Food Network Obsessed

Duff Goldman on Rockstar Dreams & Chaotic Cake Competitions

Episode Summary

Duff Goldman shares how his nickname came to be and the creative forces that shape his larger-than-life cakes. He talks about the craft he is working on for his daughter, being a new father and the advice he would give to dads. Duff reveals the cover band he was in and tells a crazy story about playing with a certain Foo Fighters front-man. He shares the reason he decided to study history and philosophy in college and why, surprisingly, he didn’t learn to read properly until high school. Duff talks about why he decided to put down roots in Baltimore and the chaotic series of events that led to his show, Ace of Cakes. He shares what he feels made the show so good, his experiences lately judging and competing on festive Food Network shows and the challenges and rewards of working with kids on Kids Baking Championship.

Episode Notes

Duff Goldman shares how his nickname came to be and the creative forces that shape his larger-than-life cakes. He talks about the craft he is working on for his daughter, being a new father and the advice he would give to dads. Duff reveals the cover band he was in and tells a crazy story about playing with a certain Foo Fighters front-man. He shares the reason he decided to study history and philosophy in college and why, surprisingly, he didn’t learn to read properly until high school. Duff talks about why he decided to put down roots in Baltimore and the chaotic series of events that led to his show, Ace of Cakes. He shares what he feels made the show so good, his experiences lately judging and competing on festive Food Network shows and the challenges and rewards of working with kids on Kids Baking Championship.


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Episode Transcription

[MUSIC PLAYING] JAYMEE SIRE: Hello, Hello, and welcome to "Food Network Obsessed." The podcast where we dish on all things Food Network, with your favorite Food Network stars. I'm your host, Jaymee Sire. And today we have the "Ace Of Cakes" joining us to talk about his life as a new dad, and the path that led him to creating larger than life sweet creations.


He's a chef and artist known for his inventive approach to baking, the owner of Charm City Cakes. And you love watching him on "Kids Baking Championship," "Holiday Baking Championship," and "Buddy Vs Duff." It's Duff Goldman.




Duff, welcome to the podcast. I recently found out your given name is Jeffrey. So I have to start by asking how did the nickname come to be?


DUFF GOLDMAN: So, my older brother is 22 months older than me. And my parents brought me home from the hospital, and they're like, this is your baby brother, Jeffrey. And he couldn't really say it right, he kept saying Duffy.




DUFF GOLDMAN: So they were like, oh, that's cute, we'll call him Duffy. So they were calling me Duffy. And then I got to like, whatever, kindergarten, first grade, whatever. The first time somebody called the roll for school, like they call the roll, make sure everybody's there. And they were like, Jeffrey Goldman, and I was just like.




JAYMEE SIRE: Just silence.


DUFF GOLDMAN: And the teacher's like, that's you. I was like, my name's Duff, Duffy. It was Duffy, it's funny, if you hear any of my friends call me Duffy, they were from high school. And then when I got to college I dropped the y.








DUFF GOLDMAN: Duff's cooler. You know it was like, it was 93. There was that MTV VJ named Duff. And Duff sounds cooler--


JAYMEE SIRE: Oh, yeah.


DUFF GOLDMAN: --Than Duffy, you know?


JAYMEE SIRE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


DUFF GOLDMAN: And so I was like, yeah, I'll drop the y. I like Duff.


JAYMEE SIRE: Yeah, all right, so it was more adult.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, totally.


JAYMEE SIRE: But speaking of kids, you have one of your own now. So congratulations, first of all.


DUFF GOLDMAN: I do, thank you.


JAYMEE SIRE: Beautiful daughter, Josephine, born in January. And I've been kind of looking at your Instagram. So enchanted by the hand-painted alphabet blocks that you are currently making for her. All four sides are just beautiful, colorful. What inspired this project?


DUFF GOLDMAN: You know, I honestly don't know. I mean, I built her some other stuff. I built her this cool little baby gym. So I built this whole frame, and I made a bison and a shark, and a hedgehog. And I shaped all these different beads. And so I hung the animals, and it had beads on the strings, and she plays with them.


And it's like, I'm always thinking about what can I make her. You know, I'm very analog. I think that's the thing. And so you know, I want her to have really analog toys. Because I grew up with analog toys, right? I had LEGOs and rocks and stuff. You know what I mean?


JAYMEE SIRE: Rocks, dirt, sticks.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, totally. We live in the woods, you know? Like we live way out, our house is the last one on the street where it's paved. And then after our house, it's all dirt roads, and there's flocks of goats. And there's a donkey back there, there's turkeys. We live in like, we're pretty rural out here. And so, you know she's definitely growing up with lots of sticks and rocks and dirt.


JAYMEE SIRE: Yeah. It's good for them, right? You're a few months in now in the fatherhood role. Did you have any ideas of what it would be like before she was born?


DUFF GOLDMAN: We tried to be really sane about the process, right? Like OK, my wife is like, hey, I'm pregnant. I'm like, OK, awesome, let's figure this out. And so we read some stuff. My wife definitely read more than I did. But we both, we read some stuff, kind of got the basics down.


But then I think we both just sort of have an understanding of like, let's not go down these deep internet wormholes of every single thing that can go wrong. Because you see people just freak themselves out, right? You have a baby and it's like, oh my God, so many things could go wrong. And it's like, yeah, life, things can go wrong.


And they do and they will. And when they do, we figure it out. And I think that because we kind of had that attitude, like I didn't know what to expect. I think learning them as they come, I don't know, it just makes it very empirical.




DUFF GOLDMAN: And it's really enjoyable, because you're just like, oh, that's a new fluid. How do we deal with that? You know what I mean? What's that sound?


JAYMEE SIRE: I never heard that before.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Well, I've never heard that sound, is that a human? Is that a human making that sound? What's going on?


JAYMEE SIRE: Its your human.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Is it supposed to have a tail?




JAYMEE SIRE: You and your family were just on the cover of L.A. Parent magazine. What is the best advice that you would have for new parents out there?


DUFF GOLDMAN: For the dads, right, you got to be there and you got to show up, and you've got to do your part. Which is basically everything, you have to do. You got to do the dishes, keep the place clean, gas in the car, make sure the bills are paid, cook the food.


Like, just keep the list, make sure you got enough of everything. Do all the things. Because my wife, she's an incredible mom. It's so amazing to me. And she's so good at it. The baby cries, like I can put her on my shoulder and carry her like a sack of potatoes, and she'll stop crying.


JAYMEE SIRE: Oh my gosh.


DUFF GOLDMAN: So that's like the one thing I can do, is I can get her to stop crying, right? I can change the diapers, I could get her to stop crying. Other than that, I am useless. Like trying to get her to sleep. Because when she's with me, it's like, OK, this is playtime, right? Daddy's here and we're going to play.


And so if she's trying to go to sleep, if I try to get her to sleep, she is not going to bed. She's like, oh, it's dad, we're going to do something fun.


JAYMEE SIRE: It's fun time.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah, and so I can't get her to sleep. So middle of the night, it's 2:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning. We'll wake up and I'm like, I wish I could go down there for you and help. So I try to make sure that everything else is done, and so my wife just doesn't have to think of anything. So I think for dads, it's like, just be there.


JAYMEE SIRE: That's great advice. In addition to being a proud father and a cake artist, which of course we're going to dive a lot into. But you're also a graffiti artist, a metal sculptor, and a musician in an Elvis cover band. Which I think is amazing. What is your favorite song to cover?


DUFF GOLDMAN: I used to be in an Elvis cover band. I was in an Elvis tribute band in Baltimore. Baltimore is like, they love Elvis there, like everything kitschy. In Baltimore there's this thing, it's called "The night of 100 Elvis." Where literally thousands of Elvis impersonators come from all over the world and celebrate Elvis.


And it's in this massive thing, it's called the Lithuanian Hall. And it's in this weird part of Baltimore. It's this massive old building that was built in the 1800s. And they have this huge, huge, huge party for Elvis. And there was a troupe from Canada. It's 25 women over 60, who are all Elvis impersonators, who do a whole chorus line thing. Like it's just amazing.


JAYMEE SIRE: Sounds amazing, yeah.


DUFF GOLDMAN: It is. It's one of the coolest things in the world. Nobody knows about it, I don't know why. It's incredible. So, me and some friends started an Elvis band just for that. And so we called ourselves "Danger Ace." Because the singer is Rodney Henry, he was on "Next Food Network Star." And he's a big time, sort of indie, rockabilly rock star. If people are in to rockabilly, they know who he is.


And so he was the singer, guitar player. I played bass. We had a friend of ours playing drums. And we were three peas. And we just we played a bunch of Elvis songs. I think my favorite Elvis song to play was "Polk Salad Annie." It's so pure, it's so like Elvis. But it's like so young Elvis, but also old Elvis.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Like at the same time. Like you sort of, you're getting kind of the best of both, right? Like "Don't be Cruel" is like that's like a pretty classic Elvis song. And there's a lot of good fun classic songs. But yeah, "Polk Salad Annie," you'll love it.


JAYMEE SIRE: So you're not in the band anymore. But how often do you just like to play music and kind of exercise your creativity that way?


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, so actually the band I'm in now, it's all chefs. We're called Foigrock.




JAYMEE SIRE: That's amazing.


DUFF GOLDMAN: And our singer is Bruce Cowman, he was on Top Chef. And he has amazing, if anybody goes to Vegas, you need to go to SoulBelly BBQ. Because it is the best barbecue, it is some of the best barbecue I've ever had in my life.




DUFF GOLDMAN: I was raised on barbecue. And I'm not saying this because Bruce is my friend. If he made bad food, I would definitely tell everybody, yeah, yeah, Bruce is a great guy but his food sucks. No, like I'm telling you, this barbecue is amazing. He makes a pastrami beef rib.




DUFF GOLDMAN: It is unbelievably delicious. It's so good. His burnt ends are like these big chunks, and they're really super crispy on the outside and really soft on the inside. And just, oh, man. Yeah, they're great.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, well that's something.


DUFF GOLDMAN: So he's the singer. My sous Chef, Jeff, is one of the guitar players. Oh, we got this other guy named Jesse, who's another guitar player. And then our drummer is this guy, Fran. He owns an Irish pub here in LA. But he's an amazing drummer, really, really good. And so we do 70s, 80s, 90s songs. Like we play "Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin, "Burning Down The House" by Talking Heads.


JAYMEE SIRE: Now are you guys just playing for fun, for each other? Or are people hiring you for their wedding or something like that?


DUFF GOLDMAN: It started, we were just doing it for fun, we're just guys that played music. And then since Bruce and I are just sort of both pretty well known, we would do charity events all the time. After a while, like I love to cook, after a while you get kind of tired of standing behind a table and just handing people slices of cake and taking pictures, right?


It's just sort of like, do you know what I mean? It gets repetitive. So what we did was when we got invited to things, we were like, hey, instead of me cooking, can I bring my band, and then we'll just play. And they were like, yeah, that'd be amazing.


So now we do all these charity events where we just show up and play. And we don't have to cook, and it's super fun, we get to hang out.


JAYMEE SIRE: That is so fun.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's super fun. Dave Grohl was having a fundraiser, and he was like-- And Dave Grohl is an amazing cook by the way.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah, he makes incredible barbecue, too. So he was throwing this big food event, and had a bunch of bands come and play. And we played, and we got to play that song "Fortunate Son" with Dave.


JAYMEE SIRE: With Dave Grohl.


DUFF GOLDMAN: It was the coolest thing that's ever happened.


JAYMEE SIRE: Does someone have video of that or something?


DUFF GOLDMAN: Oh, yeah, there's a lot of video of it, yeah. It was so cool. And I felt terrible because I'm the bass player, and I kept messing up. Because the whole time I was like, Oh my God, its Dave Grohl. Oh my God, oh no, that's a wrong note. Oh my God, its Dave Grohl. Like I kept screwing up because I was so excited, because we were playing with Dave Grohl.


JAYMEE SIRE: I mean, no one could really blame you at that point, right?


DUFF GOLDMAN: You know, it was so loud, so fast, and so fun, nobody noticed. Except for the drummer, he noticed. He kept giving me funny looks. And I was like, sorry, man.


JAYMEE SIRE: Let's take it back a little bit. I mean, you attended college, and have you have a degree in history and philosophy. Which I mean, just adds to this enigma that is Duff Goldman. What compelled you to choose that path at that time?


DUFF GOLDMAN: I knew I wanted to be a chef, like before my freshman year in college. And so when I got to college, I was like, look, what could I learn, like what can I study while I'm here that would help me to become a better chef. And I was like, not much really. Do you know what I mean? Like it turned out like. You know, what I should have done was I should have taken a lot of business courses and a lot of accounting courses.




DUFF GOLDMAN: And things like that. Because I know nothing about business. You know, I built this whole thing. I built it because I've hired people that know how to run a business, because I am terrible at it.


JAYMEE SIRE: I mean, that's a smart businessman right there.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's like, look, you know what, I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to run a business, I need to find someone to do it. So I got some really incredible people. And we got a great team, we've all been working together for a long time.


So I didn't take any business courses. So I was like, look, I'm in college and I want to play sports, and I want to have fun, and I want to do my thing. But I want to like, what I want to get out of my college education was not so much learn facts, figures, or things like that. But I kind of wanted to learn how to learn.


Because high school, high school's high school, right? It's like you're in high school, you don't know what's going on, you're a crazy person. So I wanted to sort of figure out, all right, how do I sort of teach myself how to think. And so with history and philosophy, I actually didn't learn how to read, like read like an adult, until I was a sophomore in high school.




DUFF GOLDMAN: And because I learned how to read at such a late age, I love to read, I read a lot. I read two, sometimes three books a week.




DUFF GOLDMAN: I really read a lot of books. So I think because I learned how to read, I figured history and philosophy were both places where you do a lot of reading. And I could keep up with it.


And I think that especially with philosophy, that's really where you learn how to think, right? How to learn how to be critical, you learn how to sort of evaluate yourself, how to evaluate the world, how to evaluate arguments. You know what I mean?


And it just sort of gives you, I don't know, like a little bit more of like a roadmap as opposed to a compass. You know what I mean? Like it gives you a little bit more of just a vernacular and a vocabulary that you can use to help you figure out the world.


Because I mean, at the end of the day, it's funny, being a parent now. When you were kids, you sort of think like, man, like there's something that happens one day or I will become like my parents. And I will have it all figured out, and I will understand the world and how it works. And I will know what to do in certain situations.


As a kid, you're like everything's confusing. You know what I mean? You're just figuring everything out. And you're like, there's something that happens between where I am now and my parents, where I will figure everything out. And then you get older and you realize that is 100% not true. You never figure it out. And now that I'm a dad, I'm like you just figure it out as you go, every day. You know what I mean?


And I think that we're scared of that. We sort of want every child must know where they're going to go to college by the time they're in third grade. And I'm like, no, you don't, we just figure it out as we go. And so that's why I thought that history and philosophy would be really good for me. Just like history, just studying the foibles of humans. And philosophy just understand how to kind of think about it.


JAYMEE SIRE: Ultimately, you did go to culinary school, and obviously went on to open the famed, Charm City Cakes in Baltimore where you attended college. So what was it about Baltimore? I mean, you kind of touched on it a little bit, that kind of made you want to stay there, plant roots, start a business at that time back then.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, and the thing is I didn't grow up in Baltimore, I grew up in Massachusetts. So I went to culinary school in California. I was only in culinary school for seven months. It was a certificate program. I don't have a two year or a four year degree from the CIA. I have a certificate in Baking and Pastry.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Because I had just graduated college, and I was like I'm not going to another four years. I'm trying to work.


JAYMEE SIRE: You put in your time.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah, my first job I was 14.5. So I was kind of going all over the country, I was working a bunch of different places, Was in DC and Colorado, and South Carolina, Seattle, went overseas a little bit for this guy.


When you're traveling around like that, you meet a lot of other people that are also sort of nomads. And whenever anybody asked me where I was from, I always said Baltimore. When I was in Colorado, I was in Vail. And Vail is like a resort town. And nobody's from there.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Right? Because if you're from there, you're on the US Ski team or something. Like nobody's from there. Everybody that-- you're in a big resort, it's all seasonal, right? People come from all over the place. And so on your name tag, it says your name and then where you're from. So it's like, oh, you're from Oklahoma. You're from Tokyo. You're from Spain. Like you know what I mean?




DUFF GOLDMAN: When I was like filling out my paperwork, I put Duff, Baltimore, Maryland. And I was like, huh, that's so strange that Baltimore just sort of became my new home. And it was also where all of my friends from college were. And everybody that I'd played music with, as a musician all the way back in college.


And I was like you know, I love cooking and I'm doing it, and this is great. But I want to be a rock star. I want to be in a huge rock band that tours the world. And that's what I want to do. And so I moved back to Baltimore, because that's where all my friends who were musicians were. And I was like i know some great musicians there. Like let's do this thing.


And so I was like, all right, how do I pay the rent? So when you're working in restaurants and hotels, you're working while everybody else is partying. But if you're trying to be in a touring rock band, it just doesn't work. And those two things can't exist in the same universe.




DUFF GOLDMAN: So I started selling cakes out of my apartment to make enough money to pay my rent, until my big check from the record company.


JAYMEE SIRE: Yeah, until you hit it big.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah.


JAYMEE SIRE: Your big break.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, well, still waiting. Man, one of these days I'm telling you, I'm going to be on Sony Records, and I'm going to be touring in Tokyo. It's going to be great.


JAYMEE SIRE: There's still time. There's still time.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, everybody likes a 46-year-old fat rock star.




JAYMEE SIRE: Duff chats with us about "Ace Of Cakes" and later all of the holiday programming he's part of this season on Food Network. Coming up next.


So you're selling cakes out of your apartment. And then eventually get approached. You open your shop, you get approached for "Ace Of Cakes." So do you remember kind of what was going through your mind back then?


DUFF GOLDMAN: I did a cake decorating competition, that was not televised. It was for "Bon Appetit." I came in second to last. So here's the thing, I never competed in cakes before. I competed in other things like ice. You know, I was an ice carver when I was in Colorado. I did some competitions, but never with a--


JAYMEE SIRE: Of course you were.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's fun, man. We just did "Buddy Vs Duff" a holiday special. And I actually carve ice on that one.




DUFF GOLDMAN: It was red. I hadn't done it like since Colorado. It was super fun. Anyway, so I went, I did this thing. And the thing was I made a really cool cake, but I broke every single rule. And I set my table on fire with an arc welder.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, that's impressive.


DUFF GOLDMAN: And they were like, first of all, why did you bring an arc welder to a cake decorating competition? I'm like, why didn't you, right? You're jealous of my arc welder. So I was just, I was a nightmare. I was an absolute mess, I had no idea what I was doing. I was just making this really crazy thing.


And I made this cool, it was like a big peach tree. It was like a metal tree, and it had all these cakes were hanging off of the branches like peaches. And so some of the judges were also competitors on Food Network. Those guys went back to Food Network, they're like hey, you should check this dude out. He's hilarious and he's not a very good cake decorator, but hes really funny.


And so they were like, hey, do you want to compete on the thing? They called me up. And I asked Jeff, and I was like, hey Jeff, do you want to go like compete on Food Network? And he was just like, sure, why not. Like it wasn't really something that neither of us were trying to do. We were just trying to make enough money to be in bands.


So we went, we competed. And we did OK. We actually made a really cool cake. Our first one was the Halloween, it was a Halloween challenge, and we made this like Spooky Haunted house cake. I moved out of my apartment and rented like this really crappy like catering kitchen. Because the health department had showed up and been like, hey, you can't bake cakes in your apartment. You have to get like a real store.




DUFF GOLDMAN: So I did. So I got a real, I rented this space. But the thing was, I still didn't have a health department certification. So we had this really crappy kitchen. It didn't have heat. And so I had this warehouse heater. It's just a thing that you hook up to a propane tank and turn it on, and that would heat the space.


And the space was so crappy. There's like pipes and stuff just sticking out of the floor. Two days before the competition, I trip on a pipe. I land on the heater and I burned all the skin off of my right hand.


JAYMEE SIRE: Oh my god.


DUFF GOLDMAN: So we show up there, I got this huge bandage on. And I'm like rolling stuff like this. Like one hand down, one hand up. I'm using the back of my hand to roll fondant. Like it was just a nightmare. So we came in like third place, which wasn't bad.


JAYMEE SIRE: Not last, at least. Not second last.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Everybody was a little bit older and everybody's pretty serious and everything. Like Jeff and I are two guys in rock bands, right? We weren't taking it seriously. But we also were like this is fun, right? We're having a good time. And so we had a good time, we goofed around.


They did all this B-roll of everybody before the competition. Everybody was in their hotel rooms practicing and doing their lists of all like, OK, at 11:05, I'll have this, 11:10, I'll have this. And so they were like going to all the different teams and showing what they were doing. Because every team got a camera guy and a producer that just followed them around for the day before the competition.


Jeff and I went Skeet shooting. The producer was like can we film you Skeet shooting. We're like, yeah, sure, why not. And so we were out there just shooting guns. When the episode aired, they played it as they're like showing all the people being all serious, and then they get to us. We're like pull, just shooting guns and laughing. And they're just like, yeah, these guys are, they're different than everybody else.


And so they liked it. And so they asked us to come back and do another one. And so we did a few more. And at one point I asked him, I was like, you guys like, we never win, why do you keep asking us to do this? We're not very good. We were OK, but we weren't as good as some of the people we're competing against.


And they were just like, oh, it's fine, you guys are funny, people like watching. I was like, OK, that's cool. They wanted to get some B-roll of my bakery to use in the episode. And so they sent a crew to Baltimore to film me and Jeff. And they got there and they saw it wasn't just me and Jeff.


Like everybody that worked for me was either like a dude in a rock band with tattoos or a weirdo hipster artist. Because I hired all these kids from the art school in Baltimore, really good art school. And they're all like blue hair and tattoos and you know what I mean? They're weird artists.


And so like when they got there, they were just like, there's like 11 of you, and everybody's a character. They were just like, this is crazy. So they were like, we should film a show in here. And it was funny because I asked everybody back then, like everybody was just like tragically hip. And they were like, a reality show?


JAYMEE SIRE: Tragically hip.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Ewe. And I was like, I don't know, man, I don't know. So everybody was a little up in the air about it. Eventually we all, everybody was like, you know what, let's do it, it could be really fun. And it's a fun group of people. So yeah, let's try it out. And so we did it. And I think one of the things that was so wonderful about "Ace Of Cakes" was that nobody really cared that they were being filmed. And I think that's what made it really good.




DUFF GOLDMAN: It was a very honest.


JAYMEE SIRE: It was real, it was an actual reality.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah.


JAYMEE SIRE: Not like a scripted reality show.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah, nobody was trying to, oh, the cake fell on the floor, what do we do? And like, oh, the bride's yelling, what do we do? It wasn't produced at all. It was just like they got what they got. And so it was actually really fun. But yeah, that's kind of how it started, was that they were just like, oh, there's a whole group of weird people in Baltimore that have this castle.


So the bakery itself is a Lutheran Church. It was built in the 1890s. And I mean it's amazing. It's a beautiful building. And in the basement I built a studio for my band to practice in. It's like super creepy down there, right? The building was built in 1890. And so we had a paranormal investigator come and check the building out. And this lady she went to City Hall and found the records from the building, and the original like architectural drawings and stuff.


And it turns out in the band room there was like a weird slot in the floor that went the whole length of the room into the sub basement where the sump pump was. And so she brought the thing and she was showing us the plans. And she was like, the room where your band practices was the mortuary of this church. That's where all the dead bodies were.




DUFF GOLDMAN: In that channel in the floor, was when they hosed the place down, all the blood and stuff would go into the sump pump.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, its crazy, this place is nuts. It's a cool building, it's cool, but yeah, creepy. But so I think that it was just like it was such an interesting group of people, interesting building. We were doing something interesting in an interesting place that not a lot of people heard of, you know really been exposed to. Baltimore is one of the coolest cities in the world. And I've been to a lot of the cities all over the world. Baltimore is awesome.




DUFF GOLDMAN: It really is.


JAYMEE SIRE: Well, whatever producers saw that opportunity was very smart, because it obviously went on for 10 seasons. And now you are clearly a mainstay on Food Network. We have to talk about some of your upcoming and current programming that everybody's excited about. Obviously "Holiday Baking Championship." You're a judge alongside Nancy Fuller and Carla Hall. I can imagine you guys have zero fun on that show. What does a typical filming day look like?


DUFF GOLDMAN: I mean, I'm telling you, we have such a good time on that show. I think one of the reasons why that show resonates so well with people is that we're very real. We have a great relationship with each other. Everybody is very comfortable making fun of each other, talking smack, just being silly, being goofy. Like we genuinely enjoy each other's company.


And when the cameras aren't on, it doesn't stop. From the time we get there in the morning, in the makeup room, it's already going. It's just what you're seeing on TV is just a continuation of what we talk about all day long. So it's really, it's super, super fun.


JAYMEE SIRE: How does a show like that compare to "Buddy Vs Duff?" And obviously you guys have "Buddy Vs Duff Holiday" coming up as well. So clearly they're both holiday themed. But completely different format, different asks, different roles for you.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah. Well, one of them I'm judging, and the other one I'm competing.


JAYMEE SIRE: Yeah, of course.


DUFF GOLDMAN: And judging Duff is a very different person than competing Duff.


JAYMEE SIRE: What is the main difference?


DUFF GOLDMAN: People that work with judging Duff like him. People that work with competing Duff usually don't ever want to work with him ever again.


JAYMEE SIRE: Ah, that's not true.


DUFF GOLDMAN: No, I'm not that bad. I'm not that bad. But I get a little grumpy, I get a little grumpy. When you're doing the cakes that we're doing, the volume, the size, the scope, and within the time that we're given. There are not a lot of people in the world that can be doing what we're doing in there. When you see the cakes that we're creating, and we are literally creating those over the course of two days.


JAYMEE SIRE: That's insane.


DUFF GOLDMAN: These builds that are just wild. I mean, I think the cool thing about it is that there's nobody else out there. I mean. hopefully soon there will be. And that's one of the cool things about having been on Food Network for so long, doing what I do, and seeing it evolve from when I started to now.


And seeing what other people are capable of now. And seeing where like one of my first inspirations was Jacques Torres had made a cake for a room in the Sackler gallery in DC that looked-- the whole room was imported from England. So they took the walls, the wallpaper, the furniture, the windows, everything. They took it from this mansion in England and put it inside the Sackler gallery. Or the freer, it was a freer gallery in DC and the Smithsonian.


And to celebrate the opening of this thing, Jacques Torres had made this amazing cake. I saw it in a National Geographic magazine. And the cool thing was at one of those Food Network challenges I saw Jacques Torres. And I ran up to him and I was like, listen man, you don't know who I am, but I'm a real fan, you have inspired me.


And I was telling him the story about how I saw this cake in the National Geographic. To see sort of where it was and what I did with it. And now seeing what other people that are out there what they're sort of-- the state of cake decorating is crazy. But seeing what the spin offs that they're taking it in, directions that other people are taking it in.


It's so cool seeing what people do with cake decorating, and seeing where people have kind of taken things to such extremes. It just makes me so proud.


JAYMEE SIRE: You're inspiring this new generation of kid bakers, as well. And of course, we get to see you as the host and Judge on "Kids Baking Championship," in addition to all of your other Food Network duties. Which is a special show in and of itself. And I know you guys have a special coming up. So what can we expect on that upcoming programming?


DUFF GOLDMAN: Getting to see kids that we had worked with before, that maybe they went home and you just didn't want them to go home. But it was their time, you know? And you're like, man, I'd really like to see what else that kid has. Bringing them back and getting to see them again, it's always really fun.


You develop a special relationship with every single kid. Like you really do develop a relationship. And so like being able when the kids come back and you fall right into your same like little inside jokes that only you and that kid have, and all Those little things that you do. It's just super fun to kind of see how they mature.


And now that some of the kids from some of the earlier seasons are like freshmen and sophomores in college. And now having them coming back and guest judging is really fun.


JAYMEE SIRE: That's so cool.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, because like you knew this kid when she was like nine years old. She comes back and she's like 16, and you're like, whoa, you're like a whole different person. It's amazing. It's really cool.


JAYMEE SIRE: Are a lot of them still baking?


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah. Matthew from I think it was season one or season two. He is a huge TikTok Baker star.


JAYMEE SIRE: Really? That makes sense.


DUFF GOLDMAN: He's got millions of followers. Yeah, it's amazing.


JAYMEE SIRE: I mean, what is that like to know that you kind of inspired that in a way?


DUFF GOLDMAN: I love it. There was actually, the two of us, we both got hired by Nabisco, or whoever it was, to do a thing. And I was like working with him. And it was so cool. I was like, this is incredible that when I met you, you were 10 years old, and you made hot dog flavored ice cream.


It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever tasted. And like now here we are going back and forth. It was just, it was amazing. It was really, really cool. So like that too, it's just lovely.


JAYMEE SIRE: That's awesome. Well, we don't want to keep you too long. So we are going to finish up with a little rapid fire round. And then we have one final question for you before we let you go. So, rapid fire questions. What music is normally playing at the shop?


DUFF GOLDMAN: There is so much music out there. It just depends, it depends on--


JAYMEE SIRE: Your mood, the day, the season


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, like if it's late on a Friday night and you're trying to get all the wedding cakes done, that music is going to be totally different, right? I don't know. If It's early in the week and everybody's just kind of starting out, and kind of thinking a lot about what they're going to be doing that week. It'll be like something a little more chill. Maybe a little bit more, I don't know, maybe some instrumental stuff so people are really just kind of like just thinking about.


So we'd be listening to like "Explosions in the sky," or this band Tortoise is a bakery favorite. Like Do Make Say Think, they're really good band. Or Sigur Ros, the Icelandic band that Bjork described as what glaciers sound like if they could sing. Yeah, you know, bands like that. She's so weird.


And then if it's like late on a Friday night, we're probably listening to Baltimore club. You know it was always a favorite. So like there's a style of music called Baltimore club. Which if everybody out there, if you want to really just get moving and shaking, go find the song, "Dance my pain away." So just go to your whatever music streaming service you're using, type in "Dance my pain away."




DUFF GOLDMAN: And play that song. And you are just going to feel amazing.


JAYMEE SIRE: All right, I love that. And I love that answer. I'm just dying laughing inside because that is the longest rapid fire answer that we've ever had.




But it's very on brand. So I think it tracks, it's perfect.


DUFF GOLDMAN: I'm loquacious.


JAYMEE SIRE: Really? All right, favorite cake you've ever made?


DUFF GOLDMAN: We made a life sized working r2-d2 for George Lucas. And we got to bring it, we got to make it at the Skywalker Ranch. We spent a week there making a cake and hanging out at Skywalker Ranch.




DUFF GOLDMAN: It was the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, well next podcast we're going to dive into that one more extensively. Go-to Baltimore lunch spot?


DUFF GOLDMAN: Oh, the Baltimore Museum of Art has a really good restaurant in it called Gertrude's. And the chef there is this guy named John Shields, he is the ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay. Like he's the guy. And his fried oysters, the dish is called the Oyster Judy. And it's like a fried oyster sandwich. His fried oysters are so good.


JAYMEE SIRE: All right, go-to comfort food?


DUFF GOLDMAN: Go-to comfort food is usually like nuts, like pistachios.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Just sort of like. You know what I mean?


JAYMEE SIRE: Shovel them in.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


JAYMEE SIRE: All right, favorite cake flavor?


DUFF GOLDMAN: I hope you respect me.




DUFF GOLDMAN: Oh my favorite cake flavor is yellow boxed cake mix with the canned chocolate frosting. But it has to be baked like not in a cake pan, it has to be baked in a glass, like a casserole dish. And it has to have little nonpareils on the top. Like the birthday cake that your mom made when it was your birthday in elementary school, and you had to bring a cake to school.


JAYMEE SIRE: That's the one.


DUFF GOLDMAN: And then everybody would get a slice of cake on your birthday. It was always yellow cake, chocolate frosting, with nonpareils, baked in a casserole dish. And just it's one of my favorite things in the world.


JAYMEE SIRE: That's so funny. That brings back a lot of memories, for sure. All right, well maybe that'll be the final part of this last question. And that is what is on the menu for your perfect food day? So what are you eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner and then dessert.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Let's see. For breakfast it's going to be hollow french toast with fried egg sandwiches. My fried egg sandwich is Wonder Bread, lightly toasted. And then mayonnaise, hot sauce, and a hard fried egg. So you take the egg and you crack it and you fry it in a hot pan. And you fry it until it is like crispy.


JAYMEE SIRE: So no runny yolk?


DUFF GOLDMAN: No, no, it is crispy. Like all the edges are like super, super crispy. That is my egg sandwich. And it is amazing.




So that's breakfast.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, that's breakfast.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Lunch, clam chowder, real New England clam chowder. But thick, I make my chowder thick like runny mashed potatoes, like thick. I like very, very, very thick Chowder.


JAYMEE SIRE: You want the spoon to stand up in yours.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Yes, yeah, I like it. It's like when you can almost get all of it out of the bowl at once. It's like super thick. Fried clams, with the bellies on, real. Not like clam strips. A stuffed Quahog which is an actual another kind of clam.


JAYMEE SIRE: It is another clam, yes.


DUFF GOLDMAN: So a Quahog is a big giant clam. And you rake for them. So when you go fishing for Quahog, which I've done several times. You get a rake and you go into the water until it's like up to your chest. And you sit there with a rake and you rake the sand. And then you hear a clunk, and you've got to dive down and get the Quahog. That's how you get them.


But a stuffed Quahog is you get these huge clams, and you open them up, you scoop out to meat. You chop it up, and toss it with cornbread and Tasso ham, and a little bit of celery, and tons of butter. And you make a stuffing with it. And you put it back in the shell, cover it in breadcrumbs and stick it in the oven. And you roast it until it's like super crispy on top, and like buttery and a little cheesy


Oh, man. I think about clams at least once a day. I'm serious, I do. Like at some point every single day, clams pop into my head.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK. Clams three ways.


DUFF GOLDMAN: It's all clam, all clam lunch. Maybe a lobster roll just to break up the monotony.


JAYMEE SIRE: Yeah, just for good measure.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Oh yeah, and that would have to be all served with a fountain Coke in one of those yellowy clear plastics with the texture on the outside, with crushed ice. OK, that's lunch. And then dinner, my mom's brisket. Because it's just the best one ever made. My mom's matzah ball soup and her oyster stuffing. She makes this, it's a jell-o mold, right? But hear me out.




DUFF GOLDMAN: So she makes this cherry jell-o, and she makes it with Port wine, right? Like a really good Port. Then she gets sour cherries and she stuffs them with toasted walnuts.




DUFF GOLDMAN: And then pours the jell-o, and then suspends all the cherries stuffed with walnuts in the jell-o. And then it solidifies, so you basically have this jell-o. Oh, and she does it in a-- she has this one mold, it's a copper salmon. And she uses this mold for her salmon mousse. Which is also--


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, that's also on the menu.


DUFF GOLDMAN: But she uses the same mold for the jell-o mold.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, so you're going to have to get her a second one for this.




JAYMEE SIRE: For this dinner.


DUFF GOLDMAN: So the jell-o mold is shaped like a salmon.


JAYMEE SIRE: It's brilliant.


DUFF GOLDMAN: It's really funny. Yeah, it's really good. And it's like you get the slices are so good, just slightly alcoholic, not too bad. And like the cherries are mush. And then the walnuts are roasted, so they're really like crunchy. It's amazing.




DUFF GOLDMAN: It's a jell-o bowl, but it's amazing, I promise.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK, all right, so that's dessert? All right.


DUFF GOLDMAN: Then at 2:00 in the morning, it would be pizza that's in the box that has been sitting there since that day, right?




DUFF GOLDMAN: If we went out for pizza at lunch and then brought pizza home, and sat in on the counter, didn't even put it in the fridge. And it's out there all day. At 2:00 in the morning, we would eat that pizza.


JAYMEE SIRE: OK. Do you warm it up or are you just straight from the box?






DUFF GOLDMAN: Straight from the box.


JAYMEE SIRE: All right, and that is Duff Goldman's perfect food day.




That was awesome. Thank you so much. This has been an absolute blast. I've been grinning from ear to ear the entire time. So thank you for the stories. We look forward to all of the fun holiday programming coming up on Food Network.




Wow, a food day that started with Wonder Bread and ended with old pizza. That is not what I was expecting from Duff Goldman, but I loved it just the same. You can catch more of Duff on "Holiday Baking Championship," Mondays at 8:00/7:00 Central on Food Network, and streaming on Discovery Plus.


On the special, "Kids Baking Championship, Light Up The Holidays," premiering on Sunday, November 21 at 8:00/7:00 Central on Food Network. And also on "Buddy Vs Duff Holiday," premiering Sunday, November 28 at 8:00/7:00 Central on Food Network, and streaming on Discovery Plus.


Thanks so much for listening. And make sure to follow us wherever you listen to podcasts, so you don't miss a thing. And if you enjoyed today's episode, please rate and review. We love it when you do that. That's all for now. We'll catch you foodies next Friday.