Baking legends Buddy Valastro (Cake Boss) and Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes) will go head-to-head in a series of confectionery challenges in Food Network’s forthcoming culinary competition series Buddy vs Duff.
Produced by Jane Street Entertainment and Optomen USA, the master bakers face-off in a six-week competition that will challenge their baking and artistry skills. Each episode will measure their talent in two rounds – a bake-off to test their baking mastery, followed by a cake-off to showcase their creativity and decorating prowess.
Acclaimed chefs Sherry Yard and Keegan Gerhard are joined throughout the competition by special guest experts including, Street Science’s Kevin Delaney, Flip or Flop’s Christina Anstead, Hannah Hart, Fast N’ Loud’s Richard Rawlings, and many more, to help crown the undisputed king of cake.
Buddy vs Duff premieres March 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network.
Ahead of the premiere of Buddy vs Duff on Food Network, Realscreen caught up with MacLetchie to learn more about the series and her thoughts on the future of culinary competition programming. MacLetchie has executive produced numerous programs in the genre, including The Next Food Network Star and Worst Cooks in America.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
With so much baking talent out there, why did you decide to pick Duff Goldman and Buddy Valastro for this series?
I don’t see that there was a choice. We wanted a head-to-head competition between the two biggest names in cake. Only two names fit that bill.
What was it like working with Goldman and Valastro? Did the fact that they are established talent create any specific challenges for you when you were producing the series?
This was by far the most real and most intense competition I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve worked on a lot. But it had nothing to do with them being talent. It was because Buddy and Duff gave everything to this competition. They battled for weeks, with 18-hour days of straight work. This wasn’t about sitting in a trailer and coming to set. The TV part was secondary. This was two masters getting down to the core of what makes them great.
You’ve executive produced a roster of culinary programming. What have you learned about producing culinary competition series since you first started, and in your opinion, has the nature of these programs changed since then?
This genre is near and dear to my heart because it has the potential to be so personal, and such an incredible vehicle for storytelling. I think the genre continues to shift and expand, while the storytelling remains exactly the same. We always tell our producers — if a character’s line could have been said by anyone else, we don’t want it. Tell that person’s story uniquely or don’t tell it at all. The more the genre gets back to that authentic place, the better.
How do you see culinary competition formats evolving over the next few years?
It’s so family-focused now, which I love, but of course that will change. I don’t think much about how the format is evolving, to be honest. Instead, we look at a food competition idea and say “what makes this particular view of food unique?” What is the story we are telling, and how is the audience supposed to feel? If we only ever want the audience to feel suspense, they’re going to get bored. It’s like going to the same haunted house over and over. Which I would never do, because I hate haunted houses.
With so much culinary content available for viewers to watch, what is unique to Buddy vs Duff that will make it stand out against other programs?
By far, the level of intimacy in Buddy vs Duff is astonishing to me. How much these guys gave of themselves — how close the viewer feels to their experience. What we tried to do, and I think we succeeded, is bring an element of documentary to it — we were documenting a competition, the heavyweight championship, the battle to end all battles. We weren’t creating a game for TV. As a result, the audience gets an unheard of amount of time and closeness to these two very talented and very famous (and wildly different) people. It wasn’t easy — and it meant we had to work a lot harder to put the story together — but once we did, I couldn’t be more proud.