Host Duff Goldman at Charm City Cakes with his arms folder and a smile on his face

The Evolution of Duff Goldman: From Ace of Cakes to Buddy vs. Duff

Duff Goldman became a household name with Ace of Cakes but soon, the success of the Food Network series inspired other cake shows and the landscape became sweetly saturated. Thankfully that was just beginning for this chef, who is also a bit of a rock star — he plays bass in the Elvis cover band Foie Grock, after all.

From emerging as the face of Charm City Cakes, to cookbooks, a handful of shows on Food Network Canada, and a very full personal life, it’s safe to say that Duff’s (dessert) plate is full. Let’s go back and see how it all began, shall we?

Watch Buddy vs. Duff Sunday at 9 PM ET/PT and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

The Name of the Game

 

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Jeffrey Adam Goldman was born in Detroit in 1974 before his family moved to Missouri. His nickname came from his older brother, Willie, who was unable to pronounce “Jeffrey.” Instead, “Duffy” became his new permanent nickname. Thank goodness. Not sure we could handle a Jeff and a Geof (Geoffrey Manthorne, Duff’s right hand man).

Easy as Cake

 

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Duff’s been working in kitchens since he was 14. His first job was at a bagel store at the mall and eventually he became a fry cook at McDonald’s. In college, he applied to work as a cook at the Charleston, one of Baltimore’s finest restaurants, but head chef Cindy Wolf told him he lacked experience. She did, however, offer him a position making cornbread and biscuits. That was the turning point in his career.

Fine Art

 

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Let’s not forget that Duff went to culinary school. Post-university (he has degrees in philosophy and history from the University of Maryland), Duff attended the Culinary Institute of America. It was there that he discovered his serious cake-making skills. He then worked at The French Laundry, run by renowned chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Thomas Keller. Under Keller’s leadership, Duff realized food and art could become one beautiful thing.

Business as Usual

 

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Duff first launched his cake business in 2000, out of his Mount Vernon, Virginia apartment. There, he would make one cake a week, but as time went by his confections were becoming more in demand. Two years later he opened Charm City Cakes — this time out of a studio in Baltimore. By 2003, Duff sold $130,000 worth of cakes, nearly three times what he sold in his first year.

Show Time

 

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Ace of Cakes was born in 2006. The show focused on the daily operations of Charm City Cakes as Duff and his equally fun and quirky staff went about their daily routines, constructing cakes using a variety of traditional and unconventional tools (like belt sanders, blowtorches and power saws). The show ran for 10 seasons over five years, coming to an end in 2011.

No Slowing Down

 

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Ace of Cakes may have ended but that didn’t mean things were less busy for Duff. On the contrary, he opened his second bakery, this time in Los Angeles, which has the same Baltimore charm just in sunnier conditions. And more famous people.

Memory Lane

 

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Some of the more memorable events Charm City Cakes has represented over the years were the premieres of Kung-Fu PandaHairspray and a couple of the Harry Potter movies, not to mention the times he was commissioned to make replicas of Radio City Music Hall, Wrigley Field, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Love and Marriage

 

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Duff and his then girlfriend Johnna Colbry dated for three years before they got married on Jan. 21, 2019. Naturally, there were three cakes at the ceremony: an underwater-themed creation that hung from the ceiling, a traditional white wedding cake for Johnna and a meat cake for Duff. That last concoction was memorable thanks to its bottom meatball tier, secondary meatloaf tier, lamb shawarma for the third tier, and scrapple on top. The frosting was mashed potatoes, bacon roses adorned the “icing,” and gravy cascaded from the chocolate fountain. Obviously.

Lights, Camera, so Much Action

 

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Ace of Cakes may have taken up a lot of Duff’s precious baking time, but after a few years’ hiatus, the baker and chef returned to the small screen in 2014 with Kids Baking Championship. He quickly followed that up with Holiday Baking ChampionshipSpring Baking Championship and Duff Takes the Cake.

Putting Pen to Paper

 

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Duff has always been willing to share the secrets to his success, which he does in cookbook form. The personality released his third title in Fall 2020, Super Good Baking For Kids. Previously he had also released  Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes and Duff Bakes: Think and Bake Like a Pro at Home.

Growing His Family

 

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Duff’s third book may have been inspired by the fact that he was about to become a dad himself. In February 2021 Duff and Johnna welcomed baby girl Josephine to the world. “We made a family! I have a whole little family!” he wrote on social media at the time. “I keep telling Josephine about all the wonderful things she’s gonna get to try like pizza and candy and swimming and concerts and riding a bike.”

Merching Out

 

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In addition to growing his business and his family, Duff has also gotten into the merchandising game. On his official site, he hocks plenty of branded t-shirts, beanies and baking accessories, allowing fans to bring a little of Duff into their own kitchens, too.

His Latest TV Adventure

 

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Duff’s latest competition, Buddy vs. Duff, is now in its third season. Duff took the crown in Season 1 thanks to his seriously charming yet complex cakes, but Buddy Valastro rebounded in a big way to take home the win in Season 2. This season, everything will be on the line for these legendary cake artists, who hope to prove once and for all that they are the reigning cake champ.

Watch Buddy vs. Duff Sunday at 9 PM ET/PT and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Posted by Denette Wilford. Last Updated on August 22 by Amber Dowling.

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