Duff Goldman On Ace Of Taste, Savory Recipes, And His Community - Exclusive Interview

Duff Goldman has become a household name thanks to ten inspiring seasons of his hit Food Network show, "Ace of Cakes." He has also been a judge on "Holiday Baking Championship" and "Spring Baking Championship," along with hosting "Kids Baking Championship." Now, the chef, baker, and cake artist is bringing a new show to Food Network: "Ace of Taste."

While Goldman has become well known for his creativity and intricate dessert designs from his bakery, Charm City Cakes, and his work on baking shows, he also loves to dive in on savory dishes. And "Ace of Taste" is all about bridging that gap.

In an exclusive interview, we sat down with Goldman to learn more about the new show, which premieres on April 24. From the inspiration behind the show and what it was like behind the scenes to Duff's favorite family recipes to cook at home and his ultimate guilty pleasure food, he revealed it all.

Duff Goldman on his new show Ace of Taste

What was the inspiration behind Ace of Taste?

I'm a new dad, and I feel like I've definitely evolved, especially during the pandemic. My wife and I were here at home and I felt myself running our kitchen like I do a professional kitchen. It was really interesting for me to see how to organize a place because I've got a baby to keep fed, myself to keep fed, my wife to keep fed. I've got to run a pantry. I've got a whole thing.

Plus, I do all of these events all the time, so I have a full pastry kitchen in my house. I was really running this place like a kitchen. I wanted to share it with everybody, like, "Hey, here's how I cook for my family. Here's how we do it." We're able to have good food that's nutritious and wonderful and economical. It's cool.

What can viewers expect from the show?

Good stuff, man. Every year when I go film the "Baking Championship" shows, like when you see the "Kids Baking Championship," "Holiday," all those shows, there's a whole kitchen behind the scenes where everybody's doing all this work and there's all these culinary producers that work in there.

Every year, I try to do a couple of huge batches of my chili. It's a thing. Everybody gets excited like, "Oh, Duff's making his chili," because it's really good. I make really good chill. That's one of the episodes.

We had the local fire department, the Topanga Fire Department, come up and I made them a firehouse dinner. I made them chili, and I made them cornbread, and I made them a cobbler. It's more like the regular food that I make as opposed to a big cake with lasers coming out of it, you know?

More attainable for that kind of home cook.

Totally. I break down chili and it's not hard at all. You can make really good chili at home.

Duff Goldman on the importance of community

You mentioned making that chili for the firehouse. Why is it important to share food with others in that way?

My wife and I live in a really small town. It's called Topanga. It's in LA and we filmed the show at the Topanga Community Center. The thing about small towns — everybody's up in your business. Everybody wants to know what's going on. I really wanted the community to be part of this because I wanted it to be like, "Hey, We're doing this big ... international show in this town."

I want everyone to come and be part of it and be like, "Oh, okay. This is really cool." You've got a lot of local people working on the show. I'm using food from our community here, and it's nice to have that sense because, again, now that I'm a new dad, we're a new family, all of a sudden, we're looking at schools, and we're going to be going to summer camp, and all those things. It's like, "Oh, this is great." It's a whole new adventure for me and I feel like this is a nice way to share it with everyone.

And it sounds you're giving back in that way too. You're cooking for firefighters, or you were helping with a bake sale.

Yeah, and I love bake sales. Remember when you were a kid in elementary school and you had a bake sale? It was great. Your mom gave you $5 [and] you got six brownies and a pie. All this stuff. It was great.

What it was like behind the scenes on Ace of Taste

How does it feel to be sharing more savory recipes rather than focusing on desserts? Is it firing you up to do more of that?

Yeah, it's nice. It's allowing me to share a whole other part of myself that most people don't get to see. Whenever I cook savory, people are always like, "Wait, what? You know how to cook? Crazy." It's like, "Yeah, man. I'm a chef. I know how to cook." It's really gratifying to be able to be like, "Hey, check it out. Here's a really good quiche." The guy that makes really good croissants can also make really good quiche.

I think a lot of people will say either you're a baker or you're a cook. You can't be both.

Yeah. It's weird, like, "Wait, you're both?"

You mentioned that the new show is being filmed in the community center there. What was that filming experience like in comparison to "Ace of Cakes"?

It was really chill. That's what's nice because Topanga, we're in the Santa Monica mountains, so we're up on the hill, and you can see the valley all below us, and it's just trees, and it's quiet. It was really nice for everybody to not be in a studio where [there are] no windows, you're never outside. You're in this box, and here, it's like we were in and out. We use natural light in the show. It looks really good. It's a little mountainy because I'm a mountain man. I'm built like a gorilla, so they wanted it to look pretty cozy. It definitely has that vibe. It's nice.

Very cool. I love that you did that so close to home, too.

Yeah, especially in LA. It's nice. Literally, my commute was, I went out my driveway, down my street, take a left, take another left, and I'm right there. I'm three minutes away. It's really great.

Duff's favorite family recipe, ingredients, and chef

Do you have a favorite family recipe that you love to make over and over again, whether it's passed down from your family, or something that's become a tradition with yours now?

It's chicken soup. Living in a Jewish household, it's chicken soup, but mine — it's funny. My mom taught me how to make chicken soup and since I became a chef, I've improved on it. My mom never roasted the bones before. I always roast the bones really dark, and I squeeze them so my chicken soup is almost more like ramen broth. It's cloudy, it's thick, it's fatty. I put a little cayenne in there ... usually, when you're eating chicken soup, you're sick. A little cayenne feels good in your throat. My mom's like, "It's too different. It's dark." It has a lot of flavor. It's really good. I make good chicken soup.

What is one ingredient that you can never live without in the kitchen?

Some kind of spicy Aleppo pepper, or pepper flakes. We don't eat a lot of super spicy food, but [I use it] to bring out flavor. I have four or five different hot sauces in the fridge, but we use them all. It's not a weird collection. One is a habanero, totally different flavor than Cholula.

Who is one chef that you'd love to have cook you dinner?

I'm going to say Maneet Chauhan. She makes Indian food. A friend of mine went to her restaurant and had some leftovers, and I had some leftovers. It was amazing and I was like, "Man, I bet when you're sitting down at the restaurant, this has got to be great."

We're driving out to Knoxville and we're going to stop in Nashville at one of her restaurants and get some food. Those flavors are so wonderful.

Duff on preparing food for his daughter

What are some of the favorite recipes that you like to make at home? What's Josephine diving into right now?

I do all of her vegetables and stuff. We're not really buying smoothies. I'll steam all of her stuff. I have a little steamer and it's really easy. Making good food for babies, it's really not hard.

Plus, with this baby, she will literally eat anything you put in front of her. It doesn't matter. I'm eating a can of sardines, I give her one — chicken, broccoli, but she also loves cheese, and cookies, and crackers.

I have a new book coming out about cookies. I had all these cookies that we had baked, and my wife was holding the baby, and I was on my phone doing something. I look over, and the baby had snuck a cookie. She's like, "Don't look at me, just eating a cookie." I got a picture of her, and ... It was really funny, and she snuck a cookie because she likes them.

Are you able to share more about your new book coming out as well?

It's all cookies. It's 70 different recipes. It's super good cookies for kids, but it's just like my last one. It's for everybody, it's not just for kids. All the recipes are great and there's some crazy ones too. We made moon cakes. We made these cookies called maamoul. They're Persian. Oh, man. We made some really interesting, really cool cookies.

When is that expected to come out?

September, November, something like that. We got one of the guys that used to work for me that was on "Ace of Cakes." Now, he's a photographer, and he actually did all the photography for it. Do you know Jet Tila? Jet's this guy on Food Network and his wife is a really incredible pastry chef. She actually did all the food styling — Ali Tila. It was a lot of family involved.

Duff's guilty pleasure food and go-to sandwich toppings

What's your ultimate, go-to guilty pleasure food? What are you snacking on but don't want to tell anybody?

That's the thing, I never feel guilty about it. Lately, my wife's been really into Donettes.

The powdered ones?

No, she likes the chocolate covered ones. I like ... 7-Eleven nachos. Probably one of my favorite things. That, or like a Big Bite.

Those quick grab [ones with] liquid cheese [and] jalapeños on top?

Yeah. A Big Bite with chili on it [is] one of my favorite things in the world, seriously.

What is your favorite or go-to sandwich toppings? How are you putting together the ultimate sandwich?

I like hots. You know what hots are? The little, tiny hot peppers? I like a good Italian deli sandwich — capicola, pepperoni, salami. I like lettuce, mayonnaise, vinegar and oil, [with] hots, you know? Something a little bit spicy on there.

Duff Goldman's new show, "Ace of Taste," premieres on Food Network on April 24 at 12 p.m. ET. Watch a new episode every Sunday for sweet and savory, family-friendly recipes.