Titans of baking go head to head on Food Network’s ‘Buddy vs. Duff’

‘Buddy vs. Duff’ – Bakers take the cake

Buddy Valastro (left) and Duff Goldman

When it comes to competition, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro and Duff “Ace of Cakes” Goldman are no strangers to each other.

They’ve encountered each other before, most notably in the early 2000s on “Food Network Challenge.” Outside the TV realm, they have an East Coast connection, as Valastro has his Carlo’s Bakery in Jersey City, N.J., while Goldman’s Charm City Cakes lies 180 miles down I-95 in Baltimore. Both men have a professional respect for each other and enjoy a friendly rivalry.

Which is what these seasoned pros bring to the kitchen in “Buddy vs. Duff.” In the six-week competition series airing Sundays on Food Network, these accomplished pastry artists utilize their design skills, techniques and imaginations to whip up delectible creations and impress judges Sherry Yard and Keegan Gerhard and guest experts including Penn & Teller, Christina Anstead (“Flip or Flop”), Gesine Prado (“Baked in Vermont”), Aarti Sequeira (“Guy’s Grocery Games”) and Hannah Hart (“My Drunk Kitchen”).

Valastro, for one, is well aware of what he’s up against.

“I think that Duff is meticulous in what he does,” he says of his adversary. “I think that he really understands tastes and flavor profiles. I think that he’s a fierce competitor, I really do. I think that his attention to detail is second to none. I don’t want to say that I underestimated him but you know, if we were going at it again I’d kind of go in with a different disposition and my do’s and don’t’s of what I have to make or what I have to do.”

In this week’s episode, the two bakers’ creative talents come to the fore when they’re tasked with making cakes inspired by Bollywood.

“When I close my eyes and I think of Bollywood,” Valastro says, “I just think of so many different things and I think of the colors and the creativity of what you can do. And being here in Jersey, we have a really big Indian culture and I’ve got a lot of Indian friends. So I’ve been to a lot of Indian weddings and I kind of know how they do it up, so it was really awesome for me to be part of that … because I love the food, I love the people, the culture. And it was truly like ‘Yeah!’ when I found that one out.”

Doing “Buddy vs. Duff” brought Valastro back to his roots. He began his career in competition, which he says served to sharpen his skills. So this experience proved to be a welcome challenge for him.

“It kind of brings you back to like being reborn again, being a kid,” he says. “You get that flutter in your heart when you’re standing there, when you’re making the stuff, when you’re creating the stuff. So for me it was really an amazing experience.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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