Celebrities are among the fans of Duff’s CakeMix in LA, the new do-it-yourself cake decorating franchise launched by famed Ace of Cakes baker Duff Goldman. They include Weird Al Yankovic, Victoria Beckham, Justin Bieber and Chrissy Teigen, Goldman says.
But her favorite guests are children, who come to Duff’s CakeMix for birthday parties. Customers purchase a pre-baked cake, then choose one of 150 cards describing how to make a unicorn or dragon or other designs, or they can select their own ingredients and create whatever they want.
Goldman is also the host of Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship. “It’s wonderful to see kids who are really passionate about baking,” Duffman said of the show. “When a 10-year-old puts cookies in the oven and 12 minutes later pulls them out and has perfect cookies, their sense of pride is on their faces. I’m right there with them.”
At Baltimore-based Goldman’s Charm City Cakes Bakery, “we bake 10, 12 cakes a week,” and its success is one of the reasons Goldman decided to franchise Duff’s CakeMix. “It fills me with such pride to know that I started a business, and 20 years later it’s still here, and it’s grown, and it’s bigger and better. I love it, and I think by franchising you really help people become entrepreneurs,” he said.
“The nice thing about CakeMix is that it’s not like a typical bakery or restaurant where there are all these nonsensical things that can ruin your business through no fault of yours,” he said. . “You don’t have to have a degree in cooking, you just have to have a degree in entertainment.”
Pamela Fazio is the brand’s first CEO and former president of Kahala Brands. “I was in charge of the pre-due diligence, the pre-acquisition process. We were acquiring a business every nine months,” she said. “I would run this brand for about a year, franchise it, and move on to the next one.”
At Duff’s CakeMix, she’s been busy putting systems in place. “We redid all the operations manuals. We created a new store opening manual. We put all the marketing systems in place for grand openings,” she said as she ticked off more items.
“I reformulated our supply chain and our national partnership with Sysco Foods, which we also did for Canada. I created a partnership with a head of the CIA”, the Culinary Institute of America, for a cake recipe. The cakes are made by an outside company, then frozen and distributed to stores by Sysco.
She enjoys her partnership with Goldman. “He’s been amazing,” she said. “If you watch Food Network, do you think they can really be like that all the time? But the one thing I liked about him from day one was really his personality. The look on their face, that’s really why he really created it for a fun environment. It’s easy to support that, isn’t it?”
Goldman returns the compliment. “She knows this stuff. It was a great find,” he said of Fazio. The investment cost for Duff’s CakeMix ranges from $257,000 to $747,000.
Goldman’s obsession with baking dates back to his first job in the food industry in college, baking cornbread and cookies. “It was every day for two years straight, that’s all I did. I got really good at cookies, I got really good at cornbread. And after a while , when you do the same thing over and over and over again, you start noticing little things”, like putting eggs first inhibits protein development in the flour, so you get more tender cornbread .
“Weird things like that. It was fascinating to me. I wonder why? So I started reading about it. I asked the chef. She said, you got a head for that, you should go to baking school.” He did, and went on to star in Ace of Cakes for 10 seasons and 115 episodes.
There he shaped cakes with drills and blowtorches, and built cakes that took up to 29 hours. Favorites include a seven-tier wedding cake tilted Dr. Seuss-style at a near-perfect replica of Wrigley Field, and many more.
Read about Jars by Fabio Viviani, another celebrity chef supporting a new franchise.