Some might call Duff Goldman the "Ace of Cakes" but around these parts when it comes to this baker extraordinaire, we like to think of him more so as the "ace of cool." Throwing his much needed sleep out the window, on January 29th (at 10:30PM ET/7:30PM PT) Goldman will be pulling an all-nighter on his new Food Network show "Duff Till Dawn." Competition shows are all the rage these days and this show is no exception as it pits two teams of cake decorators against each other to create the ultimate one of a kind over-the-top cake in order to win the "golden whisk." Featuring a cast of rotating judges, Duff Till Dawn promises challenges and twists that will keep you enthralled from dusk to…well, you get the idea.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Who came up with all of the challenge themes for Duff Till Dawn?
Duff Goldman: That was me and our supervisor/producer. This is actually the first show I've ever produced so it's a new venture for me. I really wanted to be a producer on it because I've competed in so many competitions from ice carving to chocolate sculptures and cakes and I know what works and what doesn't work for contestants. What I've seen with some of the shows that we see on TV, people who don't really understand how cake decorating works treat it like a baking competition and they're very different. Cake decorating is a whole other party so to use the types of challenges that people use in baking challenges, well, it just doesn't work. We really came up with rules and a format that is as loose and open as possible because we really want people to shine. The whole point of the show is to show off how incredible these people are. These are people who work on texture and flavor in a medium that really doesn't want to do what you tell it to do. In coming up with the challenges, we are really giving people the chance to show off what they are best at.
Are any of the competitors so unbelievable that you were like, damn! I need to hire you!
[Laughs.] Ummm all of them! Actually some of them are so great I was like, will you hire me? They were doing stuff that I've never seen before and it's impressive!
That's so cool because I'm sure these people have you on a pedestal and you were actually learning from them.
Oh yeah! Are you kidding? [Laughs.] I was taking notes and pictures!
Seeing as how this show is done after hours, how much sleep did you get during the taping of the show?
None! The thing is, we close the bakery down and then we started the competition when the sun comes up. And we are open like, three hours later! It was rough but it was also really fun because we had to put the shop back and protect all of the work that we were doing in the shop. I didn't want to be working on a cake for a client and then have one of the competitors yank a piece of it because they needed it. You gotta be careful!
I know that you have rotating judges and I'd ask who the best was but I'm going to go ahead and assume it was Kevin Smith. I mean, how crazy amazing is he?
Kevin Smith is so funny! He's so cool and it was like, I couldn't do my job because he was making me laugh the entire time. I've watched many hours of Kevin doing Q&A's and I've really patterned the way I talk after him because I love how engaging and off the cuff he is. The guy can literally talk for hours because he is so smart. Watching him in this setting was insane because he walked in having no idea what was going on and grasped it and was so enthusiastic. Watching him really reinforced how great this show is going to be. I mean, for Kevin to be watching it and then for me to watch Kevin get sucked into how incredible it was, I just know it's going to work for everybody else.
He's the best. I love that! You're also getting your multitask on by hosting "Kids Baking Championship" with Valerie Bertinelli. Do you think that this younger generation of kids are inspired by Food Network?
Oh yeah! These kids are doing things that I wasn't able to do when I graduated culinary school. These kids are good! [Laughs.] There was a couple of times that I was walking around watching them thinking, if I was competing in this very competition against these kids, I might win. They were so sophisticated. I'd ask these kids questions and the answers they gave me had me thinking, umm, you're eleven? [Laughs.] It's just incredible how knowledgeable they are. They've watched me, Bobby Flay, Michael Simon…they understand the fundamentals of cooking and why things work. What they are capable of doing is just mind blowing.
Ahhh that's adorable on so many levels. OK since we're obsessed with all things Duff and since I know you never stop, tell me what else you are working on that we should be on the lookout for.
Right now I'm working on a book called "Duff Bakes" and it is a big baking book perfect for baking at home. What I'm trying to do with it is demystify a lot of the things about baking that scare people. A lot of the books out there are great and I love them, but I understand how they can seem scary. I think once someone learns to bake their own loaf of bread and realizes how easy it is, people are going to feel accomplished and I want people to feel that. The other cool thing about the book is that I'm doing all of the photography as well.
You just described me to a tee because I can cook, but baking? No thanks. It seems way too hard.
Well you give me a call in October and I'm going to send you a copy. [Laughs.] You're going to read it and be like, oh yeah, I can do this!
Make sure you tune in January 29th to catch "Duff Till Dawn" on Food Network Thursday nights at 7:30pm (PST) and "Kids Baking Championship" on Monday, February 2nd at 8pm. For more info on the show, go to www.FoodNetwork.com. For more on Duff, be sure to check out his website www.CharmCityCakes, visit his new bakery "Duff Cakemix"on Melrose, and follow him on Twitter @Duff_Goldman and Instagram @Duff_Goldman.