The Ace of Cakes is slimming down. Though he hasn't addressed… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
Duff Goldman quite literally ate his way across America to film the series "Sugar High" last year — from sea to sugary sea. And we aren't talking Hollywood smoke-and-mirrors eating, where it looks like someone is tasting something but is really spitting it into an off-camera bucket. It was real — all too real, as Goldman now realizes.
Bread pudding. S'mores. Apple strudel.
Mousse. Maple bacon doughnuts.
Bananas Foster. Fried dough. Cookies. Pie.
"I was literally eating dessert all day, every day, for seven weeks straight," he says, explaining how he "blew up," gaining no less than 30 pounds, though he was too depressed to get on the scale to see an actual number. "I was doing nothing but traveling and eating crap. Nonstop eating garbage over and over and over and over for the camera. And there are ways to do that, to make sure the camera gets the shot you need. But my problem is: I would eat when the cameras were off, too. It was what I love most in the world. Good food. Butter and sugar and fat and pork."
Now, the owner of Remington's Charm City Cakes is attempting to sweat and diet it all off — that and then some.
On television, Goldman comes across as a good-time guy, with the untucked shirts, the teenage affect. So it might be hard for fans to accept that this caricature of conviviality suddenly cares about his waistline.
But Goldman not only cares — deeply — he's committed to getting in shape, committed in the same deadly serious workaholic way that helped turn the Baltimore baker into a national commodity.
He's working out intensely almost every day of the week.
His diet has become extremely spartan.
And if anyone has a problem with it, the former "Ace of Cakes" star doesn't care. Even though the last thing he wants is to be called a hypocrite — the guy who made his name in cake and now won't eat it, too.
"This is a journey that I've only been on for a little while," he says. "I'm not trying to pass myself off as anything other than a fat dude who doesn't want to be as fat as I am.
"I'm doing this for me."
Goldman, 37, was never slim. He jokes that heredity fated him to be short and stout, "a Russian farmer." Chunky but athletic, as a kid, he'd lift weights at his father's gym, then go home and chug a half-gallon of milk. In high school he played lacrosse and football and suited up for the hockey team at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
It was after culinary school, he figures, when he began to let his body really slip.
Long hours in the kitchen, surrounded by deliciousness, too exhausted at the end of the day to even think about a gym — pounds piled on.
"My life just got taken over by my cooking," he says. "If you don't have any discipline, which I don't, you can make 10 gallons of chocolate mousse, take a spoonful and another and another, and you won't realize you've eaten like five servings of it. It's just what you do."
Still, his career skyrocketing, none of this struck him as a problem until earlier this year. Coming down from Food Network's "Sugar High," trying to get Charm City Cakes West off the ground in Los Angeles, he just didn't feel good.
He'd splurged on a Zegna blazer that he wanted to wear for a publicity tour, and it didn't fit anymore. He cringed when he watched "Sugar High" and saw himself looking paunchy on his motorcycle. He had no energy.
"I was kind of lethargic and I didn't feel like doing much," he says. "I go home and sit on the couch and watch TV. I didn't want to do that anymore. I missed the feeling of being in shape."
And without any further epiphany, he got up from the sofa and took a ride to Venice.
Building a body
When Goldman decided to change his ways, he didn't just join a gym; he joined the hub for serious bodybuilders in Southern California, the Gold's in Venice Beach. And he didn't just hire any trainer; he chose the one they said was "hard core," the one who looks and sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his "Pumping Iron" days.
Not that Goldman exactly needed the discount, but he finagled a free membership after promising the manager a complimentary wedding cake.
"I wanted to go where all the people who are really motivated to be super fitness people go," he says. "All those crazy dudes with huge veins and giant muscles. I was surprised how many of them know who I am and know what I do. I'm almost like porn for those guys."
He has seen actor Lou Ferrigno there and gleefully thought to himself, "Wow, the Incredible Hulk is using the same dumbbells."
If the gym has a flaw in Goldman's book, it's that when he leaves his morning workout to get to his bakery on Melrose, he has to run the fast-food gantlet that is Venice, which seems to be peddling every mouth-watering burger known to man.
"I love burgers," he sighs. "And I love crap burgers."