Bob Blumer Bio

Cookbook author, artist and professional bon vivant Bob Blumer, host of The Surreal Gourmet, is one of today's most imaginative food personalities. Whether he is poaching salmon in a dishwasher or concocting recipes in his own Pee-wee's Playhouse-like kitchen, his contagious enthusiasm helps transform everyday meals into a dining adventures.

Bob's accidental culinary career began in 1991, when he wrote and illustrated his first book, The Surreal Gourmet: Real Food for Pretend Chefs (Chronicle Books, 1992). Despite (or perhaps because of) a lack of formal training, his unique approach to cooking and entertaining, and his confidence-inspiring instructions quickly endeared him to a loyal following. The San Francisco Chronicle called the book "an instant classic and possibly the wittiest and most sensible how-to cookbook of the decade." It was also a year-end recommendation in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times Book Review, and picked by the Book of the Month Club and Better Homes & Gardens Book Club.

Three years later, Bob proved that anyone with a dysfunctional kitchen and mismatched place settings can throw a killer dinner party with The Surreal Gourmet Entertains: High-Fun, Low-Stress Dinner Parties for 6 - 12 (Chronicle Books, 1995). Unceremoniously thrust onto the talk show circuit, Blumer made more than 400 TV appearances on three continents, including all major U.S. network morning shows.

Blumer's third cookbook, Off The Eaten Path: Inspired Recipes for Adventurous Cooks (Ballantine Books, May 2000), features his trademark blend of practicality and eccentricity, packed with recipes, anecdotes, culinary adventures, and his own whimsical food-related illustrations and objets d'art. The book was awarded "most innovative cookbook" at the prestigious World Cookbook Fair in Périgueux, France. To promote it, Blumer embarked on an ambitious 30-city, three-month odyssey in a Toastermobile — an Airstream trailer customized with a $50,000 stainless steel industrial kitchen and topped with two eight-foot slices of toast. The tour was covered extensively in both local and national media, including features on CNN and in People magazine.

As the food flew, Blumer dove corkscrew first into the world of wine. He has since written many wine-related stories, including his favorite — a first-person account of running the Medoc marathon, a 26.2 mile race in Bordeaux, France, that winds past 24 picturesque chateaux. Participants sample fine wine at each winery. Since 1999 Blumer has been a judge at the Los Angeles County Fair and the San Francisco wine competitions.

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Bob Tuschman

Bob Tuschman serves as General Manager/Senior Vice President for Food Network and appears as a judge on Food Network Star. Find out more on Food Network.

Marc Murphy Bio

Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he'll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington, D.C., Rome and Genoa — "and that's before I turned 12," he’ll explain. This dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine, though as a teenager this was not his first passion. When the reality hit that he didn't have the funds to become a professional racecar driver, Marc followed his brother to the Institute of Culinary Education. After graduation he apprenticed at restaurants in France and Italy before returning to New York, where he landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan's Prix Fixe. He stayed there for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Brennan’s Sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak. Eager to return to Europe, Marc flew to Paris and landed a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for one-and-a-half years. Afterward, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where Executive Chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Marc's skills that he personally made arrangements for him to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once he returned to the States. Marc still considers Portay to be his greatest teacher. "Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most-vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation," he recalls. Following Le Cirque, Fortunato tapped him to work as a sous chef at Layla, Drew Nieporent's Middle Eastern fantasy in Tribeca, where he met consultant Georges Masraff. When Masraff joined forces to open Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, he recruited Marc to serve as executive chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from The New York Times, Marc headed uptown to serve as executive chef of La Fourchette, where NYT critic Ruth Reichl awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his "open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad ... looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir." In March 2004 Marc opened his first solo enterprise with Landmarc [Tribeca], which won rave reviews both for its eclectic French and Italian menu as well as its highly untraditional wine list. Following its success, Marc opened Ditch Plains in the West Village in 2006 serving casual, beach-style cuisine such as lobster rolls, fish tacos and the infamous ditch dog, as well as other comfort food favorites. In 2007 Marc was given the opportunity to open another Landmarc restaurant in the pres­tigious Time Warner Center, where he brought his bistro-style cuisine midtown. In October 2013 Marc opened Kingside at the Viceroy New York hotel on New York's iconic West 57th Street, serving his interpretation of New American cuisine. Marc's restaurants now fall under the Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy name, where he acts as executive chef and owner. In addition to the restaurants, Marc also heads up the company's catering division, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, where his signature style of accessible contemporary cuisine transcends the boundaries of what is offered in his restaurant locations. Today Marc's involvement in the industry moves beyond the restaurants as well, with a regular role as a judge on Food Network's top-rated hit Chopped as well as appearances on other hit series such as Guy's Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay and Worst Cooks in America. Marc also appears on The Rachael Ray Show and The Today Show, among others. He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp, as well as a member of the Food + Finance High School's Industry Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. In 2012 Marc joined the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States. Marc's debut cookbook, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking, was released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2015.

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