Our Champions: 5 Questions with Chef Duff Goldman

Duff Goldman is a pastry chef, TV personality and No Kid Hungry champion living in Los Angeles.  

He has lent his star power to No Kid Hungry by participating in events, joining our advocacy efforts and raising funds. Most recently, chef Goldman hosted our 2021 Thanksgiving Bake-A-Thon for No Kid Hungry, which united bakers from across the country (and across the pond!) while raising funds to help our nation's hungry kids. We’re proud to feature him today.

You have been a long-time supporter of No Kid Hungry, committed to making an impact. Why is hunger important to you and what has shaped your passion for this cause?
In 2013, my friends at the Food Network planned the “World’s Largest Bake Sale” to benefit No Kid Hungry at Grand Central Station in New York City. It was an amazing event, where local chefs and Food Network stars sold baked goods to benefit No Kid Hungry. Shortly after, No Kid Hungry invited me to visit a school in my community of Baltimore. It was eye-opening. I was able to witness the impact breakfast had on students. The experience of seeing kids eating together and being ready to learn is what made me a believer. 

And you’ve supported us in so many ways since that Baltimore visit. Do you have a favorite memory of working with No Kid Hungry?

There are so many, but I have to say riding with Chefs Cycle in 2017. I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, so I was humbled to cycle alongside so many experienced riders like Jason Roberts and Steve Vilnit. A hundred miles would normally take these guys a couple hours, but it took me eight. At the end of the day, they were there beside me helping me up every climb. It was humbling.

Speaking of humbling experiences, you and your wife Johnna welcomed your daughter Josephine in January 2021. How has becoming a father changed you during the past year?

I wasn’t prepared for how it has changed me ‒ words always come up short. Everything in my life ‒ my needs, my career ‒ have just receded into the background. It’s like a weight has been lifted. Before Josephine, I was the center of my own universe. But now, every decision I make is filtered through the impact it will have on her. 

But being around kids isn’t new to you ‒ you've done kids cooking shows and kid-focused cookbooks. What have you learned from working with kids? What have they taught you?

Kids have taught me so much. On many of my shows, I can’t actually help the kids make the recipes ‒ but I’ve learned I don’t always need to. Kids learn best by doing, trying things out and making mistakes. When I’m hands off, it helps them tap into their imagination and learn as they go. Even if they mess up or aren’t following the recipe, they are still having an experience with it and having fun in the process. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s a good lesson to learn.

The culinary industry is changing so rapidly. How do you see the role of chefs evolving in the coming years? What’s one piece of wisdom you can share with the next generation of bakers, chefs and activists?

Now that chefs have such a large platform, we have a choice to make. We can choose to contribute to division in our country or work to bring people together. I choose to bring people together. There are so many issues we could focus on ‒ hunger, food waste, nutrition, climate change ‒ and cooking sits at the nexus of many of those issues. The decisions we make in our businesses and on our social media feeds can contribute to solutions. But it’s also up to us to vote for representatives we believe in and policies that we want to see enacted. 

Finally, not to sound cliché, but my advice would be for others to think globally, act locally. Sometimes the change we can make in our communities ‒ with our family, friends, neighbors ‒ can be the most inspiring to others. 

Follow Duff Goldman on Instagram. 

Today, 1 in 6 children in the US could be living with hunger. Chefs — like Duff — continue to step up and find creative ways to ensure all kids have access to the meals they need to thrive. Stay tuned for more stories about champions supporting No Kid Hungry.