Baked 

Duff Goldman is a great big loser. And so far that's working out pretty well for him. Goldman, the graffiti artist, bass player, entrepreneur, and star of the Food Network's bakery-based reality show Ace of Cakes, didn't get where he is today by being a winner. His first cake-decorating competition was a disaster that resulted in a last-place finish. The chubby and cherubic Goldman was covered in chocolate and tracking corn starch everywhere. Even though the judges — who were also scouts for the Food Network — weren't all that impressed by his performance, they were intrigued by his use of belt sanders, arc welders, and other unusual tools. That's how Goldman's loss resulted in one of the Food Network's most popular shows.

Goldman, who keeps an apartment above his Baltimore business, Charm City Cakes, once said that the best things about living where you work are not having to deal with a commute and not having to shower. No other food-service professional could confess such ambivalence toward hygiene and make it seem attractive. Of course, Charm City Cakes isn't staffed by traditional food-service professionals; it's operated by a tattooed crew of artists, architects, and oddballs who've built fondant-covered marvels that look like spaceships, sports stadiums, dinosaurs, Elvis, and even a rack of ribs.

Ace of Cakes fans can catch Goldman at the Southern Home, Garden & Gourmet Expo where he'll be judging a "cake-off" and making appearances on the Celebrity Stage on Saturday, January 16th, and Sunday, January 17th, at Agricenter International. Losers of the cake-off are by no means guaranteed their own TV show, but it could happen.

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