Fans of the popular Food Network show “Ace of Cakes” filed into Kendall Hall Friday, Sept. 10, eagerly awaiting the appearance of Jeffrey Adam “Duff” Goldman. The Charm City Cakes bakery owner talked to students about life, goals and, yes, cake during the College Union Board-sponsored event.
Goldman dressed casually, donning his normal uniform of a hockey jersey, shorts and sneakers, fresh from delivering a cake to the U.S. Open Tennis Championship.
Referring to a list of talking points CUB suggested he follow, Goldman joked that his lectures tend to sometimes come out crude.
“Usually I just come out telling stories and they can get pretty raunchy,” he said. “So I think they’re trying to rein me in.”
Goldman talked about his childhood in New England, explaining how he evolved from a graffiti artist to a celebrated cake decorator.
After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, Goldman attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, where he first discovered his talent for decorating cakes.
He disliked it at first, he said, claiming he thought it was “for housewives,” but later became an executive pastry chef at a Colorado restaurant. He worked as a personal chef and a bass guitarist for an emo band before settling down to open his now-famous business.
The majority of Goldman’s speech was aimed at encouraging students to “keep their eyes open” to careers and opportunities they might not have previously considered.
“The biggest thing to do is not to decide what you want to do,” Goldman said. “Don’t pigeonhole yourself too early.”
He got his start on the Food Network by competing and losing in numerous Food Network Challenges. He never anticipated having his own show.
“You have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said.
The lecture ended with a question and answer segment, where Goldman revealed his favorite cake, the moving R2D2 cake made at Skywalker Ranch, his least favorite foods — “I hate pretentious foods!”— and
even his relationship with TLC’s Cake Boss — “Me and the Cake Boss are totally cool,” he said.
Goldman made an appearance earlier in the day as well, playing the bass guitar in his indie-rock band Radhorse at the Brower Student Center. The band is composed of Goldman and his friends Honus (Steven Baumgardner), Lukas Rahn and Tim Yungwirth.
“The band is something that I do to feel normal,” Goldman said. “I’m not the cake guy here.” Being in a band was Goldman’s initial dream in life.
“I started baking so that I could be in a band,” he said. Cakes were, at first, a way to pay his bills until he could become a professional musician.
The band, which was previously called …soihadto…, is in the midst of “redesigning themselves,” according to its members. Despite conflicts with a former “douchebag” member, involving a lawsuit and the hacking of the band’s Facebook page, the guys remain optimistic about their future.
“The new direction of where we’re going … we’re really stoked. It’s a lot more melodic,” Yungwirth said. With a new album in the works, a new store opening in Los Angeles and another season of “Ace of Cakes” being filmed, Goldman continues to expand his horizons. He admitted that he still doesn’t know what he wants to be “when (he) grows up,” but, for him, success should be a piece of cake.