Most celebrity chefs endorse food products, cookware, or table furnishings. Not Duff Goldman. Think of him like a grown up kid. His Food Network reality show, Ace of Cakes, is all about the fun, surprise, and challenges of making art out of cake. Super Chef caught up with Duff in the midst of filming Season 8 of Ace of Cakes. He told Super Chef that he wanted his first product to be a toy. The toy he chose was the Girl Gourmet Cake Bakery.
Super Chef has already reviewed the Girl Gourmet Cup Cake Maker (see Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker). It is a nifty toy that lets kids make and then decorate cupcakes that are gluten-free and tasty –at least kids think so.
The Cake Bakery takes an Ace of Cakes spin on small layer cakes. Kids make cake batter by adding water to a dry mix. They cook the batter in the microwave in 30 seconds. Then they make fondant from another mix. They can drape the two-layer mini-cake with fondant, and then decorate it further on a spinning-decorating turntable with an air powered gel decorator gun.
Super Chef invited an aspiring foodie kid to try out the Cake Bakery. The pastel blue and pink – and the Girl Gourmet name – won’t stop a boy from enjoying the toy. It turns out to be fun and challenging to mix the batter, get it into the two layer molds, and set the mold into the microwave container. It is even more fun to make the fondant, kneading and rolling it out on the non-stick mat. It is tricky getting the fondant onto the cake in one piece – but that’s part of the learning curve. The toy doesn’t do everything – foodie kids have to figure out for themselves how they want to decorate their cake, what fondant flavor goes best with chocolate cake, and how to mend the cracks that form. They have to master the turntable, figure out where to put the white gel, and sprinkles.
The point is that there are so many variations – they won’t come out with a cookie cutter cake that looks like some variation of a cake on the box. They use their imagination – and then eat the results. The only glitch: the set that Super Chef‘s assistant played with only had two packets of cake and four packets of fondant – not nearly enough to get proficient.
Super Chef turned to Duff Goldman for more insight about the toy:
Super Chef: How did you get involved with the Cake Bakery?
Duff Goldman: I told my agents we should get involve with licenses, ‘I want toys’ and they said, ‘No, you should do chef stuff.’ ‘I want toys.’ They put the word out, and Jakks came to us to team up. They had the idea of the cake bakery. They kind of wanted a tricked out Easy-Bake Oven. It isn’t fair to call it that, it is so much more. With the Easy-Bake, you cook with a light bulb, you burn yourself – it’s a big pain and it’s gross. I wanted something that works, something that the kids will play with and learn from and practice hand eye co-ordination. Eventually they will coordinate left and right hand, which is really cool. The tools are really miniature versions of tools we use, the fondant rolling mat, the texture mats – everything you need to make a two-tiered cake. Kids will learn subtractive versus additive sculpture, that is etched in rather then add on.
We went back and forth, all this crazy idea, this is what is feasible what isn’t.
We had to hit a price point, which is the biggest thing hampering the toy.
Super Chef: So this toy appealed to you because it doesn’t do everything for the child, they have to figure it out?
Duff Goldman: It is like a video game. At first you don’t know the controls, but as you play with it, and work with it, you understand what this thing is, what it can do.
Super Chef: When did you get involved?
Duff Goldman: About 14 months ago out in California, we sat down with Jakks and went through item by item. They were keen on my input. I told them that you are not putting my face until I play with it and it has to be quality and good and exciting for the kids. This is fun and exciting, and that makes me so excited. You have to understand your craft, and little kids are going to understand that you have to get Craft right before Art.
When I first went to Jakks, I wanted to see some of the other stuff they make. They showed me the other lines. I saw show room full of toys; I walked around, playing with all this stuff. I love playing with toys. Everything was quality. After I was done with that, I want you to know, I wanted to make sure it was quality. There are so many things I have said no to. I don’t need my own brand of dog food.
Super Chef: Are kids going to be able to see you using the toy?
Duff Goldman: We are going to film me making cakes with the Cake Bakery. I am not going to use anything but what is in the box, promise. I’ll talk about how it is something you need to learn how to use. I am waiting for some feedback to make seven or eight talking points.
Super Chef: Are you planning on working on other toys or kid’s products? Aprons? Kid-sized tools? A kid’s cooking show on the Food Network?
Duff Goldman: It is being discussed, thought about. The biggest thing is that the Food Network has seen me with large groups of kids. I am a kid myself. They always get me in to those. My feeling is let kids make a mess, I used to watch Julia [Child], like cartoons, I think I can do that with kids, The Food Network has tried it in the past. But they haven’t met anyone else like me; I have been watching a lot of stuff. Why are kids program so stupid? Because we are so condescending to them. They are so much smarter, more intuitive. They can tell when we are talking down to them. When you talk to them like an equal they so respond. Kids can’t lie to you. Right now it is just an idea being tossed back and forth.