The Untold Truth Of Charm City Cakes

Pastry chef Duff Goldman is known for his imaginative, awe-inspiring, intricately decorated confectionery creations. Think life-size animals, world-famous natural and historical sites, film and literary characters — Goldman has made them all. The famous baker first gained recognition from his work at Charm City Cakes, the Baltimore bakery he opened after quitting his day job in 2002, says the Food Network. Four years later, Goldman and his studio became household names through the long-running Food Network show, "Ace of Cakes." 

Though Goldman keeps himself busy judging shows like "Kids Baking Championship" and going head to head with fellow pastry chef Buddy Valastro on "Buddy vs. Duff," he still oversees his bakeries' two locations in Maryland and Los Angeles. Much is known about Charm City Cakes given its renown; however, it's the bakery's famous clientele and the remarkable stories of its talented staff members that might surprise you.

The historic and modern magic of Charm City Cakes

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Charm City Cakes' location in Baltimore was converted from an 1890s church, which had also served as a sewing factory, wine bar, and art gallery. "There was a small kitchen inside, and the first thing we did was expand it. The building needed quite a bit of work to get it back into shape, but it was totally worth it," Goldman, a former history major, said.

That's why, in addition to making all the crazy treats with smoke and moving parts, Charm City Cakes also honors its legacy by designing cakes after other historic buildings, including Wrigley Field, the White House, and Rockefeller Center (via the National Trust for Historic Preservation). When it comes to what projects the bakery will take on, the sky is the limit. "The thing about baking is that it's always magical, every time you do it," Goldman told the Food Network. "You take a bunch of sort of weird ingredients — flour, butter, sugar, eggs, spices, things like that; you combine them together in different rations, in different orders, different quantities with different flavors and you get literally millions of different things."

Charm City Cakes employees are close-knit

Want a fun working environment? Hire your friends as your employees! That's exactly what Goldman does when searching for new staff at Charm City Cakes, and the result is a professional atmosphere that is anything but dull. "I don't hire culinary students. I don't hire people that I don't know because I like things done a certain way. Everyone that works here, we're all friends. We all hang out," Goldman said in an episode of "Ace of Cakes," available on YouTube.

The original Charm City Cakes staff has changed since "Ace of Cakes" was on the air, but Geof Manthorne, Goldman's right hand and the bakery's executive sous chef, is still around. Newer on the team is lead cake artist Caitlin Taylor, a champion on Netflix's "Sugar Rush." "I am so incredibly grateful for each and every person I work with!" Taylor wrote in an Instagram post addressed to her Charm City coworkers. "You guys took me in with open arms and inspire me to be a better artist every day!" 

Charm City Cakes' masterpieces are still out of this world

If you watched "Ace of Cakes," you may remember just how much attention to detail went into every single piece of chocolate or fondant. In one episode, for example, Manthorne had to make a wedding cake that was a replica of a Jeep (via YouTube). In true Charm City fashion, he was diligent in getting every detail accurate, down to the tires and license plate. These days, even though the staff no longer makes their cakes on television every week, they are still just as vigilant in their work.

Check out Charm City Cakes on Instagram to see what elaborate desserts the professionals have been building lately. Just this summer, they made a convincing cityscape of Santorini in Greece, a trio of Travis Scott's Cacti seltzers, and an "Alice in Wonderland" cake complete with the Chesire Cat's grin. During the pandemic, they've also taken to YouTube to teach fans how to make Charm City-worthy creations in "Cake School: A How-To Series."

Charm City Cakes' sister business lets you be the cake decorator

As if two wildly successful bakeries weren't enough, Goldman also runs Duff's Cakemix, a do-it-yourself cake-decorating studio. At any one of its five locations in California (the one in Los Angeles is located right next door to Charm City Cakes), visitors are able to follow along with staff as they deck out memorable cakes and cupcakes. You might be able to make a popcorn, flower pot, or bunny cake, among others, or customize your own cake-decorating adventure for a private event (via Duff's Cakemix). It's a no-brainer to hop over to the studio after being inspired by a visit to Charm City Cakes.

Duff's Cakemix has garnered attention from cake lovers everywhere — even celebrities. Famous clients have included Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian, who designed sharks and pandas on chocolate cupcakes with their kids, People reports. According to E! Online, Britney Spears' former boyfriend went to Duff's Cakemix to decorate her 33rd birthday cake. Finally, the Cakemix team made all the cakes for Katy Perry's "Birthday" music video, according to People, and part of the video was shot at the studio. It sounds like you never know who you'll meet at Duff's Cakemix.