After five seasons of creating such fantastical dishes as poached salmon cooked in a dishwasher, Bob Blumer, a.k.a. the Surreal Gourmet, has decided to switch it up. In his new show, Glutton for Punishment, Blumer is thrown into food- and drink-related challenges with only a few days to prepare. The show is slated to air this spring on the Food Network in Canada and Fine Living in the United States. The author of four cookbooks, Montreal-raised Blumer one-time manager of Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry and a graduate of the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business's honours program in business administration talked to Canadian Business about his new show, his career and the brand that has become the Surreal Gourmet.
CB: Tell me about Glutton for Punishment.
Blumer: In every episode I'm embedded in a physically daunting food or wine adventure. In most cases, I have five days to learn everything I need to know before I'm thrown to the wolves.
CB: So there will be some element of teaching people the topic?
Blumer: The idea is that even if I didn't have the challenge, the episode would be like a Discovery program on the topic. For instance, I'm going to cycle one full stage of the Tour de France that ends with the Alpe D'Huez climb, and learn all about cycling nutrition.
CB: How has business school helped you in your career?
Blumer: I loved business school. I went for the education not as a means to an end of getting a corporate job. When you manage artists, you help brand them and try to find room in the marketplace for what they do. I didn't set out to create a brand with the Surreal Gourmet, I just set out on this big adventure. At this point, I'm exploiting a brand created out of my accidental career. I've reinvented myself with this new show. You have to do that because you can't build a brand and think it's going to last forever and keep people's interest.
CB: How did you get your first show on television?
Blumer: By writing cookbooks, making hundreds of TV appearances and developing my ability to perform on TV, because that's not something that comes naturally.
CB: Would you ever consider going back to the music business?
Blumer: No. Once you become the artist, it's really hard to go back and be the manager.