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Duff Goldman on food, music, & judging other cooks

Larry King NowMar 27 '17

Cake master Duff Goldman gives Larry an education in baking, discussing the craziest concoctions he’s pulled off and his almost accidental path to becoming a cake guy. Plus, Duff on the key to judging other cooks, and giving it all up for music.

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Larry has a sweet conversation with Duff Goldman, a chef, musician, entrepreneur,New York Timesbestselling author, and owner of Charm City Cakes, located in Baltimore and Los Angeles. Goldman, who rose to fame on the Food Network’s ‘Ace of Cakes’ show, currently stars in the Food Network’s ‘Spring Baking Championship’ and ‘Cake Masters.’ Larry begins with Duff’s name, asking what it means. Goldman says he has an older brother who pronounced his real name of “Jeffrey” as “Duffy,” and the moniker stuck.

Delving into Goldman’s childhood, Larry asks if it’s true that the chef got his start cooking bagels. Goldman talks about how he comes from a Jewish household that was big on food and art, and how he used to be a graffiti artist. Since spray paint was expensive and he didn’t want to steal it, a teenage Goldman got a job making bagel sandwiches at the mall. This fast introduction to food led to another job at a pizza place, which inspired him to attend culinary school, where he got into baking via making cornbread and biscuits at a nice restaurant. After culinary school, Goldman worked in various places and also pursued his musical ambitions, which led to him selling cakes out of his apartment and gaining this specialty.

To be a good baker, Goldman says you have to be present and understand cooking time and temperature. He believes anybody can learn to be a good baker, and that it’s both a science and an art. On the topic of baking, Larry asks for Goldman’s thoughts on the anti-sugar movement. Goldman talks about eating sweets in moderation, and how both no sugar and fake sugar leave a bad taste in the mouth. Talking about taste, Larry asks if it’s tough for Goldman to be a judge on a food show, since people can be hurt by criticism. Goldman believes the trick is to be kind as well as honest. Then Larry asks about Charm City Cakes, where Goldman sells custom cakes by appointment only. Goldman relates a story about making a life-sized elephant cake for a guy and squeezing a bottle of champagne in the butt. He talks a bit about pricing such a cake, but can’t reveal the price of the elephant cake.

Transitioning from baking to bands, Larry asks about Goldman’s band Foigrock, which Goldman formed with others in the restaurant industry. The band does covers and Goldman plays bass, which he compares to having salt in a dish—a listener or eater would notice the absence of the bass or salt, but would just notice the nice song or dish when the ingredients are done well. Larry asks if Goldman would give up his baking job if he had a worldwide band tour, and Goldman says yes, since he’s had a nice career.