Canadian chef uses maple bacon ice cream to win U.S. contest
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, August 21, 2009 3:02PM EDT
TORONTO - Celebrity food enthusiast Bob Blumer says his Canadian palate helped him take top honours at a recent ice cream making contest in Austin, Tex.
His winning flavour? Maple bacon crunch.
"I think it's the first time anyone who doesn't live in Austin won the prize," the Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based gourmet said Friday during a stop in the city.
"It was a bit of an upset."
Blumer -- who will appear at the Ontario Science Centre on Saturday -- filmed the ice cream contest last week for his TV series, "Glutton for Punishment," in which he takes on wacky and sometimes dangerous food-related challenges.
The episode will be part of Season 4, set to air at the beginning of next year on Food Network Canada.
Blumer said it was the first time he'd ever made ice cream, aside from an experimental version he once created with a salad spinner and a plastic bag on his previous TV show, "Surreal Gourmet."
While bacon and ice cream is a rather unusual combination, it was a hit with taste testers in a pre-contest poll, he said.
The adventurous foodie had candied the bacon the night before the showdown at the Austin Ice Cream Festival.
But when he awoke in the morning, it was chewy due to a heat wave in Austin.
"I had this crazy idea at the last second to make a bacon brittle," Blumer said in an interview, noting he folded the chopped bacon into a pot of melted sugar.
The process of how sugar breaks down in food will be one of the topics at Blumer's "Food Science -- Unearthed" showcase at the science centre.
As Blumer cooks, food scientists and dietitians will provide a molecular breakdown of his meals.
On his "sci-fry" menu is "pub bread," gravlax (salt-cured salmon) and "popcorn cauliflower," which involves roasting the vegetable until it caramelizes.
"I always tell my friends that it's a great way to really trick their kids into eating cauliflower," he says of the dish, which he originally created on "The Surreal Gourmet."
Celebrity chefs have been dropping in at the science centre all summer to participate in the "Food: Sink Your Teeth Into Science" program.
Blumer, who calls himself a "culinary adventurer" as he is not a certified chef, said he'll be learning just as much as a kids will during his showcase.
"I never really stop to think that there is actually a lot of science involved in some of my very simple dishes," he said. "I'm going to be the biggest kid there."