Bob Blumer passionate about extreme cooking

Former Western student offers cooking tips for students

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Bob Blumer

MY HAIR IS BAKED, NOT FRIED. Western alumnus and television chef Bob Blumer travels the world on his new extreme food adventure show Glutton for Punishment.

Most Ivey students become financial consultants, investment bankers or company managers. Western alumnus Bob Blumer, however, became a television chef.

A former Surreal Gourmet star on the Food Network, Blumer’s new show, Glutton For Punishment, finally aired yesterday after a year and a half in the making.

Blumer described his new show as an “extreme food adventure show.” In each episode, Blumer learns how to perform a food-related task within five days, then enters a competition against professionals.

“It was taped all over the world, so I travelled all over to enter competitions or take on challenges,” Blumer said. “I picked grapes in Germany on these insanely steep hills [and ran] this marathon in France where the course runs through 23 different chateaus, and each chateau puts out wine and you run down the driveways in the chateau and then have a sip of the wine and run on to the next chateau.”

Other missions included a trip to Hong Kong where Blumer ate old Chinese noodles, a chili pepper eating competition in New Mexico and a barbecue competition in Kansas.

Unlike most gourmet chefs, Blumer never attended culinary school.

“Basically, I started cooking when I was at Western and I didn’t have any money and I wanted to eat well,” Blumer said. “So I did the math and figured out that I could eat best if I cooked for myself.”

Blumer said charisma and passion help him cook better.

“I’m totally passionate and really curious about things, and I just love to learn and be out there.”

Blumer’s cooking philosophy is “go big or go home.” He doesn’t believe in subtle combinations; he believes in bold flavours combined with “whimsical presentations.”

Despite his reputation for unique recipes and interesting presentations, Blumer said a few times, his food has caused unsettling reactions.

“Once I did a show where I made a birthday cake, but it was actually a ‘Savory Birthday Cake,’ so it was made out of meatloaf and iced with mashed potatoes,” he said.

“I presented it to these kids at a birthday party and basically half of them started to cry when they found out it was meatloaf and not cake. I thought I was being really clever and they were crying.”

One of Blumer’s popular recipes is his “Salmon In The Dishwater,” which he says any student can make easily.

“You take salmon fillet [and] a couple sheets of aluminum foil, squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over them, a little salt and pepper, maybe a little olive oil, maybe throw in some dill and then you feel the package up, so you fold it over itself and squish the seams closed so that it’s totally air-tight. You just put it on the top dishwasher rack and let it go through the entire wash and dry cycle.”

For busy students living on Kraft Dinner, Blumer offers some advice.

“If you don’t have much time and you’re trying to cook things quickly, my best advice would be to always have a few things on hand, like garlic and some fresh herbs that you can add to things that you’re already making, even if it’s from a can or frozen.

“Take baby steps " find recipes that you think you can do that you see in the newspaper or magazines and just start to make them to gain the confidence. As you gain more confidence, you can start to move on to other things. Quick cooking is more about having a well-stocked pantry or refrigerator than anything else. That’s my humble word of wisdom for you.”

Glutton for Punishment airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on The Food Network.

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