Amid the glitz of President Trump’s inaugural festivities, one item stood out in particular late Friday night: a spectacular nine-tier cake that the new president and Vice President Pence cut into with a sword.
To pastry chef Duff Goldman, the cake seemed a little too familiar — because it looked almost exactly like one he had made years earlier for Barack Obama’s second inauguration as president.
Just after midnight, the Food Network personality posted a side-by-side comparison of two cakes on his Twitter account.
On the left, Goldman wrote in the caption, was the cake he had created for the Commander in Chief’s Ball in 2013. The one on the right was the cake that had just appeared at Trump’s Salute to Our Armed Services Ball.
It appeared nearly identical to Goldman’s cake from four years ago, right down to the colors, the patriotic bunting and the placement of several small silver stars and seals.
“I didn’t make it,” Goldman wrote about Trump’s cake, adding a suspicious thinking-face emoji at the end.
Neither Goldman nor representatives from Trump’s transition and inauguration teams responded to requests for comment Saturday morning. Late Saturday afternoon, a member of Trump’s inauguration team redirected questions to planners of the inaugural ball with the Defense Department. Spokespeople for the department said Sunday evening that they were not the ones to answer questions regarding the ball. Goldman did not respond to requests for comment throughout the weekend.
On Saturday morning, Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Washington’s Buttercream Bakeshop, stepped forward to say she had been the one to create the much-talked-about cake.
She said that the order came in while she was out of town and that the client had brought in a photo of the cake from Obama’s inauguration, asking her to re-create it.
“They came to us a couple of weeks ago, which is pretty last minute, and said ‘We have a photo that we would like to replicate,’ ” MacIsaac told The Washington Post by phone. Her bakery tried to encourage the client to use the photo as “inspiration,” as they do with many others, she said.
“They said, ‘Nope, they want this exact cake. It’s perfect.’ And we said, ‘Great,’ ” MacIsaac said. Neither she nor her spokeswoman revealed who placed the order. The Salute to Our Armed Services Ball was one of three official presidential inaugural balls held Friday and open by invitation only to members of the military, veterans, first responders and their families.
MacIsaac declined to state her political affiliation but said her bakery began planning how it would donate its proceeds from the Trump inaugural cake to charity. The baker and her staff chose the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates for equal treatment of the LGBT community — and that has declared Trump “unfit for the presidency.”
“I’m a small-business owner, and one of the things I’m very, very proud about is that I don’t discriminate,” MacIsaac said. “I would never turn someone away based on their age, their sex, their sexual orientation, their political views. It’s just not the way we operate.”
MacIsaac said the attention caught her by surprise partly because, per the order, the Trump cake was intended to be more of a prop: All but a three-inch slice at the bottom was inedible.
“It’s just a Stryofoam cake. It’s not for eating,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be seen on TV.”
As is customary with many of her creations, MacIsaac posted a photo of the re-created cake on Instagram the day after the event. By then, Goldman’s tweet — and controversy over the cake — had found its way to her.
“Obviously, my intention was definitely not to upset him in any way,” MacIsaac said of Goldman, whom she does not know personally. “I just wish that it had not been presented the way that it was.”
Goldman, who founded Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and Los Angeles, is known for his showstopping cake creations. From 2006 to 2011, the Food Network reality show “Ace of Cakes” followed Goldman as he ran his bakery and pulled out all the stops to construct elaborate cakes. These days, the celebrity pastry chef is better known to pint-size bakers as “Chef Duff” as one of the judges on the network’s “Kids Baking Championship.”
Later Saturday, Goldman posted to Twitter again, with an apparent change of heart.
“Remembering a fantastic cake I made is awesome and the chef that re-created it for @POTUS Trump did a fantastic job,” he tweeted. “Group hug, y’all.”
“It was our honor to create this cake for last night’s Commander-in-Chief Ball — an experience we will never forget,” the Charm City Cakes Facebook page noted with a picture of the cake the day after Obama’s 2013 inauguration. (For the record, Obama has said he is more of a pie person.)
It was not the first time a celebratory cake for Trump had made headlines. On Election Day, a large bust of his head — in cake form — was carted into Trump Tower for his victory party. The jarring image set Twitter afire.
Allegations of plagiarism also are not new in Trump’s nascent administration. During his transition, Trump aide Monica Crowley said she would not take a national security communications post after charges she had plagiarized several passages in her 2012 book.
And the president’s spouse, Melania Trump, was accused of lifting a portion of her speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention from one Michelle Obama gave at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
And shortly after Trump gave his inaugural address on Friday, some thought that a small part of his speech sounded quite similar to words uttered by the Batman villain Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.”