You don’t need a sweet tooth to recognize Duff Goldman. As the owner and proprietor of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Goldman and his staff spent 10 seasons as the focus of Food Network’s breakout hit reality show, “Ace of Cakes.” Duff Goldman and Charm City Cakes became famous for their wildly imaginative cake designs. Using methods that often involved blowtorches and power tools, Goldman created cakes in such shapes as Radio City Music Hall for the Rockettes, Hogwarts Castle for the premiere of one of the “Harry Potter” films and even the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA.
“We’re viewed as a bakery that makes edible art,” he says. “I have an incredibly creative staff, from artists and musicians to designers and ex-baristas. We are always pushing the boundaries of what cake can be.”
Through it all, Goldman and his bakery established a personality and reputation that still make him one of the most in-demand bakers today, even after the TV series ended. Charm City Cakes continues to turn out mouth-watering, eye-popping cakes for high-profile customers around the world, but neither the company nor Goldman are content to stick to business as usual. With the opening of a new location in Los Angeles and the creation of a branded line of bakeware and related products, Goldman and Charm City Cakes are poised to maintain a place in the spotlight.
People may not be able to buy one of Goldman’s creations from their local bakery, but they will have the opportunity to bring some of his unique style to their own kitchens soon, thanks to a series of partnerships with some premium licensees. Perhaps the most prominent is the “Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios” line of bakeware and cake-decorating products.
Created through a partnership between Goldman and Minnesota-based Gartner Studios, the line allows people to make their own cake creations at home. Along with hardware like non-stick pans and spatulas, the line also includes unique decorations such as cake “tattoos,” sprinkles and colored fondant.
“The best thing about our relationship with Charm City Cakes, and Duff Goldman in particular, is that we took a category (baking) that was tired and made it into a category that is fun and exciting,” explains Jan Dornseif of Gartner Specialty Products.
For those who want the taste of Charm City Cakes, Goldman has teamed up with Blue Bunny to produce a line of cake-inspired ice cream. With flavors like “I Do! I Do! Wedding Cake,” “Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake” and “24 Karat Carrot Cake,” Blue Bunny’s ice creams bring the experience home.
“Godiva is one of my partners, and we will announce our collaborations in the near future,” he says.
Close to the Coast
Goldman is branching out in another, more literal way, as well. “We have just opened the doors on our West Coast location in Los Angeles,” he says. “The opening of a Los Angeles shop has allowed the company to reach a larger geographic area with our cakes, and more importantly, it has increased the company’s visibility in a market that offers opportunities for our cakes and brand to be seen at high-profile events. We have a lot of things in the works for that location.”
The Right Ingredients
Charm City Cakes’ creations catapulted Goldman and the bakery to fame, but he says they couldn’t have happened just anywhere. He credits his hard-working staff as well as the unique atmosphere he fosters in the bakery as the reasons for their success.
“It’s a culture of ownership,” Goldman says. “We are a small group of people who love what we do. Charm City Cakes employs 25 people between the shops in California and Baltimore, and we all have a mutual respect for each other and we make sure that even the loftiest goals are fun.” It has been this attitude that made Charm City Cakes one of Baltimore magazine’s Top 20 Best Places to Work.
Within that atmosphere, Goldman and his staff turn inspiration into reality.
“We can make literally anything, from the most beautiful, classic floral wedding cake to a 750-pound life-sized baby elephant,” he says. “Our cakes really are the best, and they are delicious. We have over 40 flavors, and if we don’t have it, just ask and we can probably make it.”