October 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm , by Arpita Joshi
Fear not – just because this post is about cranberries doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Thanksgiving (I know you already can’t get over the fact that Halloween is already here). I spent a chilly afternoon in Rockefeller Center, New York, to watching a taping of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes that will be airing tonight at 10pm/9c and 10:30pm/9:30c. For the episode, the host, Chef Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes and his cake team (known for making elaborate, out-of-this world custom cakes) made a cake celebrating cranberries and appreciating the work of Ocean Spray’s growers – who were all on hand at the event to tell their stories about growing up in cranberry bogs and continuing generations of harvesting. While he stood in New York City’s very own” bog”, Duff told me about the event and the incredible cake commemorating it.
Before he became Food Network’s cake-making master, Duff Goldman grew up in Cape Cod – where he says the whole town was surrounded by cranberries and everyone grew up in a cranberry bog. “Bogs were like the cool place to hang out — we would hang out and drink beers there in highschool, we’d meet up there… it was just a huge part of the culture and I have a lot of memories. So it’s a very exciting thing for me, I really wanted to get involved and make a cake when I heard Food Network was partnering with Ocean Spray on this.”
The cake, which took 110 man hours to make, was a mini edible replica of – what else – a cranberry bog. Duff went with 3 other decorators to a bog in New Jersey and got their hands dirty working right alongside them, even operating some machinery – all to get a feel of what it was really like to grow cranberries and get the best details into the cake. According to Duff, “It was serious – we really had to work and if anyone was too slow or anything, they got kicked out. It’s different from looking at photographs and just thinking you have an idea of how the cake should look. The growers looked at the cake and really think it looks exactly how it should look, even the little details. You can’t get that from a photograph, and we wanted to really get it right…when the growers see the cake, they get it.”
Aside from the significant emotional tie to his days in Cape Cod, Duff really appreciates Ocean Spray’s efforts as a co-op and a company that supports generations of families through their business – his ultimate reason for being involved and contributing his cake to the event. “Ocean Spray just blows me away – it’s this huge company that’s so involved in communities and its workers and emphasizing on family, not just business — the workers govern the company. They’re just full of cool opportunities and stories. The best part is that we got to make this process exciting – we got to make cranberry bogs cool and exciting, and when people take interest in the cake it really shows off the hard work and the family values and traditions of these growers. It’s a big part of where I come from, so it’s just really exciting.”
Get another look at the cake and hear more about the world of cranberry growing on tonight’s at episode of Ace of Cakes — catch it at 10pm/9c and 10:30pm/9:30c on the Food Network.
Photos, top to bottom: The Ocean Spray Growers check out Duff’s berry good creation, Ace of Cakes films in an NYC-style bog, and I sneak in a photo with Duff after my interview.
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