Here's Who First Inspired Duff Goldman To Be A Cake Artist

Successful people will often cite mentors, teachers, and other inspirational individuals as pivotal in their careers and lives in general. Usually, chefs' mentors are other chefs, but not always. One of the most influential people in Duff Goldman's life came from an entirely different—and inedible—creative discipline.

In an interview with comedian Dennis Miller on his "Dennis Miller + One" show on the Portable.TV streaming service, the "Ace of Cakes" star and "Kid's Baking Championship" host revealed that one of the people who shaped his future was a metal artist (via MutualArt) and teacher at MacLean High School in Virginia, Jeffrey Meizlik (also via Your Wood Info and Welcome to Baltimore Hon!).

The story goes like this: Duff always had a creative side, which he often expressed in ways that got him into trouble, namely spray painting graffiti. Goldman says that his mother conspired with Mr. Meizlik to redirect young Duff's creativity. Meizlik taught him metalworking techniques and "really had an impact just from sort of helping him do the things he did...watching his process," Goldman told Miller. After that, said Goldman, "I started building crazy metal sculptures."

His art teacher was influential

Goldman experimented with charcoal and painting in high school (via "Dennis Miller + One"). And while these pursuits were creative, none of them compared with the adrenaline rush of "jumping a fence to a train yard and spray painting the trains and getting chased by cops," confessed the now-famous owner of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore (and now Los Angeles). Cutting, bending, and welding metal was more exciting, he explained, saying, "I thought, "This is fun, this is dangerous.' I liked it."

Goldman also said that part of what made Mr. Meizlik a mentor was his "cool dude" and "very chill" vibe. "He didn't act like an 'artist,'" said Duff, using air quotes. "I was like 'OK, this guy is like a dude like me and he's doing cool stuff.'" He likened the way Mr. Meizlik made art cool to the way George Lucas made space and lightsabers cool. High praise, indeed.

Seeing Goldman's extreme cakes with moving parts and smoke effects makes more sense when you think of a 15-year-old Duff armed with welding torches, metal cutters, pliers, and other tools in his high school's metal shop. And it just goes to show: You never know who will inspire you...or who you might inspire.

Speaking of inspiring youths, Duff's new baking show for kids, "Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time!" premieres Thursday, April 29, on discovery+.