Tuesday, August 11, 2009

....I Think I Heard Angels Singing....

(Chef Duff Goldman at work)

…and there we were……

After a day of travel to Baltimore and a breakfast planning meeting and a trip to the local Harris Teeter store to buy all the Blue Bunny® ice cream and toppings fit for a good ‘ol fashioned ice cream social we found ourselves standing at the threshold of all that is good and sweet and oh, so right. A world of cakes and fondant and creative artists and bakers….and Chef Duff Goldman, himself.

We grinned stupidly at each other – none of us believing that we were actually at Charm City Cakes’ front door. A plain, grey-ish stone building with two giant citadel-like wooden doors that no one could breach, no matter how strong their sugar craving.

I rang the intercom bell:

Voice: “Hello?”
Me: “Blue Bunny ice cream team is here!”
Voice: “Okay….just a moment.”

We exchanged glances…giddy as schoolgirls.

The doors opened. I swear I think I heard angels singing.

There it was. The interior of the bakery. In all of it’s crazy pop-art colors and decorations, the crew busily building fondant cake “wraps” (not sure this is the technical term, but they sculpt the designs on cake molds and then wrap it onto a cake once it is baked, later in the week) and applying some of the most beautiful and intricate artwork I have ever seen. “Dummy cakes” – not real cakes but fake cakes built for display only of some of their finest works rimmed the conference table area. The most intriguing “dummy cake” was a bust of Marie Antoinette with her throat slit, blood oozing from the incision. Chef Duff explained that while it was really interesting, it was very macabre. It took our whip-smart intern to exclaim, “How interesting, since she was the one who said, ‘Let them eat cake!’” Duff stopped and looked at her, incredulous and flattered at her insight…. "You see?” he said softly, “No one gets that!”

Chef Duff was a gentle, crazy, awe-inspiring genius that gracefully led our team (five of us, in all) through the creative process to design a cake concept that would include lights and dry ice smoke. Unbelievable. His mind just floated from our concepts (which we thought were good in the first place) to something a little more intriguing and unique. At one point during the meeting, I turned to him and said, “Is there anything you have always wanted to do for a cake but never have?”

His eyes danced and he leaned back in his chair for a moment to reflect. The Willy Wonka of cake-making, a story-telling, good-hearted, soft-spoken, yet creatively outgoing master of his art leaned forward and took a pencil in hand and sketched. We talked. He talked. We watched him work. Dream. We collaborated and finally ended up with a cake that will be an amazement to all who attend the event in which it will be unveiled.

He wrote up the contract. Quoted us a price. Ouch (but worth it). We signed it. Paid our deposit. He proceeded to present us with some samples of cake flavors we had requested for our cake and he wanted to visit more. At the two-hour mark, Mary Alice (oh, how we lover her, too!) reminded Duff that he needed to “shut up” (Duff’s words, not mine) and get ready for a three o’clock appointment they had.

But the ice cream social had not yet occurred.

Chef Duff told us to go across the street to “Dizz’s” restaurant (oh….yummmy place to eat) and come back in about 45 minutes.

Invited back? Us? To Charm City Cakes?

Find out how the rest of the visit went in Friday’s blog post. But until then, I remain….1SweetMama

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