It sounds like a clash of culinary titans. But when Eagle Rock’s Queen of Comfort Food meets Baltimore’s Ace of Cakes on the Food Network’s new show Sugar High, the result is a sweet treat, not a sugar showdown.
Chillin’ with Chocolate at
Tonight, Terri Wahl, owner of the beloved Auntie Em’s, and Duff Goldman, proprietor of the wildly popular Charm City Cakes, batter up and bake in L.A. Desserts–Chillin’ with Chocolate, the premiere episode of Goldman’s new show in which he travels across the U.S. on his motorcycle to search out the best desserts in the nation.
Wahl says that Food Network had scouts scour online reviews to “find out what everyone’s talking about”—then go around to different bakeries to check out their favorites.
The Cookie Is Champ
A “great fruit chiffon cake and a lemon shaker pie” were both in the running, says Wahl. Ultimately, however, it was the “Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookie”—a new take on an old classic—that won Goldman over.
“I showed [Duff] how to make it on the air,” Wahl says—adding that the winning treat was modeled after a childhood favorite that her mom made when she was a kid in Anaheim.
“When I opened Auntie Em’s, I gave the bakers the task of mimicking that cookie but I also wanted a big cookie,” recalls Wahl. It was six months before the bake staff came up with the absolutely addictive Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookie, she says (adding, not surprisingly, that the maternal inspiration for her baking triumph is a “very proud mommy!”).
Duff Is Aces!
For anyone wondering if the Ace of Cakes is really a behind-the-scenes diva, Wahl assures fans that “Duff was really funny, well natured and down to earth.” Wahl is no stranger to T.V. herself—she’s been on Cupcake Wars and Throwdown with Bobby Flay and was also a guest judge on Next Food Network Star. Accordingly, confides Wahl, she “didn’t … feel nervous” and that “I … acted really natural, truly showing him and talking to him—[Duff] made it really easy to talk to him.”
The Motorcycle Is Not a Prop
Wahl also reveals that Goldman starts in L.A. and “really, really rides his motorcycle” across the country while “the crew follows him.” And in what promises to be one of Sugar High's more entertaining moments, Wahl takes a little side trip with Goldman.
“I put on a helmet and we rode [Duff’s] motorcycle to my house,” says Wahl, with a laugh. “We got eggs from my backyard chickens to make the cookies.” When asked how the fragile ingredient got back to Auntie Em’s uncracked, Wahl replies that “Duff put the eggs in his pockets.” She adds: “There were three or four—he had on loose-fitting shorts.”
Duff Loves Auntie Em’s
Because the café was open in front while the crew “squished” into the back bakery to record the cookie-making session, Goldman also “talked to customers in the restaurant and asked about Auntie Em’s history,” says Wahl.
The petite restaurateur proudly says that “Duff really, really liked the atmosphere of Auntie Em’s,” which recently received a major makeover of the cafe, the bakery and the marketplace. “He liked the employees and the whole vibe of the place.”
Plenty of Cookies
Wahl will attend an early screening of the episode an hour before it airs tonight at 10:30 p.m. on the Food Network. But the cookie queen is more focused on making sure Auntie Em’s has plenty of Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies available for new Food Network fans as well as her Eagle Rock regulars.
“We’re just gearing up and baking overtime,” she says. “I’m concentrating on having everybody jamming it out.”
Your legions of sweet-toothed fans thank you, Terri!