“Glutton for Punishment” host Bob Blumer, right, explains his latest challenge to the cameras and crew as violinist Jonathan Spatola-Knoll ’11, center, plays mocking tribute to the tears caused by so many raw onions.
The Food Network Canada TV show “Glutton for Punishment” converted the Prentiss Dining Hall kitchen into a make-shift television studio last week – casting Bon Appétit executive chef Christian Chemin in the perfect supporting role. As part of his “15 minutes of fame,” Chef Chemin, an award-winning French-born chef, spent several days teaching the finer points of onion peeling to the show’s host, Bob Blumer, as cameras and crew documented the intense training sessions.
Known as a “culinary adventurer,” Blumer was in town to attempt to break two onion-related Guinness World records – onion peeling and hot onion eating – at the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival. With the previous record of 50 pounds of onions peeled in less than three and a half minutes set by Alan St. Jean in 1980, Blumer recruited Chef Chemin to help coach him into the famous record book in just five days.
By Friday afternoon, Blumer was 20 seconds shy of the original record. “The record is three minutes and 18 seconds, and that’s what I’ve got to beat,” he said. “It’s all about speed right now.”
With sheer determination and a few close calls with his razor-sharp Japanese knife, Blumer headed to Sunday’s competition with bridled confidence. “I think I’ve got a chance, but this is a really tough one. The Guinness record has stood for 30 years for a reason,” he said.
In the end, Blumer undeniably benefited from Chef Chemin’s coaching, smashing the previous record by nearly 40 seconds before a cheering crowd of spectators and an official Guinness World Records representative. The new record to beat: 50 pounds of onions in an astonishing two minutes, 39 seconds.
Chef Chemin’s “Glutton for Punishment” appearance will be part of the show’s fifth season, which will begin airing early next year. For more information on the show, click here.
Bob Blumer lets out a mighty roar after setting the new world record for fastest onion peeling at Sunday’s Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival.