You may recognize pastry from his reality TV show, Ace of Cakes, on the Food Network. But Duff’s background consists of much more than an artful cake creator. Duff began his cooking years at the early age of 4, and began working in a professional kitchen at 14. Having a great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother who all worked as cooks or artists, a culinary arts career was somewhat inevitable.
Duff studied pastry arts at the CIA in Napa Valley, where he advanced his culinary talent. Having gained notoriety as a skilled graffiti artist as a kid, his technical pastry skills coupled with his graffiti inclinations invited a unique career in pastry. After working in pastry at Keller’s French Laundry, Duff moved back to Baltimore in 2000 and opened Charm City Cakes to televised national acclaim.
Live with girlfriend.
did you want to be when you grew up?
An artist – or a football
was your first job in food?
once been a professional graffiti artist, how do you blend the talents of
graffiti into cake design?
Taught me about color, harmony, and taking risks. Listening to your heart and breaking rules.
Are your cakes 100% edible?
Pretty much everything but the internal support
structure found in the more extravagant cakes.
are on one of the more popular shows on the Food Network, Ace of Cakes. How did this
opportunity come about?
It was sort of a perfect storm of events. My brother is a producer and lives with a
bunch in industry people in LA. One of
his roommates worked at MTV, and sent a crew to Baltimore to shoot a short segment for The
Christopher Lowell Show. At the same
time, Food Network was looking for new contestants for one of it’s challenge shows
and I was recommended by Collette Peters. Feedback from both was pretty positive so my brother and his roommate
sold a pitch about me to a reality
production company called Authentic Entertainment. They then shot a five minute pilot, shopped it around to various
networks, and here we are…
have worked all over the country in some of the finest restaurants (French Laundry, Olives); what was the
impetus in leaving the restaurant scene to open Charm City Bakery in Baltimore?
I wanted to be in a band and go on tour and in order to do that I had to
be my own boss, and in order to do that I had to do the one thing I knew how to
of your most elaborate cakes take days to create; what’s the longest time
you’ve ever spent on one?
The cake we made for the Harry Potter Premiere in Los Angeles took about three weeks.
much on average does the aforementioned elaborate cake cost?
have to ask…
you have an “inexpensive” cake, or one for your Average Joe?
We do cakes for anyone who wants one – pricing is on
par with bakeries nationwide.
your favorite cake you’ve made, and why?
A cake for my sous chef Geof’s older brother, called Klimpt named after Gustav whose art I ripped off to make the cake.
your least favorite cake (and yes, you must pick one)?
I love them all – they’re like children.
is your junk food of choice?
your favorite bakery in NYC?
Cake Place or Collette’s Place, and Confetti Cakes.
chance of opening up a bakery in NYC?
Nope – that territory is well
covered by people I respect and admire.
What pastry arts trend do you most embrace?
Funnily enough, flavor – making things
trend do you wish would die already?
Cupcakes. And chocolate fountains.
next on the horizon for you? Are there any plans for future bakeries? Spill the
Until we eat again,
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