Duff Goldman's Best Advice For Students Headed To Culinary School

Cake guru Duff Goldman is a graduate of the pastry school at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone, runs a successful bi-coastal bakery business, and is the star of Food Network's "Ace of Cakes" and other cooking shows. These credentials would qualify him to advise the next generation of bakers. So, what would he say to someone interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts?

He might tell them to be humble. Goldman's resume includes jobs at higher-end restaurants, but he believes that working at McDonald's and other fast food chains taught him how to run a kitchen, why uniforms need to be presentable, and the importance of product consistency. He learned humility in the higher-end restaurants too. After culinary school, Goldman got a job at Charleston restaurant in Baltimore. He wanted to cook, but the owner had him baking cornbread and biscuits – something he did for two years — which helped him discover his talent and affinity for baking. He saw how his position was so much less stressful in comparison to the chefs in the kitchen and realized he had fallen into a better choice.

More of Duff Goldman's best advice

Goldman has advised future culinary students over the years. Here are more examples of his best advice.

Looks aren't everything, according to Goldman. Creating a cake replica of NASA's Artemis rocket is impressive, but it needs to be tasty too. As a chef-entrepreneur and cooking show judge, Goldman knows that a beautiful presentation may dazzle — until someone grabs a fork and digs in. Then it's all about flavor and texture.

He told Food Network about a cooking school disaster that happened while he was baking bread for an American Culinary Federation (ACF) conference. "I baked all this beautiful bread, all these different shapes, and really, really cool stuff. I was showing off a little bit, but I'm a chef — we like to do that," says Goldman. But when his instructor tasted the bread, Goldman realized his mistake. He had forgotten to add salt and had to start over.

Goldman also advises that you find your passion and do what you love. Goldman was featured in an article in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal where he offered this advice: "Don't try to get straight A's. It doesn't matter. If you understand what you are doing, you'll get straight A's anyway. And, when you find something fascinating, learn everything you can."

Goldman emphasizes charity and creativity in his work

Goldman says his Jewish upbringing taught him the value of giving back. He is involved with many charitable organizations, including No Kid Hungry, Make a Wish, and Save a Child's Heart. As the host of "Kids Baking Championship" on Food Network, Goldman was helping and mentoring children even before he became father to his toddler, Josephine

Goldman suggests being creative and adventurous. "I really like to make people smile, make them laugh, or make them think," Goldman told students at the Institute of Culinary Education. When the college asked the author of "Ace of Cakes," "Duff Bakes," "Super Good Cookies for Kids," and "Super Good Baking for Kids" to blog about his "culinary voice," Goldman said he approaches baking with humor and surprise.

"I always want to put something surprising in there." That is evident from his creativity in making cakes with sound, fog, or motorized moving components like the working roller coaster cake. But Goldman doesn't want you to think he is not serious about what he does — he just has a blast doing it. 

"It's a cake shop," he says. "It should be fun."