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Wednesday, September 12

Bloghungry Isn't Hungry for Charm City Cakes

I'm a big fan of the blog Bloghungry, urban food and drink from a small town gay boy living in West Hollywood, but I was recently taken aback by his recent post, Ace of Cakes Can Suck It.





[I]t hurts me to watch Duff take a such a tremendous crap on worlds of art and baking. He puts fondant on a piece of Styrofoam and calls it a cake. That might even be okay if the end result wasn't disproportionate and poorly executed, but it always ends up as a crappy cartoon knock off. What kid wants a misshapen flamingo made of metal rods and modeling chocolate for his birthday?!
Now, perhaps I'm biased in my thinking, as I am the official President and Chief Deputy Executive Officer of the Mary Alice Fan Club (applications for officers will be available shortly), and I have tasted the cake at Charm City Cakes-- and taste is apparently his biggest beef with Duff-- but I just don't buy this argument that since the cakes are outrageous and include non-traditional materials, then they aren't cakes.

I wouldn't want Food Network doing a show inside a regular cake bakery. Didn't you see how bad that was with Sugar Rush? How frighteningly unentertaining that was.

While the cakes that Duff and his staff produce don't always appeal to me, I'm constantly amazed with the skill and intricacies the staff is able to replicate with fondant, modeling chocolate and other edible/non-edible materials. If you're going to make me the Titanic in cakeform, complete with drowning violin players, I don't really care that there's a pipe cleaner in there holding it together. Is that not a cake, now? Think about those people who get stupid digital pictures printed on cakes? (Look, it's me on the cake!) There are so many worse things people are doing with cake today.

Just as taste is subjective, the shape and presentation of any food can be seen by some as the most beautiful thing on earth, and at the same time the ugliest "crappy cartoon knock off" by others.


And another thing...

Wedding cakes are a huge portion of Charm City Cakes' business. The personal, intricate cakes that the staff produces are far more meaningful to the groom and groom (ha) than some regular, tiered white cake with roses piped on. AND wedding cakes NEVER taste good, so you might as well get something that looks f-ing awesome!

I do like that his boyfriend makes him watch it in bed, though. I make Jared do the same thing with numerous Food Network shows. He should just be thanking me that I'm not waking him up anymore at 9 a.m. for Dave Lieberman like I used to;-)

So, Bloghungry... I don't agree with you on this one. But I might if you reveal more in your next photo like this one. ;-)

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24 Comments:

At 9/12/2007 11:28 PM , Anonymous bloghungry said...

I'll admit I was a little heated when I posted that and Mary Alice is pretty great, but Food Network and my bf are provoking me with these Ace of Cake Marathons. Sugar Rush was terrible, but I blame the host and the featured pastry chefs. I know we can find more interesting and talented people than that. If you recall, Duff was discovered on that show shooting fireworks out of a cake (also questionably edible). I'm just bored of fondant and corny Alice in Wonderland cakes.

 
At 9/13/2007 1:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duff is a little corny and they all seem surprised and angry when people try to eat their cakes.

 
At 9/13/2007 9:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yall are too critical. We're talking about children's birthday cakes here.

 
At 9/13/2007 12:28 PM , Anonymous Jenny said...

I love Ace of Cakes!!!

 
At 9/13/2007 5:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with bloghungry ...shouldn't part of the criteria be that it's at least mostly edible? I'm going to pay THAT much for a cake that isn't edible? WTH? Yes, I get the art and construction aspect.
How can you call it 'cake' if it isn't edible?
'Cake' has several definitions but they pretty much all involve being something you eat.

For the first time I not only disagree with you Jacob, but I think your argumnent regarding cake makes zero sense.

Duff reminds me too much of Guy who I loathe.

 
At 9/13/2007 7:31 PM , Blogger jacob said...

bh: yes, i hated the original promos for the show with the exploding cake and all that, but I'm pretty sure the majority of cakes sold from CCC are made to be eaten as well as looked at. The show is, naturally, going to focus on the most outrageous and (often) untraditional cakes/sculptures.

anon: yeah, i think it's best if the staff leaves before everyone starts devouring their hours of work.

anon: just cake, yes. it's a big deal when they're so expensive, but it still should be taken very lightly.

jenny: :-)

anon: we should probably remember that the cakes that end up incorporating non-edible elements are most likely asked for the client. If the design requested requires non-edible elements to work, then this is mentioned to them at the time of the order or during the construction.

I don't think you're going to walk in to CCC, ask for a nice chocolate cake, only to get a fondant covered basketball. Many of the cakes I saw in their weddings book were very traditional and all cake. Of course, these don't make the show, but that's a good portion of any baker's business. Not everyone is walking out with a firework-infused cake and if they are it's because they want that! ;-)

I do agree with you about Guy.

 
At 9/14/2007 1:52 PM , Anonymous Ben said...

RE: CCC, I like the show and they all seem like nice people, but the premise is really wearing thin for my taste.

And, yeah, I kind of assumed the mostly non-edible cakes were the ones featured on the show.

Glad someone else feels the same way about Guy Fieri. He just grates on me. I watched his season of "NFNS" and, frankly, can't remember if he bugged me this much. He comes off as condescending and a bit of a d*ckwad, like he'd rather be anywhere but there.

And while I'm complaining, I am officially over Alton Brown. He needs to go away for a good long while. Food Network is worse than Bravo about beating a good thing to death

Ah, dang, I miss Sandra Pinckney, Marc Silverstein and Jill Cordes.

-- Ben

 
At 9/14/2007 3:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacob- TY for responding, you are so diplomatic. Whether I agree with you on things or not, your blog is always a pleasure to read.

 
At 9/14/2007 4:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

[Sigh] What an uninspired, unintelligent and misinformed post. Didn't the person who ordered the "cake" request that Charm City make them a non-edible display cake? The only thing Duff and the Charm City crowd is guilty of is giving one of their customers exactly what they wanted. Arent' display cakes common in the wedding cake industry? Maybe do a little research before you tell someone to "suck it." Lame...

 
At 9/15/2007 9:21 AM , Blogger RD said...

My main problem with Ace of Cakes is that it airs against Burn Notice. I'd watch Ace of Cakes, but Burn Notice taught me how to use cake fondant as an explosive and not as icing.

 
At 9/16/2007 2:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Display cakes are one thing, but if you have a show on the Food Network called Ace of Cakes there should be more cake to show for it. I don't think it is too much to ask for to see some edible cakes on the show. I agree with BH.

 
At 9/17/2007 10:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhh, agree all you want, but do you even watch the show? Of the over 100s of cakes featured on the show, 99 percent of them ARE edible.

The show is about a bakery. Bakeries provide display cakes. Ace of Cakes shows what, one or two display cakes that their customers ask for? How can any reasonable person say the show doesn't feature edible makes when 99 percent of the time that's exactly what they do.

I think for ANY show to have longevity, it needs to show all aspects of the business it's featuring - be it display cakes, the plumbing, dealing with vendors, running a small business, etc. It's what makes Ace of Cakes interesting, and inspiring for those of us who want a window into this world.

Yes, there will always be cool cakes to look at and eat, but what ELSE goes into running a successful business?

 
At 9/17/2007 10:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhh, agree all you want, but do you even watch the show? Of the over 100s of cakes featured on the show, 99 percent of them ARE edible.

The show is about a bakery. Bakeries provide display cakes. Ace of Cakes shows what, one or two display cakes that their customers ask for? How can any reasonable person say the show doesn't feature edible makes when 99 percent of the time that's exactly what they do.

I think for ANY show to have longevity, it needs to show all aspects of the business it's featuring - be it display cakes, the plumbing, dealing with vendors, running a small business, etc. It's what makes Ace of Cakes interesting, and inspiring for those of us who want a window into this world.

Yes, there will always be cool cakes to look at and eat, but what ELSE goes into running a successful business?

 
At 9/17/2007 2:23 PM , Anonymous Clutchfan74 said...

While entitled to an opinion, I have to say that Bloghungry is a bit off base here--not to mention misinformed. I have to also wonder-if since Bh takes such issue with what Duff and his team are doing if bh could do any better? Yes their are display cakes, but in case bh missed the memo, Duff is a trained pastry chef, something that would have been pointless to invest the time and energy if his intent was having a "bakery" where he isn't going to make cakes that are edible. What you see on the show is obviously only a fraction of what art they creat on a daily basis. Edible or not, some of that stuff is just damn awesome! These people are truly artists, that are using their skills in what is probably for them a less than traditional medium, and they can turn out some truly amazing stuff---even if it may seem out of the ordinary for your average bakery. I think that's what makes Duff and crew so in demand, as well as for entertaining TV for those that want to watch.

 
At 9/17/2007 5:57 PM , Anonymous Mrs. L said...

Just a reminder that if they do a display cake that isn't edible, they usually take some sheet cakes to cut up and serve to the guests so it's not like people are paying for a cake and going hungry.
And as an FYI, my wedding cake tasted awesome, something none of us were expecting, we considered it a wedding bonus (though it wasn't done by Charm City :)

 
At 9/19/2007 11:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the crotch guy. If you have a show on the Food Network about the art of cake making you should have more cake to show for it. Enough of the the fondant and modeling chocolate on balsa wood or whatever. You may as well buy a sculpture and serve sheet cake out of the backroom if that is what you want. Maybe Ace of Cakes should move to HGTV in the mix of those craft shows. Do they actually make the sheet cake that is served with display cakes or is that something you would need to buy at another bakery?

 
At 9/20/2007 1:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course they make sheet cake - it's just not featured on the show because sheet cakes are traditionally boring and not worth of putting on tv every week.

 
At 10/22/2007 2:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a recent episode they made a showpiece of an elephant for a zoo fundraiser. (I'm pretty sure this is the same fundraiser for which they made the flamingo showpiece in a previous season.) Underneath the fondant, the elephant was made of wood and styrofoam. Duff explained that the zoo wanted it that way, because it would be unsettling for guests at the zoo to see an elephant being carved up for their enjoyment. Sheet cakes were provided to feed the guests, all part of the contracted service.

I think the show often focuses so much on one or two elaborate showpieces that it's easy for a casual viewer to miss the beautiful, if somewhat more traditional tiered cakes being decorated in the background.

 
At 3/10/2008 7:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, dont complain because that some of their cakes arent made out of cake. They are spose to be that way because that is the way the client wants it. If you'd actually watch the show you would have picked up on that. Look on Charm City's website there are beautiful cakes on there so until you have a bombing bussiness like Duff's don't complain

 
At 5/19/2008 12:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been watching Duff and his crew for quite some time and find the show very helpful. I've been baking/decorating for over 20 years and have come up with some crazy cakes of my own. So he uses a lot of foam BUT did you ever realize the foam is used to find the right height and dimention before the cake is put together? When the cakes are being iced, don't you see the crumbs in the icing or are you that blind? I use cardboard and wood to get the right shape and height for my cakes before I bake them, that way I can see how they'll look before I start. What they do at Charm City is fantastic and crazy but I feel the cakes they produce are phanominal. Did you see the Hogwarts cake they did? That was about 99% cake and that was a heck of a lot of work put into that. The people that were at the premere didn't seem to be eating foam, it looked like cake to me.It sounds to me you're jealous because you can't do what they do so just hang it up ......try learning how the art of cake making is done, then you'll understand the methods used to make the perfect cake......I've had hundreds of friends and family ask me all the time how do I do that? I made a cake for my son right before he went into the ARMY with flashing lights and smoke coming out of the turret of the tank and everyone couldn't believe it. No one wanted to cut that cake. I made a fire engine for my other son whose a volunteer firefighter that had a siren on the top of it and working red and white lights built into the cake using tiny LED lights. Those were not easy cakes to make and everyone enjoyed evey bite...my husband gets involved in almost every cake I make. He helps with the design and build of each cake that comes out of my home, including the wedding cakes.And he never complains, he just wants to know where I come up with the crazy ideas.So don't mock the industry unless you're a part of it...try going to the free seminars at your local bakery or college and try this for yourself and you'll see, it's not as easy as it looks...

 
At 5/26/2008 8:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never watched the show, never tried the cake, just happened to come across your blog in a Google search.

I feel the need to warn any of you that are considering visiting Charm City Cakes that the staff of this establishment may very well call the cops on you. No joke- it happened to me last week! Went to take some pictures in front of the bakery with a friend who's a fan that was in town, tried to see some cakes through the windows, the usual touristy stuff. They asked us to leave, so we did, but I was then followed and pulled over by FIVE police cars plus a police van. Cops eventually let us leave, but leave it to reality TV folks to have a hugely warped sense of reality; they claimed we were committing attempted burglary! Just wanted to give potential visitors a heads up.

 
At 1/26/2009 8:46 AM , Blogger Samantha Hala said...

Ihave just come across this blog, I thought I was the only one that watches ACE OF CAKES!! I LOVE IT, AS IT STIMULATES MY CREATIVE SIDE for my own little cake company I have just started in England, London called Nylah's cakes after my sweet daughters name. The creations are amazing I know I could,nt do any thing that amazing. I do wonder what Duff's cakes do taste like thou, but I guess the cake taste does have to be amazing, after all it is to be eaten!! after all that hard creative work!.

 
At 7/17/2011 9:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd rather watch cake boss and watch the real creative flare come across with EDIBLE cakes along side his family have real personality - get humbug listening to duff's laugh over and over ...

 
At 8/03/2011 2:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duff's design our ugly,but the other cakes have good design...Charm City cakes can't replicate humans and animals,so they just turn it to cartoony,I hate the cake they make for a hunter,a deer with an ugly face and small body,,well WTH is that,even a K9 who turns bulky and a birthday cake for Duff's father,he did'nt work hard for his father's cake it's cake is like just a plane or jet but cartoony,and so cheap they use cardboards and paintings to a cake,and it was so ugly

 

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