Quick Stats: Duff Goldman, cake maker and chef
Daily Driver: 2010 Ford F-150 (Duff's rating: 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Los Angeles to Sonoma Raceway
Car he learned to drive in: 1968 Ford Mustang
First car bought: 1972 VW Super Beetle
Celebrity cake maker Duff Goldman recently made news as the official inaugural cake maker for President Obama's Commander-In-Chief Ball. The First Family, more specifically Sasha and Malia, are reportedly big fans of Goldman.
Chances are you know Goldman from his popular show "Ace of Cakes," which was on the Food Network for about a decade. But what you may not know is that he's also a renaissance man of sorts. Not only is this celebrity chef and cake maker a rock star in the foodie world, but he's also a graffiti artist, metal sculptor, and bass player for indie band Sand Ox and Elvis tribute band Danger Ace.
Beyond his cake-making empire, he's also a self-professed gearhead. He has roots in the Motor City, where his dad worked at GM.
Motor Trend caught up with Goldman at his new location on trendy Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood called Cakemix and Charm City Cakes West. He recently expanded here and now spends his time between Los Angeles and Baltimore, where his original Charm City Cakes is and where the show was shot.
"I am a freakish gearhead," he says, sitting at a table in Cakemix, which allows people to decorate their own cakes and cupcakes. "I will take your car apart and put it back together. I can totally do that."
Goldman's public appeal is apparent, as he's extremely affable in person. After just one afternoon, you feel like he's your best friend. You want to pull up a chair, have one of the tasty cupcakes he sells, and hang out for hours kibitzing about the things gearheads love -- cars, taking apart cars, California racetracks, and that signature Ducati sound.
These days Goldman's daily driver in Los Angeles is either his 2010 Ford F-150 or Ducati Monster 1100S.
2010 Ford F-150
"The only reason I'm giving it an 8.5 is because of gas," Goldman says. "It uses a lot of gas. The other thing too, the gas tank is so big that when I fill up the tank, because gas is so expensive, I have to go to a different gas station to actually fill it up. Most gas stations will only let you pump $100 worth of gas. I want to fill it up. Especially on a road trip, because stopping for gas takes time. It's a big ass thing. But I don't have to fill it up that much." It costs him about $130 to fill up.
But despite the gas issue, Goldman loves the F-150. "That is the best road-tripping vehicle I have ever had in my life, and I road trip like a motherf--ker." And he should know. He road trips everywhere. "I've road tripped all over the U.S. I've probably driven by myself east to west, west to east at least 12 times," he says. "The whole country and then chunks of it, for fun, for work, for everything. I love to drive. Seriously, a road trip in that is the best truck."
When he moved to Los Angeles, he drove this F-150 from Baltimore, loading up all his stuff in the back. He wasn't worried about anyone stealing his stuff during the trip. "A lot of times people just don't mess with stuff," he says. "I sort of think like a criminal. I was a graffiti artist and I would go to Braintree [Massachusetts], because Braintree was where they kept the trains." He's never lost that graffiti artist mind-frame, he points out.
He also transports his Ducati Monster 1100S in the F-150 when he's going to Sonoma Raceway for track days.
2010 Ducati Monster 1100S
"I love it. I love Ducatis. Mine has a dry clutch. Everyone's like, 'What's wrong with your bike?' I'm like, 'Nothing.''' He says this last word with relish, then lets out a big laugh. He has two more Ducatis back home in Baltimore.
2010 Ducati Sport Classic GT 1000
"That is the best road-tripping motorcycle I've ever owned," Goldman says. "It's awesome. When I first bought that bike, I broke it in in a couple days. I took four days off and I drove all over Pennsylvania. I drove from Baltimore. All over. Just for fun. Just drove around. I had a backpack, a wallet, a GPS, my charger, and nothing else." And he stayed at random motels.
2009 Ducati Monster 696
The Monster is his daily driver back in Baltimore. It was a very nice tip given by a satisfied client for a cake he made. He doesn't give it a perfect 10 because "it's not my 1100," he says.
Car he learned to drive in
Cars are in his blood. Goldman was born in Detroit, where his dad was an economist for GM and used to play racquetball with John DeLorean. "So we had some awesome stuff. We had all kinds of cars growing up. We had one of everything," he says.
His dad put himself through college reselling cars he bought and fixed. "He would get it, fix it up, sell it," Goldman says. "He put himself through college buying Rolls-Royces, fixing them, and selling them. He would buy them in England, ship them over here, he went to UCLA, fix them up - all the steering wheels were on the right-hand side. He would sell them here and make a ton of money."
Goldman grew up in Sandwich, Massachusetts, where he learned how to drive in his friend's 1968 Ford Mustang. While he was a hockey player in high school, he was also busy rebuilding cars. At 16, he rebuilt the Mustang, which had a 200-cubic-inch straight six-cylinder engine.
To buy his first car, he saved up money from working at Sandwich Pizza and at a diner called the East Sandwich Grill as well as his job as a roofer and framer.
First car bought
He saved up enough money to buy a manual-equipped 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle. "I bought that for $500 from some lady," he says. "It was on the beach, it was all rusted out, and I had to duct tape the floor back together. That's how I taught myself how to weld."
He promptly rebuilt the entire car. "It was white and shitty and gross," he recalls. "I fixed it, fixed the floor, rebuilt the engine, it was that flat-four. I could literally pick it up, put it on my table and work on it. Took all the chrome off, painted the whole thing black. Painted all the chrome hot pink, and then put a kickin' system in there. I had such a loud stereo in my Bug that the lights would dim with the bass. It was amazing! It was the best."
He also added some fun things to the Beetle. "My Bug had an 8-ball shifter," he says, with a grin. "I was kind of a delinquent as a kid and there was a guy who had a Jaguar -- this was the early '90s -- and there was the big Jaguar symbol and I ripped it off his hood and I put it on the Bug."
Unfortunately, the VW got totaled when he wasn't paying attention while making a left turn and he hit an oncoming car.
Goldman has rebuilt his share of cars besides his Beetle back in high school. Some belonged to friends. "I built a '67 Mustang that was a 289 that was a convertible and there were only a couple of these made. It had a power roof," he recalls. "The '68 Mustang was my friend Greg's. Then he totaled that. The '67 was also his and he still has it."
Goldman paid a total of $200 for a 1978 and a 1979 Jeep Grand Wagoneer for a project car. "One had no motor and one had no transmission. I took the transmission out of the '78 and put it in the '79, parted out the '78, got rid of it. The '79 used way too much gas, so I had to get rid of that, because I'm in high school and you don't have the kind of money to fill up a '79 Jeep Grand Wagoneer."
But it was fun while he did drive the finished Jeep Wagoneer. "They're awesome," he says. "I sold it to this guy who put a plow on the front, which was great. With the money I made from that, a friend of mine gave me an '81 Rabbit."
1981 Volkswagen Rabbit
The 1981 VW Rabbit, which had a crank sunroof, was free. "The Rabbit was sitting behind the sewage plant, at the Dept. of Public Works in Sandwich. Somebody abandoned it. A friend of mine was like, 'Hey, my dad works at the plant. If you want, have it towed to your house."'
He poured in the money he made selling the Jeep.
"I had to totally redo the electrical system. VWs didn't have an alternator. It had a generator and it had this thing called a voltage regulator and it took me six months to figure out what was wrong with this car," he says. "It was this little stupid-ass $50 part. I could not get this car to work and I finally did because it was this stupid voltage regulator that was busted."
He drove the Rabbit in college at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. "My dad said here's the deal: 'I don't want you to have a car your freshmen year because if you have a car, you'll leave, you won't stay on campus and go to class.' So he made me a deal, said 'If you sell that car, I'll buy you a new car if you get a 3.5.'"
First semester Goldman got a 3.48 GPA, just short of 3.5. "I'm like, 'Dad, Come on - 3.48!' He's like, 'The deal was a 3.5.'" The next semester he made the cut and his dad bought him a white two-seater 1994 Honda CR-X. "And I loved this car. I loved it, man."
1962 Chevrolet Corvette
Several years ago, Goldman's dad bought a 1962 Corvette. "It's this car that he wanted his whole life," he says. "This is his dream car. When he was in high school, like the coolest kid had the '62 'Vette. So he buys one and then realizes that he's an old man and he can't drive this thing anymore. There's no power steering. They're built on a 1940 truck frame. The technology is from 1940. So these things are not comfortable."
So his dad gave the car to him. "He says, 'Here, you drive it, because I know how to take care of cars,'" Goldman says. He took the car apart and began working on it. "The only thing I didn't do was the transmission. I sent it out to have somebody do it."
But when he recently moved to Los Angeles and had the Corvette shipped, it was stolen from his brother's driveway. "They dropped it off at my brother's house," he says. "I was in Canada when they dropped it off. And somebody f--king lifted that shit!"
Goldman gave us a photo of the black Corvette with red interior, in case anyone reading this happens to see it.
Favorite road trip
Locally, Goldman loves riding his Ducati to visit his brother in the Valley from the Westside, by taking Sepulveda Boulevard. "That's a good road for a motorcycle," he says. "There's something about going to my brother's house, going to see my brother and I know that road really well. One of the cool things about Sepulveda is that when it's really hot in the Valley and you come up and you go through that tunnel, right when you get out of that tunnel, it drops like 30 degrees in an instant."
He's road tripped so many times, that he has many favorite drives. One drive is Highway One from Los Angeles to Sonoma, because of the anticipation of going to a track day at Sonoma Raceway, formerly called Infineon and Sears Point.
Although he prefers to ride his motorcycle alone, he often goes to track days with fellow chef Lorenzo Logoreci, owner of Allegro Romano in San Francisco. "That's the thing about riding. I don't do it with people. I don't hang out with people who ride motorcycles," he says.
Goldman riffs about another favorite strip of road locally that he enjoys, but only late at night. "You know what I love too? I love late night on Santa Monica Boulevard. I live on the west side, so going that way at 10, 11, or midnight, I'll get a buck 70 in front of the Mormon Temple."
Although he doesn't recommend anyone drive 170 mph on what is normally a congested street, he says he only does it when there's no one around. "It's actually better when there are a few cars on the road because you get an idea for how fast you're going," he says.
Goldman doesn't like straightaways when it comes to racetracks. He prefers the more technical courses. "When you go to Sears Point, the fastest you're going to go is like 70. Maybe 110. Like Willow, how fast are you going to go on Streets of Willow? What's awesome is sitting like this and wondering if my shoulder's going to hit the road. That kicks ass," he says leaning to the side, and then starts to laugh.
Cakemix and Charm City Cakes West
Cakemix is a bakery and DIY cake shop in West Hollywood where people can design their own cakes and cupcakes. If you just want to buy cakes and cupcakes already decorated by the talented people here, you can do that also. When he's in town, Goldman is often at the shop and will pose with fans for photos, as we noticed during our visit.
In the hallway, Goldman spray-painted the word "Cakemix" and drew a colorful cake and cupcake in his graffiti art style. Charm City Cakes West is next door to Cakemix. This is where all the unusual custom cakes are made, just like at the original Charm City Cakes.