GET OFF MY SCREEN: Nominee #1 – Bob Blumer
Well, folks: It’s Friday, Tina isn’t around (say it with me, “Again?!”), and that means it’s time for me to hate on celebrity chefs!
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to do this, mostly because we try to keep the entirely mean-spirited content to a minimum (ha ha ha ha, I nearly got that out without laughing) around here, but also because there’s been a tragic lack of really interesting new famous cooks lately.
I mean, who am I supposed to rag on? Anthony Sedlak? Does anyone outside of Canada (…or British Columbia… or Vancouver) even know who he is? Would it help if I showed you a picture?
I know! It doesn’t help at all. The guy is the very essence of generic, pea-coated Pacific Coast Young Chef. The very act of looking at him is so aggressively boring that you probably thought I was trying to make you scrutinize the brick wall. But NO! I mean him: The one possibly cut out of a wax block, taught phrases like, “Nothing beats local!” and filmed until he can wag his hands enough over some food to produce a meal.
There isn’t enough interesting about him to inspire a sentence, let alone an entire article — and this represents the next generation of television hosts! What is a twisted, heartless, and oh-so-very angry television viewer to do? Upon whom shall I vent my engorged spleen?
So it is that I will turn to you all for help. Everyone knows that the Barefoot Contessa is kind of a dick, but it’s time for me to find a new target of hatred, who I will wear down with my passive-aggressive scorn as the river might polish a stone, but in a win-win kind of way. That is, I get to pour forth as much fury as possible, and hopefully the target will eventually be obliterated.
Here’s how it will work: I will occasionally produce nominees for the GET OFF MY SCREEN hate award, and ask for your input as dedicated voters and consumers of pop culture. The case for utter rage will be presented, and it will be up to you to vote as to whether this person deserves to advance into the rage-finals. If a majority votes yes, then they advance to the final pool for a votedown; if the majority votes no, then I will be forced to watch the individual without further complaint, compressing my loathing into a black ball in my gut where it will doubtlessly do me no further harm.
Cool? Great! Onto the first nominee:
I had always kind of thought Bob Blumer was okay, until I started dating Tina and watching the Food Network with her. If his face even appeared on the screen, it was equivalent to an F5 tornado making contact with the couch next to me — except with swearing. A tornado that rates a 5 on the Fujita scale, if the Fujita scale measured violent outbursts of profane language and some flailing.
“God damned BOB BLUMER! Ohhhhh, son of a bitch, that man– GOD he makes me so ANGRY! BOB BLUUUMERRRRRR!“
And it wasn’t like she’d react this way the first time she saw him, and then maybe just grumble every commercial break afterwards. She’d explode like this every time, so infinite is the rage that he provokes in her guts.
Asking her about it wasn’t really productive, because all she could produce was vague charges that he was “totally full of shit”, and “I hate him so much, argh”. Neither of which is really helpful in gathering information that might change my perspective, given that I had always thought he was a pretty all right TV host. He drives around in the kitschy toaster, right? Look! He’s steaming salmon in a dishwasher, that’s amusing. And… uhhh…
It was around that time that I realized I had not actually retained anything that I watched Bob Blumer do. I’d watch lots of his shows on Sunday mornings, mostly when hangovers prevented me from achieving anything other than a basic level of awareness, but I couldn’t (and still can’t) actually remember anything he’s done. Before you object that cooking shows are by their nature forgettable, I can actually remember recipes that Ingrid Hoffman “cooked” on her show — and considering that most of what she has to offer is an exaggerated accent and nice hair, that’s saying something.
And then you really think about it: Blumer’s entire schtick is to make entirely boring things in a goofy kind of way… but no matter what dishwasher you use, steamed salmon is still steamed salmon. There it is, with the capers and the lemons and the onions, wrapped in tinfoil. Yep, you’re right, the oven probably wouldn’t have wasted as much water, now that I think about it. So great, you get kind of standard recipes that are presented entertainingly — but since duplicating what Blumer does is often more work than doing it the standard way, how much are you going to bother retaining of his show? Which kind of makes the whole thing a bit pointless. Let’s face it, when you can learn more from Rachel Ray, you’ve got a problem with the concept of your show.
Watch his guests, too, the generally hapless folks he brings into his trailer and invites to learn from him. Almost without exception, they stand uncomfortably until he gives them something trivial to do, ask awkward questions when they think he’s forgotten about them, and then eat whatever the end product is (regardless of their sometimes apparent horror). It brings acutely to mind the horrible childhood experience of being asked to go help your aunt/uncle/grandmother/relation-just-distant-enough-that-you-have-no-rapport in the kitchen, when they have pretty much no use for you. You’d end up standing there stirring whatever you couldn’t harm, while they were forced to work around you, all so you can enjoy their spaghetti squash.
Plus, let’s not forget that Blumer is of the “not formally trained, but I’m a chef now” school, where because he’s cooked on TV and published some books. He hasn’t actually worked as one anywhere, ever, nor does he have any certification as such. But it still didn’t stop him from sitting on a talk show I saw once and say, “In my mind, people should leave a dinner party of mine hungry. It isn’t about the quantity of food you serve, it’s about how good it is.” Which would be fine if you had a background in haute cuisine and spent years learning how to place a single stalk of asparagus on a plate in such a fashion as to convince restaurant patrons you’re an artist.
But you’re a novelty, Bob Blumer! You flip pancakes for World Records! You take the long way around to cooking boring foods! You’re actually kind of a jerk sometimes, even to the guests on your show! ALL YOU HAVE IS QUANTITY! YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO GET BY ON QUALITY! YOU DON’T EVEN DO COOKING SHOWS ANY MORE, YOU DO ONES WHERE YOU’RE ATTACKED BY BEES, WHICH IS ABOUT RIGHT ACTUALLY! WHY ARE YOU ON TV EVERY OTHER DAY!