‘Food Network’ Personality Embraces Charity, Grows His Brand

November 29, 2012 9:05 pm 0 comments

Duff Goldman. Photo: Courtesy Duff Goldman.

The grandchild of Holocaust victims, Duff Goldman became a brand name through hard work, creativity and a blowtorch.

Born in Michigan, Goldman was once in the Guinness Book of World Records for baking the world’s largest cupcake. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), he is the executive chef of the Baltimore-based Charm City Cakes, a shop featured in the Food Network reality television show “Ace of Cakes.”

Goldman’s bakery shop—which recently added three locations in Los Angeles—is unusual in that blowtorches, as well as power tools such as grinders and drills, help form the underlying supports of the shop’s unique edible creations.

According to Goldman’s instructor at CIA, pastry chef/team leader Robert Jorin, Goldman was more enthusiastic about his work than most students.

“He knew what he wanted to do when he came here and he always put a lot of effort into it,” Jorin told JNS.org. “He wrote in his first essay that his goal was to be on the cover of Pastry Art and Design. That set him apart from the rest.”

Amid his increasing fame, Goldman consistently gives back through tzedakah (charity). Among his charitable causes are police officers, firefighters, the military, teachers, the Make a Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and the Lower East Side Girls’ Club. These causes, he said in an interview, are just the tip of the iceberg.

“I’m a cook who won the lottery,” Goldman told JNS.org. “Seeing the effects this has had on everybody makes us want to give back. Every time we give it makes us want to give more.”

Goldman was reluctant to further describe his charitable efforts, citing the tzedakah principle of giving anonymously.

Cooking since he was 4 and working professionally since he was 14, Goldman’s unique approach comes, in part, from his artistic Jewish family. His great-grandmother “Mamo” came to the United States from Ukraine and became a baker and cook. Her daughter, Duff’s grandmother “Nana,” was a professional artist whose work includes painting, printmaking and silversmithing. Goldman’s mother Jackie is an artist who began in printmaking, created and taught ceramics in her own commercial studio, moved on to stained glass for more than 30 years, and is now working on clay, silver and gold creations.

“I was taught growing up that they can take everything away from you, but they can never take away your heart and your education,” Goldman said. “As long as you keep your brain and your heart, you can carry on.”

During his younger years in northern Virginia, Goldman studied art at Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC, and was a local graffiti artist. With his culinary degree and growing experience, he baked bread for Todd English’s DC-based Olives Restaurant under executive chef Steve Mannino. Inspired by the chefs he worked for, Goldman’s entrepreneurial sprit took him back to Baltimore in 2000, where he realized his dream and opened Charm City Cakes.

Goldman said word-of-mouth, the media, and even the health department all began to take an interest, and he soon found himself in a real bakery of his very own.

“It was small, but it got the job done,” Goldman said.

Goldman kept the health department happy, his press coverage increased, and a growing list of clients helped propel him into an even bigger location: an old church he retrofitted into a modern bakery.

“The important part that all these great chefs taught me is how to dig real far into yourself and how to do your absolute best,” Goldman said. “It’s about striving for excellence, making things as perfect as possible.”

As word about his unusual and daring cakes got out, Goldman hired staff with more artistic experience than the typical pastry chef, like painters, architects and sculptors. His team produces cakes that range from “Star Wars” characters and vehicles, to a replica of the Stanley Cup, to a working life-size motorcycle, a Hogwarts Castle for Warner Brothers and their premiere of “Harry Potter,” to thousands of more creations for everyone from the bar across the street to the NFL celebrating the Super Bowl.

In 2006 the Food Network tapped Goldman and his fellow baking artists to star in “Ace of Cakes.” After six years and 10 seasons, the show is popular not only in reruns, but also in more than 40 countries worldwide. In 2011, the show saw its United Kingdom premiere draw record numbers for Food Network’s latest overseas venture: Food Network UK.

In addition to his work on “Ace of Cakes,” Goldman also stars in the Food Network series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and has been featured in episodes of “Iron Chef America” and “Cupcake Wars.” He also guest-starred in both TV and film, including Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” Fox’s “King of the Hill,” Walt Disney Pictures’ “You Again,” and the indie film “Below the Beltway.”

“He was always innovative and the wild one when it came to ideas,” his teacher, Jorin, said. “He was not the quiet person in the class. In the kitchen he got things done without hesitation. His projects were always interesting and out-of-the-norm. This is what sets people apart who are going to be successful later on.”

The growth of Goldman’s brand isn’t finished just yet. In 2012, he opened Duff’s Cake Mix, a bakery in Hollywood where customers create their own cakes and he is collaborating with “Electus for Hungry,” a new food-centric channel debuting exclusively on YouTube.

But before he made all those artistic cakes, Goldman made a bunch of flops.

“You don’t learn anything by succeeding all the time,” Goldman said. “You’ve got to fall down, get hit and beat up. You’ve got to fail. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not advancing.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.