The brothers are still super close: Willie, a Los Angeles television executive, co-produces Duff's show. "I think serendipity did the job in the end, but the beginning of my culinary career simply involved working my a-- off in a variety of jobs," he says. "I walked a fine line between the law and the needs of my creatively fertile mind," he says. He decorated his first cake on his living room coffee table.
Eventually, his mom enrolled him part-time at Corcoran College of Art Design in Washington, D. Duff opened his cake business in his Baltimore apartment after leaving a personal chef job.
LOS ANGELES — Duff Goldman is sitting in a corner of the semisecret Melrose Avenue location of his Charm City Cakes West bakery, checking the calendar on his i Phone.
On the September schedule are meetings with his agent, magazine publisher Conde Nast and craft store Michael’s; appearances and demos in Toronto, Buffalo, N. and Beverly Hills; then it’s back to New York to present a scholarship at the Culinary Institute of America.
"As hard as Willie tried to pronounce 'Jeffrey,' it kept coming out wrong," Duff says. Before he went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America and bake cakes for movie premieres and big-time events, Duff cooked at fast-food joints and greasy spoons in high school. In high school, Duff honed his artistic skills through graffiti — or "mural art," as he called it around his mom.
Duff was born Jeffrey Adam Goldman — his older brother, Willie, is responsible for his nickname, Duffy.
Shortly after college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, he attended schools such as Corcoran College of Art and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California.Before settling on a more family-friendly title for TV, the show's producers considered the names Bake It to the Limit; Charm City; and Doughboy. "Think back to how many weddings you attended where the wedding cake was beautiful but tasted like crap," Duff says."There are a few reasons for this, but the main problem is that whoever made the cake didn't make flavor and freshness a priority.He’s also in the middle of figuring out life after “Ace of Cakes.” After 10 seasons of the Food Network show that catapulted Goldman to chef-lebrity status but ended in February (to the chagrin of devoted fans), he moved to Los Angeles to open the West Coast version of his famed Baltimore cake shop and shot six episodes of his latest TV foray as host of the dessert program “Sugar High.” Shooting was two months of riding around on his Harley in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston and New Orleans, eating desserts and talking to pastry chefs.For Goldman, it’s a departure from the “docu-soap” that featured his bakery, its quirky staff and the sculptural, oddball-themed cakes that captured America — a pinball machine, a Blackhawk helicopter, a ’57 Chevy, a scene from “The Exorcist,” the cast of “Kung Fu Panda,” a bust of Marie Antoinette and the Millennium Falcon, rendered with butter cream, fondant and strategically placed Rice Krispies treats.