What does a chef who is best known for cooking up meals in strange situations and deliberating exposing himself to almost impossible challenges do for his next series? In Bob Blumer's case, he switches to the other side of the table and investigates all the places where food is served up in wacky ways.
Blumer's new show, "World's Weirdest Restaurants," starts this week, airing Wednesdays on Food Network Canada. Showing off the strangest stuff going on in the food industry, the premise seems simple enough, but Blumer found that things aren't always what they seem.
"We looked at hundreds of restaurants, and honestly, our biggest problem was when things just weren't weird enough," he told The Huffington Post Canada. "We need layers. The [orange-shaped] Orange Julep in Montreal, for example, is weird in one sense -- the physical sense -- but it's a one-note weirdness."
With each episode consisting of four separate spots for a total of 52 restaurants, Blumer had a chance to experience plenty of layers, in everything from being served by macaques at a Japanese izakaya ("they don't talk back," the owner quips) to being surrounded by naked people at a pop up nudist restaurant in New York City.
For someone who's used to creating and eating great food, however, he does admit that the tastebuds sometimes need to take a backseat to shock value.
"I live for food, but I was forced to let go of that when we were shooting this -- a lot of the time the food is secondary to the experience,' he says. "But sometimes the environment really helps the food along, like at the prison restaurant in Tokyo. The food was good, but when you’re in a cage and you’re eating chicken in a cage, it all kind of goes together, and in the moment, it seems so much tastier."
Certain areas were rich with weirdness -- they filmed more than 15 restaurants in Tokyo, and Blumer particularly loves Taiwan, where he discovered Modern Toilet, a place where the porcelain throne reigns supreme. But which country was the biggest disappointment for strangeness? None other than Blumer's home and native land.
"Canada just did not have weird restaurants," Blumer said. "We shot two pop ups in Vancouver that were fun, but still on the tamer side. We Canadians do have our weirdness, like Martin Picard's Au Pied de Cochon, but often, it's still just one note."
Check out ten of the weirdest restaurants Bob Blumer visited on his travels -- and check out the show Wednesdays: