Also, I think the days of giant towering 6-tier monstrosities are (thankfully) over. The size of your cake is not an indication of the awesomeness of your love. Something smaller but more personalized, more "you," is definitely the way to go.
What is it like creating cakes for celebrity movie premieres and other big events and how have famous people reacted to your designs?
I have been so unbelievably honored! We've done cakes for the premieres of Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda, Hairspray and the Broadway premiere of Cry-Baby. What really thrills me is that these folks want me! Meeting Jack Black was definitely a personal highlight for me. He was gracious and hilarious and exactly like I'd hoped he would be. Having Daniel Radcliffe tell me our Hogwarts cake was spot on was pretty much the best compliment I've ever been given. I was totally star-struck and giggling when I met him.
BONUS: Have you ever had a crazy fan moment? Tell us about it.
Oh boy, yes. We have people outside our building all the time taking pictures. It's really bizarre and hard for us to understand, because to us, we're just normal people. We've had people holding up signs and even peeking through our mail slot! That's just hard to get that kind of fandom. I appreciate it, don't get me wrong, but it's really surprising. We try to put it into perspective by thinking that if our favorite TV show was filming up the block, wouldn't we want to go see it? But it's still hard to wrap my head around.
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