23 Things You Didn't Know About Duff Goldman

Get to know Duff, the Ace of Cakes. From baking artisanal breads in culinary school to creating intricate confections at his Charm City Bakery, Duff is a mad scientist with no creative limits. And, don’t forget to catch him on Kids Baking Championship, Mondays at 8|7c.

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All About Duff

Take a look inside Duff’s analytical mind to find out how he brings his cakes to life. With hands like a magician, he creates cakes that are downright majestic. Though Duff initially wanted to be a chef, he eventually fell in love with baking and set out on a mission to prove that baking is a true skilled discipline.

Favorite Fried Dessert

"It’s either a Boston cream doughnut or tempura-fried green tea ice cream."

Favorite Kind of Pie

"My favorite pie in the world is my apple pie."

Favorite Pastry

"My favorite pastry is this little cookie I got in Hong Kong that was stuffed with pork and gravy. Nothing is better than a cookie stuffed with pork and gravy, right? It was super good."

Favorite Chocolate Dessert

"Peanut butter and chocolate ice cream with the big, fat chunks of really hard, solid, cold peanut butter."

Favorite Family Dessert Recipe

"My favorite family recipe is my great-grandmother’s strudel. It’s pretty ridiculous."

Get the Recipe: Mamo's Apple Strudel

Favorite Deep-Fried Savory Dish

"My favorite deep-fried, savory dish is samosas."

Favorite Pasta Dish

"I think my favorite pasta dish is really good, really rich, really meaty Bolognese."

Favorite Sandwich

"You can’t just ask your favorite sandwich, because it depends on your mood. Some days I really want a good chicken parm on toasted bread, like a cheap one from a takeout. Sometimes you want a Philly cheesesteak. If I had to pick just one sandwich...my mom used to make me these little cold butter and radish sandwiches on crusty bread with salt. That was a good sandwich."

His Real Name Is Jeffrey.

Duff was born Jeffrey Adam Goldman — his older brother, Willie, is responsible for his nickname, Duffy. "As hard as Willie tried to pronounce 'Jeffrey,' it kept coming out wrong," Duff says.

Baking Is Magical in Duff’s World

"The thing about baking is that it’s always magical, every time you do it. You take a bunch of sort of weird ingredients — flour, butter, sugar, eggs, spices, things like that; you combine them together in different ratios, in different orders, different quantities with different flavors and you get literally millions of different things."

The First Thing Duff Ever Baked Really Well Was Not a Cake

"I think the first thing I ever baked successfully was a Shrinky Dink. Shrinky Dinks were awesome, man."

He Initially Wanted to Be a Savory Chef, Not a Pastry Chef

Duff’s mentor Chef Cindy Wolf refused to let him cook. "I wanted to cook," Duff says. "She wouldn’t let me cook, but she needed someone to bake cornbread and biscuits, so I did that for two years."

Even As a Star Student, Duff Make Rookie Mistakes

While Duff was in culinary school, he was assigned to bake bread for an alumni event. He made the most-beautiful breads in different shapes and sizes, but forgot one simple ingredient — the salt! "My teacher’s like, 'Hey, you know, all the bread really looks awesome; it’s all beautiful,'" Duff recalls. The teacher asked him if he had tasted it, and Duff said he hadn’t. He continues, "We went over to the rack where all the different breads were, and I took a bite of it, and I had forgotten the salt."

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Duff Would Bake a Cake for Led Zeppelin If He Could

"I would bake a cake for the band Led Zeppelin in the summer of 1977, and I would have to deliver it to them backstage at Madison Square Garden so I could go and see that show," Duff says. He’s speaking figuratively, because he was only 2 years old at the time.

His Mom Is His Greatest Fan

"Because nobody inflates my ego like my mom. Like, I could bake something and it’s good, but I know it’s not my best work, and my mom will act like it is manna from heaven."

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He’s a Serious Jokester

Duff has unicorn meat in his fridge! "Somebody gave me a gift as a joke. It's a can of unicorn meat, you open it up and there's little chopped-up unicorn in there," he says. "It's kind of funny when people go in my fridge and, like, there's unicorn meat."

He Will Push and Shove for a Good Meal

When he traveled to China, Duff’s best food experience was eating dim sum at a local restaurant in Hong Kong. "You literally had to fight to get your food, literally push people out of the way to get to the dim sum, and that was encouraged," he recalls. "And I did all right, because I'm a lot bigger than Chinese people. It was just such culture shock."

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He Has a Ritual for Eating Weeknight Meals

"I always eat out of deli containers, and I usually eat standing up over the sink, so generally speaking, every meal I make is some sort of mishmash of a bunch of stuff, because I just got used to eating like that," he says, explaining that it’s a habit that came from working in restaurants.

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If Duff Weren’t in the Food Industry, He'd Be in Music

"I actually started the bakery so I could play music in a band, so I'd say [I’d be] a working musician. But, like, realistically, I'd probably be a mechanic."

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Chicago Is His Favorite City in the Country

“You can find everything in Chicago, and the Polish food is amazing. They just know how to treat meat. I've just had so many good meals in Chicago."

He’s Always Up for Adventure!

What’s Duff’s happiest place to be? "Standing on a curb outside of an airport in a city I've never been to," he says.

For Duff, Being a Baker Is Like Having a Special Power

"Anybody who works in kitchens can cook, but very few people can bake, and I feel like when you can bake and you can bake well, everybody else kind of looks at you like you just know something that they don’t."

Mistakes Are His Best Teachers

"I make mistakes all the time, and because I make mistakes all the time, I know how to fix them."

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