Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes is no stranger to Athleisure Mag as we chatted with him in this year's Anniversary issue about coming back for another race with Chefs Cycle (a fundraising endurance event May 16th - May 18th featuring award-winning chefs and members of the culinary community fighting hunger outside the kitchen where proceeds go to No Kid Hungry) and how he was preparing for this activity. We took some time to chat with Celebrity Chef and Food Network personality Duff about his role as a judge for a number of the network's shows, including Spring Baking Championship, Kids Baking Championship (to name a few), his partnership with Bounty, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and his inner workings as he continues to embrace the magic of baking.
ATHLEISURE MAG: We loved talking with you earlier this year about your preparation to participate in this year's Chefs Cycle - are you excited?
DUFF GOLDMAN: Yes it starts on May 16th! I'm so excited it's going to be great.
AM: We can only imagine! Well, we've been fans of you since your first show with Food Network, Ace of Cakes. In our opinion, you're the first baker that we knew that represented an edgy out of the box style with all of the sweet treats that you created.
DG: Oh thanks!
AM: Oh yeah, watching you while we grew up, we were struck with how this guy - not to say that you're not delicate, but there is a certain idea you have (at least back at that time) of what a pastry chef would look like.
AM: To see a cool tattooed guy busting out with these really cool friends - it was cool. Even if you weren't a baker yourself, it was cool to see that barrier being broken and changing the idea of what it means to work in a given profession. So how did you bring that into all of these other Food Network shows that you have been a part of especially with incorporating kids and making it look cool and fun while taking your ideas from concept to reality?
DG: Well you know, I think that most of cooking is really fun and interesting. It's not that hard to make it seem that way. When the kids are excited about it, it's not hard for those who are watching to see that they are and to want to know more about it. They watch us do what we do and then they're fascinated. It's like when you pick up a new album from somebody - if someone else has really got down on that record and tells you - you really have to listen to this record, this beat or chord progression, then you really get into it because someone you know has brought you something that they think is cool.
I think cooking is the same way, especially on TV - you've got to be excited about it. I am - to this day when I put something in the oven, and it starts to rise, to this day, it's still magical for me! I still get really excited. When it's working you're like, 'check it out' it's bubbling, moving, growing and cracking! It's doing what it's doing and it's still neat!
AM: Which is cool and we can totally tell that about you because you look like you're loving life! You can tell that you really love the process, the creation of it and the looks on your face - it's priceless.
DG: Yeah man! It never gets old!
AM: We know that the 3rd season of Spring Baking Championship ends this month with the adults. You also judge a number of children's baking shows on the network. How is it working with these young chefs and bakers?
DG: Um a lot messier! Definitely a lot messier - you always want a lot of paper towel nearby because kids are messy. Other than that, the judging is really the same. I'm honest and fair and when they mess up, I point it out. I think that with kids, I spend a little more time on when there is a mistake on how to correct it. When adults make mistakes it's usually a bone head move and they know better. With kids, they haven't made something enough times. They're 10 years old - how much patachou have they made? So it's like hey you put too many eggs in there - don't put so much in so that you don't have a puddle.
AM: Haha exactly! So how important do you think your role is as a role model to them in terms of giving them that encouragement and feedback?
DG: I think it's really important - the kids see me as this big goofy guy, but then they also see me as this expert as it's what I do and what I'm good at. It's really important that I never want to discourage them and I want any challenge that the kids are having in the kitchen as an opportunity for them to learn. So they don't see a mistake as a mistake, they see it as an opportunity to learn something. That's what makes baking so fascinating.
I'm still learning at the same pace as I was learning back then. Every day, I learn something and am doing something new. I refine my technique, I try something different and it's important as I have been baking for over 20 years! You have to stay awake and if you go on autopilot, you're putting a stake in your career. You have to be present in the moment and mindful when you're baking. You have to just be fascinated by it as that's what it is.
AM: One of the things we really love is when you take your first bite. Your face lights up, your eyes take it in and we can see there are a lot of wheels turning. What is going on in your head at that moment?
DG: It's funny because I love to eat and I love food. I love taking bites and I love it! The thought process going on in my head is that I want to viscerally enjoy this bite! Then I have to remember that I am judging something so I have to dissect it - but I don't want to dissect it, I just want to eat it - leave me alone haha! There's always a conflict going on in my head like - pay attention - but then it's so good - but pay attention! I just want to chew. But it's usually that when you see that look because I'm confused between the two.
AM: For sure when you have that first bite, we see all the synapses firing and you have the best responses coming off of the taste! It also seems tough because you only have a few seconds to take it in and grasp what it going on. Our team laughs everytime we see it!
DG: I know I take these big stupid bites! It's funny because my girlfriend always yells at me saying I need to take smaller bites because I'm going to choke to death. I'm like, I've been taking these big bites for 4 years now, I'm going to be fine.
The other thing that's funny is that I take these bites - because I'm watching the shows and live tweeting them and when I'm not on camera and I'm just out and when it's a nice restaurant where there is something new or they are trying a new technique - I do the exact same face. I look up at the ceiling and people have said - that's the same face from the Baking Championship! I'm like, "it's not an act!"
AM: Tell us about your partnership with Bounty and how we can keep having fun while we're cleaning on the go or different tips that you have come up with.
DG: Bounty and I partnered up to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15th) and I came up with a recipe that would be really fun for kids to make - a Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookie. I think it's important to get kids cooking and baking to see the work and ingredients that go into it to get them to start thinking critically at an early age about what they are eating. When you bake with kids, they are really messy but you want to make sure that they are still having fun. You want to make sure that you keep their attention. If you're stopping to clean every 5 mins - it's taking away from the experience. It's important to have a really good paper towel.
You can clean as you go, because when it gets too messy, you can't do anything. You have to keep it clean, but you have to keep it moving. Bounty Paper Towels really are great, because they don't shred, tear or turn into liquid when they get wet. They're really useful beyond just cleaning up! If you're whisking something in a bowl and don't have another hand free, you can take a sheet of Bounty under the bowl and whisk it and the bowl won't move around. The same is true for the cutting board - it won't slide.
AM: Wow that's really cool!
DG: Yeah it's good! Also when you have a hot pan like you're sauteeing a piece of chicken and you have taken the chicken out of a non-stick pan, what you can do is take a sheet of Bounty, ball it up, take the tongs and you rub it on the inside of the hot pan and it picks up all that grease and cleans the pan really well so that you're not scrubbing with something abbrasive. You can't do that with a cheap paper towel - it's impossible. The other brands start to char and catch fire! It's REALLY good for greasing cake pans. You spray the pans, but you don't want the puddles so you take a sheet of Bounty and run it inside your cake pan or tins and it makes it nice and even so it doesn't burn in the oven.
AM: Okay those are some serious tips and I wouldn't have known some of those.
DG: Yeah it's really cool!
AM: We know you have your own line of cake mixes, baking tools and more - what are your favorites?
DG: Oh man that's a good question. My favorite, I'd say the tie dye or the camouflage cake mix.
AM: Wait - you have camo?
DG: Yeah we have camouflage. They're so neat. Again, speaking to that magic - when you do these things with a kid - you're dropping the different color batters into a pan, that's just fun. You're having a good time. But then when it comes out and you cut it and you see that it really looks like camouflage, kid's minds EXPLODE! They can't believe it and are like, "WHAT, how did this happen?"
AM: That sounds pretty cool! Speaking of National Chocolate Chip Day, we saw the Rainbow Chip Cookies and it reminds us of the whole "unicorning" trend that is popping up throughout various lifestyle verticals - why are these cookies so perfect to enjoy on this holiday?
DG: I wanted a recipe that was going to be good with kids. Kids love touching things and it's a very tactile recipe. There are colors and then you're rolling them out like snakes and you twist that big snake out and then you have that big magical moment that when you cut it, you see all the colors that have mushed together and then what's really fun, you get to place each chocolate chip on each piece yourself. It's fun because kids can make smiley faces or do their initials with the chocolate chip cookies - really decorative things.
It's a really fun recipe that is pretty involved and is not the easiest recipe in the world. I don't dumb it down. I don't dumb it down when I judge the kids and I don't dumb down the recipes or kids. I think about what kids are going to think is fun and sometimes it's hard, but they're still going to think it's fun!
AM: That's really cool. Last question! So June 2nd is National Donut Day. Do you have a favorite donut that you like to make?
DG: Mmmmm - I have a favorite one that I like to eat!
AM: Ok make or eat!
DG: Have you ever had the blueberry cake donuts from 7-Eleven?
AM: No we haven't haha!
DG: It might be my favorite donut in the world!
AM: We will have to try that!
DG: Yeah they are amazing HAHA - I love those things!!!
Make sure you watch Duff and the rest of the judging team for the season finale of Spring Baking Championship on Food Network at the end of this month. Also, follow him on Twitter and IG to see more about upcoming shows!