Ace of... Interior Design?

Recognize this guy? It is Duff from Charm City Cakes/Ace of Cakes!

Last week I went to a trade show for interiors in Baltimore. The keynote speaker for the day was Duff. Yeah.. I didn't really get how he was the keynote speaker for an interior design trade show. According to the show materials,

"It’s really not the icing on the cake that makes Duff Goldman’s creations the edible masterpieces they are. Rather, it’s the architecture and structural components that have given his cakes the panache to catapult his career as a chef and baker to a famous celebrity with a hit reality television show, Ace of Cakes featured on the Food Network. The show chronicles the day-to-day operations of his cake shop, Charm City Cakes, located in Baltimore, Md., and his multi-talented team of experienced painters, sculptors and architects.

Considered both audacious and creative, Duff has sketched, sculpted, molded, adapted, painted, pounded, built and baked his way to the top using his “Tools of the Trade” (power tools from Home Depot and electrical tape just to name a few). Similar to the design and architecture industry, his unique and edible creations require him to begin with a design concept, adapt the original sketches based on client needs, think on his feet and understand how the architectural design will impact the entire space (or cake). Moderated by Lou Ghitman, director of Interior Architecture at Design Collective, Inc., join in on this fun and delectable discussion that will be sure to entice your appetite for creativity."

Yeah... I think they were stretching it. Whatever, I love Duff! His laugh cracks me up and.. he plays hockey! The session with him was pretty casual- the other guy in the picture above just asked him questions about his past and a bit about the bakery. He also talked about managing staff, projects, etc. I enjoyed :)

It is my goal to one day have a cake made by Charm City Cakes, especially since they are so nearby! AHEM)

-started cooking at 14 in a bakery.. making bagels
-was arrested in high school (I think) for graffiti
-spent most of his growing up in Cape Cod
-started school at Boston College to play hockey (D1!)
-transferred down to UMBC (Maryland) to play hockey and studied something ridiculous like Asian Philosophy
-only went to college so that his parents would let him go to culinary school afterward
-went to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. He said it was like a "grad school" for chefs/cooks.. and he was the youngest one there. They accepted him w/o previous culinary schooling because he had been cooking since he was 14.
-worked at the French Laundry (apparently one of the best restaurants in the world) while at the CIA. He got the job by walking in a back door and asking if anyone needed help for free. He stayed for a year and a half, but left because everyone there hated their job and didn't have fun.
-moved to CO after the CIA and worked in a hotel restaurant/catering.
-opened his own bakery in Baltimore so that he could have time off to tour (band)... apparently only those who own the bakery get time off.
-was the guy his friends called over to weld cars and such.. his welding and wood working carried through to his cakes.
-lost his first competition because he broke the rules. He couldn't care less about the rules- he wants the cake to look like his concept.
-hires art school kids without baking/culinary experience
-gives his employees 2 months paid time off each year so that they can go on their band tour together. The first couple of weeks of time off he brings them someplace warm for vacation.
-gives his employees 10% of everything he makes outside of the bakery (books, Food Network, toys, etc)
-is just as awesome in person as on TV.

..he knows how to keep employees happy, eh?

The First-Year Wife  – (November 4, 2009 at 3:40 PM)  

That's so cool that you got to hear Duff speak! I love him too! J and I watch Ace of Cakes all the time and admire the amazing cakes they make.

He sounds like a fantastic boss! I wish I could work for him!

Justine  – (November 4, 2009 at 6:30 PM)  

I LOVE DUFF!! I am so jealous!

I totally wish I was artistic so I could work for him!!!

Anonymous –   – (November 4, 2009 at 8:02 PM)  

One more time - the minimum cost for anything out of that shop is ~$1200.00, otherwise you would have had one by now. Start entering contests !

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