Cake to start the day? No, but the Ace of Cakes came to breakfast at Red House Run Elementary School


Alexia Gartside was ready. A Grade 3 student at Red House Run Elementary School, she’d put on one of her nicest dresses to start the day Monday and, when she got to school, snagged a front row seat in the gymnatorium to welcome one of her favorite reality television stars.

So when celebrity cake maker and chef Duff Goldman – the “Ace of Cakes” himself – bounded onto the Red House Run stage, Alexia jumped to her feet and cheered as loud as she could. “I watch all his shows,” she said, nearly breathless from the excitement. “He’s really cool.”

“Do you eat cake for breakfast?” Goldman called to the crowd of students.

“No!” they roared back, seated at cafeteria tables and having just finished an in-school breakfast.

“Right!” called back Goldman, the executive chef of Charm City Cakes shop in Baltimore, and star of Food Network's “Duff Till Dawn” series. “You don’t each cake for breakfast! Well, maybe once a month is okay.”

Goldman came to Red House Run this week to celebrate the school’s selection as the Baltimore County winner of the Maryland School Breakfast Challenge – a title that came with a $2,000 check for the school and a morning that saw Baltimore-native Goldman playing breakfast-themed games with students, posing for pictures, signing autographs, and giving away Ravens memorabilia to students who could yell the loudest.

“We were invigorated by the award we received,” Principal Drue Whitney said. “Our students understand that breakfast is a precursor for achieving academic and social success, and they enjoyed hearing about it from others like Duff Goldman. He related to them on all levels, chatted with them, and communicated the message that boys and girls who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to reach their goals and graduate from school.”

Tamia Brown got the message, and got Goldman’s attention when he asked students to express their enthusiasm – the one who did it loudest, he said, got a Ravens football to keep.  “Usually when I’m home and when I’m outside when there is a competition or something, I keep practicing until I’m louder than anyone,” said Tamia, a Grade 4 student who clutched a football signed by the Ravens mascot, Poe. “I did learn a lot about breakfast this morning, though. I learned it makes you healthy and gives you more energy. And I learned that fruits and vegetables are really healthy for you, and that doctors eat an apple a day to keep them healthy.”

Aside from the excitement, which included Goldman responding to students’ knock-knock jokes onstage, the morning had a serious purpose. Sponsored by BCPS, the Maryland No Kid Hungry campaign, and partners from across the state, the event was part of a statewide celebration of progress in providing healthy breakfasts for children. A school in each of Maryland’s 25 school systems was named winner of the Maryland Breakfast Challenge, earning each a $2,000 check for showing the highest increase of students who ate school breakfast compared to those eligible for a free school lunch.  

After Goldman’s talk, he joined children playing a variety of breakfast and nutrition trivia and other games. His visit coincided with a newspaper column that Goldman wrote Monday speaking to the importance of a nutritious start to the school day.

“The contest and the winning school demonstrated the importance of marketing the breakfast program to all students and to give parents a sense of comfort knowing the school provides nourishment on a daily basis,” said Karen Levenstein, director of the Office of Food and Nutrition for BCPS. “(Duff’s) visit also emphasized the importance of the first meal of the day.”
For more photos of the Maryland Breakfast Challenge celebration at Red Run Elementary School, visit the BCPS Flickr page at

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, BCPS communications specialist
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