Duff Goldman, the rock 'n' roll chef of
, wants to set the record straight about the announcement last week that "Ace of Cakes" will be ending its long run on the Food Network early next year.
"People say to me, like, 'Oh, man, I hear you got canceled. I feel sorry for you.' And I'm, like, 'No, not really. I'm actually going to have time to make a lot more money,'" he says laughing. "Don't anybody feel sorry for me."
The 35-year-old rock musician, pastry chef and entrepreneur who rose to reality-TV fame almost overnight when "Ace of Cakes" debuted 41/2 years ago, says he has three new TV shows in development, and one of them involves him moving to Los Angeles in February to open a West Coast version of Charm City Cakes in June.
He's not abandoning his beloved Baltimore home for the sunshine and glitter of Hollywood. He's just "expanding" the brand, as they say in the business.
"Charm City Cakes is still my anchor," he says of his Baltimore base on Remington Avenue. "It's going to be here forever. It's not going anywhere. The people that you know are not going anywhere. The Los Angeles move is just going to allow us to serve the country more efficiently."
Goldman spoke by phone from the road "somewhere in the mountains" last week as he drove a cake that cost "six figures" to Arizona. That's another thing he wants to make sure folks understand: The Baltimore business that bakes those lucrative cakes is alive and well.
"Charm City Cakes is definitely ready to be a regular bakery again," he says. "The TV cameras are gone, but we're still a fully functioning, amazing cake shop. We still do all the cakes that people were seeing [on TV]. We're just not being filmed anymore â€” at least for the time being."
Goldman's unhappy that the news of the end of "Ace of Cakes" first appeared as an anonymously sourced item on the celebrity website TMZ last Friday. The Baltimore Sun confirmed the news with a Food Network executive later that day.
"I just think it's too bad that it came out on TMZ," he says. "And coming out that way gave it a negative connotation. Look, the network was the first one to bring up the topic of ending the show, but this was a mutual decision. And I think it's really cool that we're going out on a high note while we still have some respectability in a genre that is saturated with stupid people yelling at each other."
Goldman says he believes the "genre of cake television" was "cheapened by TLC" and other channels that chased the success of "Ace of Cakes" with shows like "Cake Boss," a low-rent, New Jersey imitation.
"Our show was never like that," Goldman says. "We were never negative. We never yelled at each other. We're a group of friends who really love each other. And we were able to keep that for so long. The rest of them, they're so fake, they're so set-up, it's just bad television. Cake television is pretty catty, pretty mean. So we'll let the catty people have it. We'll move on."
One of the more immediate moves involves the West Coast operation he is about to launch and the show he is developing that will chronicle the process. It's a big project with him moving to Los Angeles in February, and then some of the staff from Baltimore coming out to help train the West Coast employees. And all of it is scheduled to be up and running by June.
"I'm excited about it, because it's, like, 'Can I really do this?' " he says. "I mean, did I just get lucky [with Charm City Cakes]? Or do I really know how to run a business?"
As potentially engaging as the concept sounds, it is Goldman's TV persona that the Food Network is banking on. The keys to that persona are passion, energy and lack of pretense â€” and unlike many reality TV performers, Goldman seems to understand exactly what makes him click on-camera.
"I'm not going to sit here and pretend, like, 'Aw shucks, geez,' " the former graffiti artist says. "I do know that people see something they like. But I think the biggest thing about that is that it's not really any kind of innate thing that I have. I think it's just the fact that I'm very passionate about food. If somebody put me on a show about laying asphalt, I don't think I'd be nearly as engaging. You know what I mean?"
Goldman describes the show about the startup in Los Angeles as "basically kind of a continuation of Ace of Cakes," which should make longtime Food Network fans happy. He is not yet ready to talk about the other two series he's working on.
"We're doing a couple of other things out in L.A. that are really cool, but I'm not allowed to talk about them," he says.
"The biggest thing about all of this is that it's all a crapshoot," Goldman says. "By February, we'll have three shows in development, and the Food Network might want all three â€” and they might want none of them. They like all three ideas. But ultimately at the end, they might not like any of them once they actually see them. And then we'll have to see what we want to do."
The 1997 University of Maryland, Baltimore County graduate says even if the Food Network picks up none of the series, he will still be busy managing the international empire "Ace of Cakes" has helped him create out of his Baltimore shop.
"If I'm not on TV for a little while, that's totally OK," Goldman says. "I have a lot of stuff to occupy my time. I'm still on the lecture circuit. I probably do one or two speaking engagements a week. We travel all over the country talking to colleges, talking to different groups. I still have a lot of licensing agreements â€” and that's just getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I have products in Michaels, Walmart, grocery stores, Target, Party City."
And there is still the last season of "Ace" that starts in January. Goldman says he thinks the final episode will involve a cake Charm City baked for the 25th anniversary of the feature film "Back to the Future."
"We talked about how do we do this, when do we want to do this, what do we want our last big hurrah to be," Goldman says, recounting what he describes as a year's worth of conversations with the Food Network as to how to end "Ace" and launch new shows for him on the cable channel.
"How do we end this incredible thing that we've been able to create? How do we keep its integrity and not start getting silly, and not jump the shark and not do all these stupid things that other shows are doing. I think we have kept our integrity â€” we've found a way to end it and still be standing."