The Ace of Cakes: Duff Goldman

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Mr. T and Steve McQueen

LHJ: Who do you look to for inspiration?
Chef Duff: A big one, a huge one is Steve McQueen. Just 'cause of the kind of person he was. I mean he's cool in his movies and all, right? But he was just a bad *$&#*. This was a guy who really studied his craft. Steve McQueen was selling himself. He was selling himself as an actor, as a talented guy. There's a lot of, I think, parallels there. You know, we're both incredibly handsome. [laughs] But yeah, he's definitely a huge hero of mine. There's so many. Mr. T is also a huge one for me. His attitude of just "What's up?" I love it. I love Mr. T because he doesn't hold back. He's just like, "Look, I'm Mr. T. I'm the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen, and there's nothing you can do about the fact that I'm standing right in front of you."

LHJ: Tell me about your untraditional staff. How do you think this plays a role in the show's popularity?
Chef Duff: I tell you, everybody is a true individual, and they're real artists. They either went to art school or grew up doing something artistic. I didn't go to art school, but I was a graffiti artist and metal sculptor. I've been making art my whole life, and the when I went to culinary school, cakes and art kind of collided, and that's basically what you get.

Anna was my first intern. She came in, and man, she was just great, right off the bat. She was really making this cool stuff, and she was a graphic design major. Then we got Katie Rose, who's an amazing painter. I mean, she can paint just anything, and she's just so meticulous, and just cares so much.

Katherine is what I call my expediter. She's basically my heavy hand in the bakery. When someone needs to get moving along, when someone's kind of lagging behind, she'll jump in there and help them out with whatever.

Geoff was an architectural model builder before he started working here, and you can see that in the way he makes cakes. All of his lines are perfect, clean, 90 degrees. Ben is our engineer. This guy, right now, as we speak, is building a life-size replica of a Ducati motorcycle. And it works -- you turn it on, the wheels spin, it shoots out smoke. Yeah, it's crazy. Lights come on. It's got a guitar amp inside of it.

Continued on page 3:  Best and Worst Cakes

 

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