Ace of Cakes
"We do it all - make it bigger, make it badder, make it awesome! For me, it's all about the cake!"
—Duff Goldman, from the opening narration
Ace of Cakes is a Docu Soap about Charm City Cakes, a bakery in Baltimore, Maryland that specializes in amazing cakes. The show revolves around the wacky hijinks of the staff, the making of the cakes (each episode revolves around a select few especially complex cakes), and the reactions of the people receiving the cakes.
The show lasted from August, 2006 to February, 2011, for a total of 115 episodes in ten seasons, as the average season lasted less than five months. During its run, it was one of Food Network's highest rated shows. A sort of sequel, Cake Master, premiers Monday April 11, 2016.
- The Alcoholic/The Stoner:
- The entire staff can seem like this at times, especially Ben and Katherine.
Mary Alice: Free beer! It's like Christmas time for the boozers!
- Geof appears to be stoned a lot of the time when doing his talking-head shots.
- All Just a Dream: The end of the final episode parodies this.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Sort of: As a thank-you for the Squig cake, Duff got a custom MMORPG avatar.
- Awesome McCoolname: Geof Manthorne and Duff Goldman.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Duff
- Cancellation: A loose example, as the tenth season (January 2011) was the last for AoC as a series by mutual agreement between Food Network and Charm City Cakes. This was a result of the bakery being split into two separate locations, the original and a new LA location.
- Carrying a Cake: Dropped cakes are very rare, but have happened. What happens more often than not is that the cake will self-destruct (collapsing, fondant cracking and/or sagging, the environment damaging the decorations, and other mishaps). There was also the time that the terribly, horribly unprofessional maid staff at a hotel in which they were staying prior to a delivery cut up their sheet cakes and ate them. They were able to provide sheet cakes after a local bakery let them use their kitchen.
- The Cast Showoff:
- In addition to being an exceptional baker (and not just of cakes), Duff is an ex-dressage rider and both he and Elena are in bands.
- Geof seems to be the veritable fountain of this trope, as he seems to uncover something unexpectedly brilliant in just about every episode, ranging from songwriting to paintball.
- Christmas Episode: Duff found it highly amusing that the Jewish dude (him) was the one who had to get everyone into the holiday spirit (with fireworks, of course).
- Crossover: Kate + Eight visited as a surprise for Kate; Guy Fieri came in for an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Baltimore and Duff treated him to a giant cake shaped like a giant hamburger; Geof and Duff made an anniversary cake for King of the Hill and had cameos on the show; the crew traveled to Hawaii to simultaneously work on cakes for Lost's wrap party and a US military base (both groups loved it). The cast of Avenue Q came into the bakery, puppets and all while they were making a cake for the show.
- Is that where the puppet-versions of the bakers in the Lost episode came from?
- The crew of Man Caves fixed up the bakery's basement/band room for Duff; Duff also got to ring the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange in, um, exchange for a birthday cake for the NYSE's president.
- Duff was a challenger on Iron Chef America -- it lead to He Really Can Cook!
- He also competed on Chopped: Tournament, where he was chopped in the appetizer round.
- He also appeared as a guest judge on Cupcake Wars; the reward for that episode was having their cupcakes featured at a party celebrating their 100th episode. Duff's proclaimed hatred for cupcakes after the Guinness incident was heavily Lampshaded.
- Duff recently appeared on No Reservations' "Generic Holiday Episode". In a sea of delicious beef dishes, he made a cake shaped like a turkey and surrounded by every holiday icon he could find.
- Cute Kitten: Several of the staff have cats. Elena even has a "Mt. Cutemore" photoshop of her cats.
- Deadpan Snarker: Just about everyone, but especially Geof.
- Which is totally cheating, Geof is deadpan everything.
- Does Not Like Cupcakes: Duff despises them despite (or maybe because of) trying to make the world's largest cupcake and failing. He stated that one of the reasons he hates them is because "people who make cupcakes think they can bake".
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Combined with the above, Duff forced himself to make 52 cupcakes for the New York Rangers hockey team so he could "earn" being involved with his favorite sport.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Mostly the older cakes.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Quite a few times, especially around Halloween. They once made an exception to their "no portraits" rule when the client added "--and his brains are being eaten by zombies."
- Evolving Credits: Since Charm City Cakes' staff increased over the series' run, and a lot more of them appeared on camera, the later seasons' credits noticeably changed to reflect this.
- Fandom: The bakery once received a picture of two girls dressed as Duff and Mary Alice, complete with whisk tattoo and colored hair, respectively.
- Follow the Leader / Dueling Shows / Red Oni, Blue Oni: With TLC's Cake Boss (Duff is the relaxed Blue Oni to high-strung Buddy's Red) and We's Amazing Wedding Cakes.
- Former Teen Rebel: Duff; he's still a rebel, just in a more focused and mostly law-abiding way.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Girl Scouts Are a Ravenous Horde
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Duff and Geof.
- Incendiary Exponent: Duff never misses a chance to shoot off fireworks, and given half a chance, he'll find a way to put fireworks into a cake.
- Knuckle Tattoos: The "BAKE" "CAKE" ads. It's a hand model; Duff's knuckles were too hairy.
- The Lancer: Geof. Duff leads and oversees the production; Geof is a tad standoffish and does the really, really difficult stuff.
- London Town: The bakers went there to make a "Shakespeare-Kabob" for the Globe Theatre and a pork-tacular cake for a "snout-to-tail" restaurant. The chef treated Duff and Geoff to a pig face sandwich for breakfast, which Duff tore into while poor Geoff seemed like he was only eating to be polite.
- Milestone Celebration: A bunch, including:
- The 100th episodes of King of the Hill and Lost
- The 50th anniversary of Alaskan statehood
- Anniversary cakes for Macy's, Ocean Spray, and Milk Bone
- Several movie premieres, notably two Harry Potter movies
- And their own 100th episode, of course.
- The wrap party of the reunion tour of storied indie rock band Pavement
- The final episode featured the 25th anniversary of Back to The Future.
- More Dakka: The police of Muleshoe, TX welcomed the bakers by letting them shoot some automatic weapons and let Duff use a sniper rifle on some despised cupcakes.
- Muppet Cameo: One which combined Ace Of Cakes, Avenue Q, and Lost.
- Mysterious Benefactor: The unnamed VIP client who asked for the dressage cake. When they explained they don't ship cakes outside of driving distance and jokingly added that the client would need a private jet, s/he provided one just for the cake.
- One of Us: In several episodes Homestar Runner merch can be seen.
- One Steve Limit:
- Averted; there's at least two Marys in the bakery.
- Also subverted - Duff's first name is actually Jeff, but most people would never know that. Even his mom calls him Duff on the show.
- Parody: The 100th episode included several parodies of other series like The Hills, The Real World, Undercover Boss, and The A-Team.
- Platonic Life Partners:
- Duff and Mary Alice
- Ben and Katherine
- Product Displacement:
- A cake featuring a barrel of Jack Daniel's whiskey and a guy pouring himself a glass had the writing on the barrel blurred out, and the bottle was never filmed in close-up despite the (presumably) elaborate piping that went into it (they could say Jack Daniel's as much as they wanted, but in the titles it was referred to as the "Whiskey Cake" or the "Beard House Cake"). Ironically the cake was a major honor for Duff, as the society who ordered it is described as "the foodies of foodies" and only order food from either established chefs or exceptional up-and-comers.
- Both Ace and Cake Boss are forbidden from saying Rice Crispy Treats (they use "cereal treats" instead), even though it's a well-used "construction material".
- Product Placement:
- They've gotten commissions from Macy's, Ocean Spray, Warner Bros (for the Harry Potter movie premier - twice!), Dreamworks Animation (for Kung Fu Panda), Lost, and Cirque Du Soleil, among many.
- They made a huge squig cake (they claimed it was the largest cake they'd ever made - it even had an ork inside its mouth!) that earned them a Golden Demon award in the Large Model category. The best part was that the bakers had never heard of Warhammer Fantasy Battle before.
- Ace of Cakes as it turns out is pretty good Product Placement for itself; needless to say the waiting list for Charm City Cakes has gotten quite a bit longer since the premiere of the show.
- Someone noticed they make especially good Star Wars cakes.
- Road Episodes: Duff and Geof went on a road trip to bring delicious cakes to people they couldn't due to the no-fly rule, and visit wonderfully tacky attractions along the way.
- Sassy Secretary: Mary Alice
- Serial Escalation: Regularly.
- This whole show came into existence because Duff, a somewhat regular competitor of Food Network Challenges, kept amazing audiences, judges and network execs alike with his incredible cakes. Came full circle when Duff and the Charm City Cakes staff themselves were judges of a Food Network Challenges episode, where the theme was, appropriately enough, "Extreme Cakes."
- Square-Cube Law: Invoked in the giant cupcake episode. Duff originally just wanted to make a really big cupcake, but after crunching the numbers they found out there was no way the cake would ever support its own weight.
- Shout-Out / Take That: To their TLC counterparts: "You need to be the boss of the cake". "You (the puppet bakers) aren't working out, I'm bumping you to the minor leagues" -- Stuffed in a box with a "Jersey Or Bust" sign (if they really went there, they'd be returned covered in flour and dipped in icing).
- Shown Their Work: In addition to the process of actually making the cakes, for big or unusual commissions they'll do research. Examples:
- For the Ocean Spray cake they crew went to a real cranberry bog and got to help harvest cranberries.
- When they're asked to make stadium cakes they'll visit the actual stadiums; Yankees fangirl Mary nearly had a Heroic BSOD upon entering New Yankees Stadium ("I want this carpet!")
- The state of Alaska asked for a special cake to celebrate the 50th anniversary of statehood, and Duff got to go to Alaska.
- When Duff was asked to do a cake based on a tank, he got to go to an Army base and drive a tank. At this point Duff and Geof explained that their "research" is really just an excuse to go off and do cool stuff.
- In one episode, they made a Dalek cake. They made sure to get the voice exactly right.
- The R2D2 cake, in addition to being life-size with a turning head, also had to look specifically like the Star Wars: Clone Wars version of R2. This meant that not only did it have to look a little busted-up but also match the "painterly" style of the show, which went against the shop's no-visible-brushstrokes ideal. They were able to do everything aside from getting R2's head to turn - it was beyond Duff's engineering skills but fortunately a handyman at Skywalker Ranch was able to rig up a little something and save the day.
- Squick: Adam is a vegan and was a little grossed out when forced to handle hot dogs while helping Duff make cheesy blasters.
- Time Travel / "Close Enough" Timeline: Parodied in the final Back to The Future-themed episode where screwing around with the bakery's flux capacitor caused the bakers to become office workers, bugs, and random haz-mat suit (really painter's suits) wearers. Really screwing up the flux capacitor caused Geof and Duff to become workers at a cake box factory.
- True Companions: The staff.
- Up to Eleven:
Mary Alice: The customer asks for ten, Duff will give them eleven.
- Duff cut down a Christmas tree and used a smaller (fake) tree as a topper. When the staff had a Christmas tree ornament contest, Geoff's submission was an entire second tree with decorations.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: A few times.
- Cake Boss was recently granted permission by the product placement gods