Getting NFL tickets is cake for Duff Goldman.
All the Baltimore superfan and owner of Charm City Cakes has to do is call up one of the Ravens. His bakery has supplied a lot of the players over the years and he's built relationships with many of them, so they're happy to execute a seats-for-cake trade.
"A few years ago, a friend of mine from college who's a cop in Brooklyn brought 20 guys in his unit down," Goldman says by phone. "I traded Matt Stover a cake for his entire section."
Although the Ace of Cakes star isn't originally from Baltimore, he considers the city home and counts a few Ravens as some of the favorite professional athletes he's gotten to meet. Ray Lewis made the biggest impression, although it was hard for Goldman to put into words.
"There really is something to that guy that you shake his hand and you can feel the energy coming out of him," he says of the Ravens linebacker.
But pressed to name his favorite member of the black and purple, Goldman goes with Haloti Ngata. The oversized Tongan defensive tackle came to Charm City Cakes to help decorate one day and impressed the owner with his efforts. Duff, though, couldn't resist trying to take down the 330-pounder.
"I tried to tackle him," Goldman confesses. "I'm not small, I played nose tackle, but I just bounced right off him."
The baker tried to play it off as a slip, to which Ngata replied, "That's what I thought."
Goldman's love for the Ravens is what makes one of his most treasured pieces of sports memorabilia a quandary. Three seasons ago, he was taking his usual bi-weekly respite from the flour, fondant and confectioner's sugar chaos that is his daily life to stroll through the Baltimore Aquarium. A group of people recognized the Food Network star, and despite being Steelers fans in town for a game against his beloved birds, Goldman was friendly and toured them around his favorite exhibits.
He thought nothing of the encounter until after the game when he received a letter from one of the women he toured around, who happened to be a PR director for the Steelers.
"She told the team she'd run into me, and Troy Polamalu freaked out," Goldman says. "Apparently he loves Ace of Cakes."
So much so that enclosed with the letter was a Terrible Towel with the Steelers safety's autograph. Goldman had to quickly get it out of the bakery and away from the other Ravens diehards he works with. It now hangs in his house in Baltimore. But its presence is conflicting.
"I have this really cool Terrible Towel even though I hate the towel and I hate the Steelers," he says. "But I love Troy."
Goldman is excited to watch the Ravens take on the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs this weekend. He foresees a battle because the teams have similar strengths in their defenses and running games, but says the rest of Baltimore's offensive weapons will put them over the top.
Unfortunately, Goldman won't be able to trade any red velvet or black forest for a seat this weekend. This past summer he opened Charm City Cakes West in Los Angeles and he'll be watching from across the country in his new adopted home -- a place he's growing more fond of
by the minute.
"There's so much creativity here," Goldman says. "On our street outside the bakery you see guys doing huge murals in the middle of the day, which you know is totally illegal. But street art is so accepted here. People see a blank wall and just go for it."
It's something Duff knows all about having painted more than a few street murals in his younger days. And to be clear, he wasn't tagging or simply throwing his initials up on billboards or overpasses. He's a connoisseur of the masked, spray paint can wielding artists.
"I get to see a new Banksy every couple of months," he said, referencing the most famous street artist in the world right now. "I hope he does one on the side of our building."
Banksy will have to use the walls of Charm City Cakes West because Goldman doesn't have any plans to expand his baking empire. He believes going big would cause the company to lose its soul. He's turned down numerous offers from cake design templates to becoming the spokesman for an irritable bowel syndrome remedy.
"There's an oversaturation to seeing your name on a frying pan to a set of drapes to a mouthwash," he jokes. "I don't think I need the Duff Goldman mouthwash."
He's happy to stick with the cakes.
They not only bring joy to the people who order them, but they bring a challenge, a memory and sometimes a surprise for the 37-year-old Bad Boy of Baking. Although he's created numerous sports-themed cakes, there's one that stands out.
Goldman's love for the Ravens is only surpassed by his love for hockey, so he jumped at the chance to do a life-size replica of the Stanley Cup for a wedding. But this order came with a twist, as the producers of Ace of Cakes arranged for the real thing to show up at the bakery -- sans Duff's
"This guy comes into the bakery with a giant trunk and opens the lid and it's the Stanley Cup," Goldman recalls. "I literally almost passed out."
As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, he's excited to replicate the cake for the owner of the team this summer after the B's Stanley Cup victory last season.
Goldman's team winning the Cup also means that he can transition to being more of an Angeleno with a clear conscience.
"I can put on a Kings jersey now and go root for them like a mad man," he says.
But this weekend is all about the Ravens. And if they make it to Indy for a shot at another Super Bowl title, Goldman might have to stop taking orders at Charm City Cakes West for a while.
Who knows how many cakes a pair of Super Bowl tickets is worth.
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