The creative force behind Duff Goldman for Gartner Studios
Chef Duff has been cooking since the age of four, when his Mom caught him in the kitchen watching Chef Tell and swinging around a meat cleaver. A few years later, his culinary curiosity almost cost him a finger when he decided the best way to carve a pumpkin was with the largest knife he could find in the kitchen. Despite the incident, Chef Duff found his calling and started working professionally when he was just 14 and has never turned back.
Inspired by his Great-Grandmother, "Mamo", a legendary baker and cook who came to the U.S. from the Ukraine at age 16, baking was in Duff’s blood. His artistic streak was expanded when he studied art at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. - - becoming a local graffiti artist of some notoriety.
Duff started working for acclaimed Baltimore Chef Cindy Wolf, and then left Baltimore to study pastries at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California. While in Napa, Duff was a stagiere at the French Laundry, working under acclaimed pastry Chef Steven Durfee. Following graduation from the CIA, Duff became Executive Pastry Chef of the Vail Cascade Hotel and Resort in the mountains of Vail, Colorado. With his culinary degree and growing experience, Duff left Colorado to cook and bake bread for Todd English’s Olives in Washington, D.C.
Duff’s entrepreneurial sprit took him back to Baltimore in 2000, where he finally realized his dream in 2002, and opened Charm City Cakes……in his apartment. A growing clients list helped propel Duff into an even bigger location: an old church he retrofitted into his current modern bakery. As word about his unusual and daring cakes got out, Duff hired staff with more artistic experience than the typical pastry chef, like painters, architects and sculptors. His out-of-the-ordinary team is known for producing highly creative cakes that range from Star Wars characters, a replica of the Stanley Cup, a working life-size motorcycle, and Hogwarts Castle for Warner Bros. and the premiere of Harry Potter.
Following several appearances on its cake competition Challenge series, Food Network tapped Chef Duff and his fellow cake baking artists at Charm City Cakes to star in Ace of Cakes. After 10 seasons on the Food Network, the show wrapped as one of the longest running reality shows in history to feature the same cast.
Duff has appeared on numerous shows including Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Iron Chef America, Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Best Thing I Ever Ate. His work has also been featured on The Price is Right, Jon & Kate Plus 8, No Reservations, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Talk, The Chew, The View, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz and many more. He is the best selling author of Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes (HarperCollins), which published in October 2009.
In 2009, Duff paired up with the team at Gartner Studios in Stillwater, Minnesota to design and launch the Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios line of cake baking and decorating products. The signature line of professional-grade products was designed to take the fear out of cake decorating with fun products that are easy to use. “I’ve built my career on an unconventional approach to cakes: having a good time and using tools that may not be considered traditional. When I was starting out, I wanted to use what the pros used. Later, I wanted to design a line of my own. Gartner Studios told me they could make a custom line of products to let people create signature cakes of their own. Now, anyone can do what I do at home with these products.” Duff was deeply involved in product development and personally approved every product, from cake tattoos, to edible cake graffiti, to an airbrush machine. Today, the product line is one of the finest collections available outside of professional bakeries.
In 2012, Duff’s horizons continued to expand as he opened Charm City Cakes West in Los Angeles and Duff’s Cake mix, a do-it-yourself cake decorating shop. Duff was also named Culinary Ambassador by the White House, and created the cake for President Obama’s Commander-in-Chief Ball. He is currently creating a new baking cookbook, slated for release in November, 2014.
He continues to create new products for Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios and inspire a new generation of bakers to just “go for it.”