‘Ace of Cakes’ Gives Tips for Barbecue Appetizers and Sides

Duff Goldman

The Ace of Cakes is also pretty stellar at sizzling summer sides. Who knew?

Duff Goldman is best known as the Ace of Cakes, but he isn’t all frosting and fondant. We talked to chef Goldman about his favorite summer barbecue recipes for everything but the main meats: including cold soups, oyster shooters and marinades that work best on the grill.

Chef Goldman, what are the best types of appetizers and side dishes to include in your family barbecue this summer?

Finger foods always do the trick. Nothing is as annoying as trying to stand with a plate and a fork and a beverage, all while trying to carry on a conversation. Think food-on-sticks, crostini, finger foods, and small cups full of stuff for one mouthful, like when you drink down the last of the Cheetos.

How do you avoid having “boring or predictable” side dishes like mayo-based salads, plain corn on the cob, etc.?

Use surprising flavors in your dishes. Use one ingredient that is unexpected and you change a whole dish. That being said, there is nothing boring about corn on the cob as long as it is awesome corn (Maryland Eastern Shore Silver Queen is the best on the planet) and you don't ruin it by over cooking it until it is mush. When in doubt, under-cook your corn.

What are your favorite marinades or rubs to work with when grilling?

I try to use surprising flavors when grilling proteins — things like curry, fenugreek, sesame, and green-onion based rubs. I stay away from tomato- and basil-based marinades as I find grilling releases flavors in those two items that I'm not super fond of.

What do you love about cold soups? Are they time-consuming to make?

You can make cold soups  in advance like regular soups, so the flavors marry and mingle, but they are refreshing and light and can be served in bowls or, better for BBQ's, in smaller glasses sans spoons. A good number of cold soups really only require a blender and are made really quickly, but some, like Vichyssoise, do take some time.

I heard that you are the one to talk to about chilled oyster shooters. What can you tell me about your recipe?

I am a non-drinker who happens to love oyster shooters. I have worked very hard over the years to perfect the flavor of my oyster shooter. It has to taste good! Anybody can mix an oyster with some spicy Bloody Mary mix and vodka and make something suitable for the unwashed masses, but mine is a carefully crafted oyster experience designed to take you on a journey of the mysterious and beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

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Check out chef Goldman’s gazpacho and oyster shooters recipes here.