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TV Review: Ace of Cakes

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Like many Americans, in those brief periods when I am not eating, I want to be eating. When I am dieting or exercising, I take perverse pleasure in watching the Food Network. This is where I found an addicting show unlike any on the Food Network, Ace of Cakes.

Reality show Ace of Cakes follows the daily business of Baltimore-based Charm City Cakes, its Chef Duff and his eclectic staff as they construct stunning, challenging, and bold cakes. As the intro states, after pastry school Chef Duff decided to make cakes his way, hiring the most talented people he knew — his friends. As it appears, they all actually are friends and are fellow rock musicians. Duff plays bass in the indie instrumental band "so I had to?”

Duff and his staff make up to 20 cakes a week while dealing with time constraints, tumbling cakes, and making their next cake crazier than the last. The amazing cakes under the staff’s belt range from a replica of Wrigley Field to a cake of the board game Candyland. Don’t be surprised to see chainsaws and fire in this bakery. The goal of Charm City Cakes is to always outdo themselves.

Chef Duff attended the University of Maryland and the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California. He took many jobs around the country but eventually settled in Baltimore. In 2000, he opened Charm City Cakes. Ace of Cakes has been very popular with fans and is now entering its sixth season. The show has received some of the highest primetime ratings ever for the Food Network.

Although not often mentioned on the show, Charm City Cakes offers 40 different flavors, including blackberry sour cream, S’mores, and peanut butter and jelly. After the cakes are baked and cooled, the staff usually rolls out fondant over the cake to begin construction. I have always wondered what fondant was because the layer of white fondant doesn’t look too tasty, but it's obviously necessary for cake-sculpting. Fondant is basically just sugar and water.

The popularity of Ace of Cakes led to the production of TLC’s Cake Boss and WEtv’s Amazing Wedding Cakes. Cake Boss seems like TLC was just fishing for a character and of course being Italian in New Jersey makes you somehow involved in organized crime. Ace of Cakes’ characters are much more authentic and believable. Amazing Wedding Cakes is slightly different because it follows four bakeries instead of one.

Ace of Cakes is hands down my favorite cake show out of the three due to its quirky cast. Cake Boss and Amazing Wedding Cakes go more into what is inside the cake than what crazy thing they can create from the cake. If you are more about the food than the art, Cake Boss and Amazing Wedding Cakes might be better choice for you.

I would recommend Ace of Cakes to anyone who loves food and art, and self-torturing dieters.   Ace of Cakes airs Thursdays at 10pm/9c on Food Network.

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