Glutton for Punishment
Watch as food adventurer Bob Blumer seeks out extreme epicurean challenges in a rock’em sock’em show for impassioned foodies, armchair adventurers and gourmet travelers. Whether he is diving for sea urchins, running the galley of a Navy frigate, picking coffee on the volcanic slopes of Hawaii’s Big Island or breaking the Guinness World Record for pancake making, there is no distance too far and no challenge too intimidating for this genuine “Glutton for Punishment”!
Episode 1. Guinness Book of Records
Who can resist a stack of flapjacks dripping with gooey syrup and melted butter? At the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada – one of the biggest rodeo events in North America – they serve more than 200,000 pancakes to legions of hungry partiers in cowboy hats. Bob’s challenge is to break the Guinness World Record for the most pancakes made in an hour! Each pancake must be equal in diameter and thickness, and those with burnt edges don’t count. If Bob can pull it off, he’ll earn a Guinness World Record title, plus the honor of being the fastest breakfast cook in the Wild West.
Episode 2. One-Man Band
Bob has one week to train with Daniel Rose, chef/owner of a one-man 16-seat restaurant in Paris. In a typical French restaurant, a “brigade de cuisine” is classically headed by the executive chef and under him a number of others. Daniel’s operation is a one-man brigade: He runs the entire restaurant solo, from shopping for all the ingredients, prep, cooking, serving the customers and cleaning up. At the end of the week Bob will take over, running the kitchen and restaurant solo for one day. Can he uphold the restaurant’s reputation on a night when all the top restaurant critics in Paris sit down to dine?
Episode 3. Lobster Banding
In Pictou, a picturesque seaside town in Nova Scotia, lobster is king. Every year, locals celebrate the end of the lobster season at the Pictou County Lobster Carnival. Bob’s challenge is to win the Lobster Banding Contest, a race to stretch elastic bands around the pinching claws of irate, live lobsters without losing a finger. It’s the daily grind for Bob’s competitors, seasoned lobster fishermen who band crustaceans by the crate. They’re willing to take Bob out to sea to learn about lobster catching, banding and even cracking, but they won’t give up all their tricks – just watch your fingers, Bob!
Episode 4. World Pizza Cup
The city of Naples is the spiritual home of pizza. So it’s only fitting that it should host the annual World Pizza Cup, the largest celebration of pizza in the world, where pizza making and pizza dough tossing have become competitive sports. Bob is about to take on Pizzaiolos (pizzamakers) who come from all over the world to compete for the coveted title of World’s Best Pizza-tosser – an acrobatic show of dough tossing bravado. Bob has less than a week to learn all the dough handling moves and come up with his own routine to wow a panel of Neopolitan judges who are determined to keep the winning title in their hometown.
Episode 5. Morel Mushrooms
Dirty, sweaty and bug-ridden – Bob hikes into a remote swath of burnt forest in northern British Columbia in search of morels – one of the most valuable and sought after mushrooms in the world. Morel pickers are a wild and rugged breed. They live in the bush, covered in soot from head to toe, fiercely guarding their picking spots. It’s always a competition to see who can make it out of the woods with the heaviest load, yielding the highest cash return. Can this city slicker take on some of B.C.’s fastest, strongest pickers, all while surviving in the wilderness amongst black bears and burrowing ticks?
Episode 6. Deep Fried Competition
Concessionaires at the L.A. County Fair have been getting creative with their deep fried foods, serving everything up from deep fried frog legs to deep fried cupcakes. Bob checks his calorie counter at the gate to enter in the Fair’s Deep Fry Contest – where fairgoers judge each vendor’s entry on originality, taste and appearance. Bob learns that deep frying is no easy feat – finding the right batter, the right combination of salty and sweet, and the right oil temperature to avoid a melted mess takes hours of trial and error. He hops in his vegetable oil fueled car to test out his deep fried experiments on his neighbors in L.A., with a pit stop to explore the art of tempura at a Japanese restaurant along the way. Will Bob’s fried creation hold up on contest day, or will he be up to his elbows in grease?
Episode 7. Sea Urchins
Bob is about to meet his match – a little red invertebrate, covered in sharp spikes! The sea urchin looks like an underwater porcupine, but inside is a treasure of delicious roe. The Japanese call it Uni, and it is a delicacy in seafood restaurants all over the world. Bob’s challenge is to win a race against the salty dog crew of Vancouver Island’s Kuroshio Urchin Harvesting Boat. They are a competitive bunch, determined to beat out a city slicker in a frenzied urchin harvesting race. Bob’s training will be rigorous. He will have to get a crash course in scuba diving, then learn how to harvest sea urchins by carefully raking them into a bag on the ocean floor without getting “spined,” tangled in kelp beds or hugged by an octopus. Can Bob rake in enough of this spiky delicacy to join the Kuroshio’s elite crew, or will he be forced to walk the plank?
Episode 8. Hot Sauce Judging
Ever in search of a bigger chili pepper high, Bob will train to become one of the official judges at the famed Austin Hot Sauce Festival. His ultimate task is daunting: he’ll have to taste more than 400 different hot sauce entries in just a couple of hours! In order to hold his own amongst the judges and save face in front of over 15,000 attendees, Bob will need to develop his tasting palate to detect subtle differences in aroma, heat and flavor, while faced with the sheer volume of volcanic spices. Will he survive this fiery challenge or go up in flames?
Episode 9. Pie Baking
Bob loves pie…but despite his love of the culinary arts, he’s just never had the patience to tackle cooking’s more finicky cousin. In fact, he has never baked a pie in his life! This week, his challenge will be to take a deep breath, raise his rolling pin high, and perfect the art of baking home made apple pie. He’ll be competing against veteran grannies in the Orchard’s Annual Apple Pie Baking contest in Vermont. Bob will have to join the apple harvest for a couple of backbreaking days – all the better to become one with his material. His reward? Fresh air, all the crisp, organic Vermont apples he can eat and no more store-bought pie.
Episode 10. Pasta Cook
Friday night in Chicago’s busiest Italian restaurant is a steaming dish of insanity! In Mia Francesca’s tiny kitchen, a line of cooks stand shoulder to shoulder – screaming out orders, grinding out hundreds of plates of pasta, trying not to get burned on red-hot sauce pans – all to satisfy a dining room full of hungry pasta-lovers. Bob’s challenge is to survive on the line on a busy Friday night. He’ll have to be a master of coordination as he works closely with the other chefs – some of whom have been on the line for decades. When Friday night hits, will Bob be able to conquer vats of boiling pasta, or will the other chefs have to serve him up on a plate?
Episode 11. Grape Stomp
At the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, locals gather to enjoy local wines, visit with old friends, and stomp out the competition in the World Grape Stomp. Teams of stompers and swabbies (the stomper squishes the juice out of the grapes with their feet; swabbies push the juice through the wine barrel spigot with their hands) have five furious minutes to fill up their jugs. Bob’s challenge is to stomp and squish his way to glory! First he’ll have to find a champion swabbie to be his partner, then master his stomping technique. Of course his training wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Sonoma’s world-class vineyards. Will Bob be able to crush the competition, or will he have to eat his sour grapes?
Episode 12. Navy Head Cook
A consummate individualist, Bob has always chafed under anyone else’s authority. But this week it’s “yes sir, no sir” as Bob enlists in the Navy. Bob is challenged to work in the galley of a Navy frigate – a moving kitchen where half the battle is just staying on your feet. His ultimate mission? To get good grub on deck for a ship full of hungry crew, an elite cadre of officers, and one tough Captain – all in the midst of a training operation at sea. Seasickness is nothing compared with a military mob that’s armed and ravenous!
Episode 13. Coffee Picking
Grown on volcanic rock, taking five years to mature – Kona Coffee is considered by many to be the best coffee in the world. On the rugged slopes of Kona, Hawaii, picking the perfect coffee cherry is a serious art. Bob will have to work for his cup, by entering Kona’s annual Coffee Picking Contest. Bob has just three frenzied minutes to pick against master pickers who can find ripe cherries with their eyes closed. Bob will pick, mill and roast thousands of pounds of beans on a coffee farm to train for the contest. It’s a grind, but hopefully the caffeine buzz will keep him going.
Episode 14. Kung-Fu Tea Challenge – Hangzhou, China
The Kung-fu tea (Kungfu cha) ceremony remains an important part of social etiquette in Hangzhou, China. This is no timid tea party though. Combining piping hot tea with martial art moves, it’s more like the flair bartending of caffeinated drinks. The server must pour the tea from great height and from behind his back with great flair and precision. Bob’s challenge is to master the tea ceremony and then perform it for a tough panel of judges. His skills will be critiqued at the Tai Ji Tea House where the tea master expects one thing – precision.
Episode 15. Nettle Eating Competition – Dorset, UK
Stinging nettles are the British equivalent of poison ivy. Just brush up against them and they cause a painful rash. When cooked, nettles quickly lose their sting and taste like spinach. But in the Nettle Eating Competition in Dorset, England, the nettles are eaten raw – with natural accompaniments such as caterpillars, slugs and other nettle loving bugs. Bob must train himself to endure intense pain while attempting to swallow 40 linear feet of raw nettles. Has Bob finally bitten off more than his (swollen) lips can chew?
Episode 16. Sushi Masters Competition – San Diego, California
Sushi has been a treasured part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years. And these days, virtually every North American neighborhood seems to have a sushi joint. In this episode, Bob has five days to learn the intricacies of cutting raw fish, assembling a traditional sushi plate and creating his signature roll. Then he’ll go head-to-head against a seasoned group of sushi chefs in the Sushi Masters Competition – a live competition that showcases a mastery of sushi art and style. Bob’s mentor has his work cut out for him since Bob has never made sushi in his life! But by week’s end, Bob will have to prove that he’s ready to embrace the Zen of sushi. Will he come out of the competition with his knife held high?
Episode 17. Goat Milking Competition – Mason-Dixon Line, Pennsylvania
Bob has faced a lot of competitors in his day, but he is about to meet his match – a mean-tempered 150-pound nanny goat. Bob must take on this milking dairy goat at the Goat Milking Competition in Pennsylvania – America’s mecca for goat and sheep. To train for the big event, Bob works on a local goat farm, where he learns the proper technique of milking a goat. With his freshly pumped spoils, he’ll learn how to make products made with goat’s milk such as unpasteurized milk and goat cheese. Then it’s time for the contest where Bob must chase down his chosen goat, roll up his sleeves and get the most milk in a bucket in a timed event. Will Bob succeed? Or be udderly defeated?
Episode 18. Slice & Dice Competition – Chicago, Illinois
Bob, a self-trained chef, has never had his culinary skills tested at a culinary institution. In this challenge, he will find out if his knife skills are sharp enough to compete against culinary professionals in a Knife Skills Competition at Kendall Culinary College in Chicago. He will take on the professionals in a triathlon knife skills challenge that includes culinary cuts, vegetable carving and the longest daikon radish roll. Whichever competitor is the fastest and executes with the most precision in the competition is the winner. Will Bob be able to slice and dice himself to victory, or have a dull execution?
Episode 19. Ice Cream Making Competition – Austin, Texas
In smoking hot Austin, Texas, ice cream is not just a treat, it is a lifesaver! At the Austin Ice Cream Festival, competitors make ice cream the old-fashioned way – by hand-cranking freezing cream until it sets. It takes a strong arm and considerable stamina, but true ice cream purists know it’s worth it. In his quest to take home the prize for best new flavor, Bob uses his nouvelle cuisine perspective to re-invent a classic. In true Bob style, he devises his own foot-crank bicycle ice-cream maker. But will it play in Texas?
Episode 20. Potato Peeling Competition – Barnesville, Minnesota
Bloody fingers, cuts, scrapes, and sore hands await Bob as he takes to the stage, grabs a peeler and strives to be the fastest at the annual Potato Days Peeling Contest in tiny Barnesville, Minn. The inhabitants of Barnesville, one of the best potato producing areas in the U.S., pride themselves on their spuds. Bob finds himself against some stiff competition. Will Bob be able to beat his nimble-fingered competition?
Episode 21. Chinese Dumpling Competition – Vancouver, BC
Bob heads to a popular Chinese dumpling restaurant in Vancouver, where he’ll have five days to learn how to make dumplings in a fast-paced kitchen where screaming chefs slam out thousands of dumplings a day. Bob’s task is to learn the most difficult one –xialongbao (soup dumpling) – a dumpling with a complex filling and 24 intricate folds. Later Bob goes head-to-head against Dim Sum Pros in a Dumpling Making Competition at the Night Market in Richmond, B.C. Here Bob and his competitors have five minutes to roll and fold the dumplings, steam them and serve them to the judging panel. Does Bob have what it takes or will he end up crying in his soup (dumpling)?
Episode 22. Bagel Roll-Off – Montreal, Quebec
Bob loves bagels, but mastering the art of the hand-rolled Montreal bagel takes time that he does not have. In five short days, Bob has to learn how to make this legendary Montreal staple from start to finish, and then tackle the toughest skill of the process, hand-rolling perfect bagels, before he goes before the entire team of bakers at the famous St. Viateur Bakery in a challenge to roll 44 bagels in just five short minutes. Bob’s arms will ache, he’ll be wiping sweat from his brow, and his reputation will be at stake. Can he rise to the challenge, or will he get toasted?
Episode 23. Coconut Husking Competition – Kauai, Hawaii
Bob is strong, but does he have the strength to husk the bark off a bundle of coconuts in seconds – with his bare hands? He had better to compete in the 13th Annual Coconut Festival. Bob trains by learning the proper technique of removing the husk from his Polynesian teacher, a master at all things coconut. With his freshly cracked coconuts, he will travel to the island of Kauai to discover the many uses of this delicious nut, from making coconut milk to creating haupia, a traditional Hawaiian coconut pudding used in luau. Will his love of coconuts help him endure this challenging competition?
Episode 24. Gumbo Cook Off – New Iberia, Louisiana
Gumbo, a stew containing poultry, shellfish, and smoked pork served over rice, is a staple in many homes across Louisiana. Bob is put to the test to see if he has what it takes to win the Gumbo cook-off in New Iberia, La. – The Gumbo Capital of the World. They mean business in New Iberia and they want to show this hotshot from Hollywood that he might as well quit before he even begins. Bob’s training for the competition includes learning what makes a tasty gumbo from local champs. He also ventures into the muddy swamps of Louisiana to catch the ingredients for his creation. Does he have what it takes to beat these local competitors, or will Bob’s perception of “The Big Easy” change when the competition starts?
Episode 25. Edible Car Race – Providence, Rhode Island
Bob loves cars and food but he has never combined them. This changes when he is pitted against elite engineering students in the Edible Car Competition at Brown University, an Ivy league school in Rhode Island. Students build and race vehicles made entirely out of food – ranging from loaves of bread, to butternut squash. Bob sees how the food is repurposed back into the land through compost and sustainability plans while touring local farms, and working at Brown University’s own cafeteria. Can Bob outwit some of the brightest students to create the ultimate speed racer, or will he be left in the dust by a vehicle made out of rice cakes and zucchini?
Episode 26. Chocolate Fashion Show – Montreal, Quebec
There was a time when chocolate was for kids, but, in these days of gourmet, vintage, fair trade and rare bean bars, chocolate has become a distinctly grownup affair. In this episode Bob must master the tempering and blending of his own unique chocolate creation under the watchful eye of his mentor, a master chocolatier. Bob learns the ins-and-outs of the world’s favorite confection and then enters his unique wearable chocolate creation in a Chocolate Hat Fashion Show in the Salon Passion Chocolat & de la Gourmandise in Montreal. Along the way, Bob submerges himself into a complex world of chocolate and millinery! Think Willie Wonka meets “Project Runway.”
Bob Blumer is an instantly recognizable television personality who is best known as the creator and host of the Food Network series “The Surreal Gourmet,” a two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Best Information Program.
Bob is also the author of four cookbooks. He has also written for Salon.com, Men’s Health and WineX and is a regular contributor to Cuisine (an award-winning New Zealand food and wine magazine).
As a chef, Bob transforms common ingredients into wow-inspiring dishes through the whimsical presentations and unusual cooking methods that are his trademark. His artful approach to cooking combined with his confidence-inspiring instructions and contagious enthusiasm have given him a loyal following.
As the host of “Glutton for Punishment,” Bob channels his love of food and his natural competitiveness into a series of culinary adventures that are inspiring, entertaining and often amusing. In every episode, he takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
It comes as no surprise that many of Bob’s interests and escapades inspire the episodes of “Glutton for Punishment.” The transplanted Canadian currently lives in the Hollywood Hills in the shadows of the Hollywood sign. When he is not traveling for work or pleasure, which is most of the time, he cycles daily in the canyons near his home doing his best to stay in shape for his next big adventure.