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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Richard Blais Bio

Most recognizable as the winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, Richard Blais has played an influential role in hospitality for the last 15 years. He began his career, as so many young aspiring chefs do, as the "poissonnier" at McDonald's. It was here that he first dabbled in deconstruction in cuisine, serving Filet-O-Fish sandwiches sans top bun. His developing passion for food and the service industry led Richard to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. As an ambitious student, he spent time between semesters studying at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., under renowned Chef Thomas Keller and alongside then-rising stars Grant Achatz and Eric Ziebold. Upon graduating from the CIA in 1998, Richard ventured to New York for the opportunity to work with Chef Daniel Boulud at his famous flagship, Restaurant Daniel. Richard then followed his professional compass to Roses, Spain, where he completed a brief stage at El Bulli with culinary wizard Ferran Adrià. In 2000 Richard relocated to Atlanta to oversee a local seafood concept. His wildly creative approach to cooking and cuisine led to the establishment of Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company that has consulted on, designed and operated some of Atlanta's most-popular eateries, including multiple outposts of Flip Burger Boutique and HD-1. He recently launched The Spence, a restaurant concept in midtown Atlanta, and opened Juniper & Ivy, in San Diego, where he offers a refined approach to American cuisine and showcases the seasonal and local ingredients of California. In Richard's debut cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, he reveals a simplified approach to adventurous cooking by sharing new flavor combinations and textures to reinvent home cooks' classic dishes. Each of the 125 recipes is straightforward enough to make at home, but for those who want to try using liquid nitrogen or a sous-vide machine, Richard offers fun variations on his recipes that add another level of excitement in the kitchen. Try This at Home was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in 2014 in the Cookbook: General Cooking category. In December 2013 Richard appeared as the host of a brand-new television program entitled Cook Your Ass Off. The show, which aired on the HLN network, is a transformational culinary contest that focuses on the health struggles of everyday people. Talented chef contestants are pitted against each other in a three-round competition to transform daily indulgences into healthy and delicious meals. Richard has also appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as in numerous publications, including The New York Times, InStyle and Food & Wine magazine.