Ever since he was a schoolboy growing up in Montreal, Bob Blumer’s appetite for competition has been insatiable.

A post-Halloween contest to see which student could bring in the most candy for charity from their loot of sweets found Blumer in a Catch-22. He loved candy. He loved competition. How could he part with one to satisfy the other?

“It killed me, but that’s how competitive I am. I was willing to sacrifice one of my favourite things,” he recalls. Presented with the alternatives, Blumer bit the bonbon bullet, shedding sweets to succeed.

It’s that same zeal that drives Blumer on his challenge-oriented television program Glutton for Punishment, which debuts its third season on the Food Network tonight. The show follows Blumer through a different food-related challenge on each episode, with only five days to prepare for a feat that typically requires much longer to overcome.

But instead of raising candy, he’s raising the stakes. This season sees Blumer attempt such tests as breaking the Guinness World Record for the most pancakes made in one hour at the Calgary Stampede, and competing against deep sea diving fisherman for who can collect the most sea urchins on one oxygen tank off the coast of British Columbia.

“I didn’t really expect that there would be a reasonable chance of death in the sea urchin diving episode until we got a little bit foolish and pushed the envelope a little too far,” says Blumer.

Despite being spotted a third of each of his competitors’ oxygen, Blumer nearly drowned during the challenge. “I was literally tangled in kelp when I ran out of air,” he says, sucking in swiftly and popping his lips to imitate the sensation.

Although he says he felt infallible going into the challenge, the attached danger barely seems to faze him now, even given the potentially deadly consequences he faced. “I’m always going for it, because I’m competitive and I’m vain,” he says with a laugh, “It’s a bad combination.”

In Glutton for Punishment, Blumer combines his love for competition with his love of food, placing greater emphasis on the culinary in this round, following prior stints as a cookbook author and host of cooking show The Surreal Gourmet. But it’s not just food Blumer’s a glutton for.

“I’m not a moderation person. I eat too much, drink too much, exercise too much…” he says, “(It’s) not necessarily something I would suggest other people subscribe to, but so far it’s worked for me!”