by Duff Goldman, Celebrity Chef & Star of the hit Food Network series Ace of Cakes.

Cake: the physical manifestation of joy

What is it about cake decorating that really makes it awesome for us? It depends on how you look at the work we do, whether it’s the final product, the impetus for the creation, the objective observer (in our case, television viewers and customers…though not in that order), or the subjective individuals, namely ourselves, who are producing the work.

The business we have created is doing very well and we can pay our bills and enjoy the little things. That makes me happy. Not the money, mind you, but the fact that we are free to pursue the excellence of our craft knowing that the lights will stay on and we can afford the materials with which we create.

The process is the hook for us. It’s the late Friday nights staring at a rack full of amazing cakes that will go out the next morning and make thousands of people happy. That’s the real paycheck.

We spend hundreds of hours conjuring these cakes out of nothing, in full knowledge that the public display of our worry, talent, stubbornness, and joy will last just a few hours, if not minutes, before it is destroyed and consumed—the consumption of which is part of the pleasure.

The cakes are beautiful, yes, but they are equally (if not more so) delicious. We want you to eat them. Really. I get asked all the time if it just kills us to see people eating our cakes. I think it would kill me more if they didn’t.

People come to us for a reason. We are not the healers of disease or the teachers of our children. We don’t keep the world safe, prevent bad things from happening, or respond when they do.

We do one thing—we make people smile. The value of that is immeasurable, in the scientific sense of the word (though if you can, certainly see it as monstrously important to the common psyche). People come to us because somewhere, hopefully in more than one place, there is a smile waiting to happen. We understand our place in the universe, and it is our child-like eagerness to create and please that gives us the ability to give people a little joy.

I often say that cake is the physical manifestation of joy. It represents a celebration, and is created at the request of someone else, which boils down to the fact that when you get a cake it means someone cares about you.

For us that is a sacred emotion. It’s a sort-of ‘You are not alone in the Universe’. We make a huge effort to let someone know that they are loved. We may be a miniscule factor in that personal relationship, but we make our part as perfect as possible. We understand the motivating factor behind anyone asking us to do what we do, and we take that responsibility to heart. I truly believe that is the reason we are so good at what we do. Our hearts are in the right place.

I could talk about the business aspect of running a cake shop, but I had an epiphany not too long ago. The way to do things right is to not do them wrong. Don’t laugh. Succeeding in any venture is really not difficult. Just do it right and the rest will follow.

If it doesn’t follow, examine first yourself and see what you did that didn’t work. And lose the ego. It will blind you to all your faults, and they will persist.

I started this bakery so I would have the free time to be in a band, not to have a television show. Television is something that happened as a result of the collective passion of a group of artists who live a life that is balanced.

We “work” in the classic sense of the word, but when you love the work you do it ceases to have a negative stigmatism. In the words of Banksy, a graffiti artist and one of my heroes, “Fame is a by-product of making something that means something.”