TAMPA — Bob Blumer has built a cottage industry out of playing with his food. And at least part of the credit for that goes to the Salvador Dalí Museum.
He released his first cookbook, a collection of bachelor-pad favorites called The Surreal Gourmet, almost two decades ago. He illustrated it himself, showcasing food and ingredients in the style of his surrealist artist heroes. But it was done out of necessity: It was simply cheaper for him to do it himself.
The concept was enough to get his book into the gift shop of the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, and he was invited to cook dinner here.
That, coupled with a review of the book that questioned the lack of surreal food in the book, focused him.
"I might have just had the one cookbook and been out," Blumer said Sunday aboard Holland America's Ryndam at a fundraiser for the Dalí Museum Guild. "It changed the direction of the style of my cooking. It gave me a signature."
That signature — which is to take simple, fresh food and present it in fun, whimsical ways — has led to four more cookbooks and two television series.
"I use food, instead of paint, as my medium. What I do is teach aspiring cooks that they can do it, too."
Jim Webster, Times food critic