Duff Goldman's vans at Charm City Cakes log about 50,000 miles every year, delivering his famous, over-the-top cakes from Baltimore to California and everywhere in between. But on a few Sundays every fall, the vans take a break and roll into the Ravens stadium parking lot so Duff and the Ace of Cakes gang can cheer on their hometown team—and dig into a big pregame feast.
"With tailgating, the city really comes out and expresses how much they love their team," Duff said one chilly game day last fall. "I love walking around the parking lot. The air smells good here, like every meat product under the sun — burgers, sausage, chicken."
Meat, in Duff's book, is second only to cake. Many people don't realize that years before he became the Ace of Cakes, Duff worked his way up as a restaurant cook, so he knows how to make more than just dessert. "It's true," said bakery manager Mary Alice Yeskey. "Duff can cook!"
Duff's food never lasts long. On this Sunday, he, Mary Alice and cake decorators Mary Smith and Lauren Friedman quickly attracted the attention of their parking lot neighbors, who came over to swap drinks and snacks.
Still, we couldn't help but notice that Duff's savory dishes go the way of his cakes: They're super colorful. Leave it to this guy to make purple potato salad and yellow curried pasta. "I'm very into color, because you eat with your eyes first. Why have russet potatoes when you can have purple ones? I was thinking, 'Oh man, Ravens...purple potatoes.' "
"The great thing about tailgating food is, it's all home-cooked," Duff said. "Look at these guys in the next tent—they have jambalaya, shrimp cocktail, sliders. No offense to the stadium people, but I'm not spending seven bucks on a hot dog."
Photographs by Rick Lew