Rainer F. "Bumps" Baldauf Noted restaurateur and restaurant kitchen designer, passed away Sun, July 23. Bumps played a significant role in the Northern California culinary world for a generation. He will be remembered best for the infectious enthusiasm with which he approached all that he did and helped create. Bumps was born in Ross to Fritz and Ollo Baldauf of Germany, June 20, 1928. Two years later, they moved to San Francisco. German was spoken at home; Bumps learned English at the Grattan Grammar School. An avid athlete from an early age, Bumps became a "juvenile" member of the Olympic Club in 1938 and retained this Club's membership throughout his life. Swimming was his strongest event, and with his Lowell High School classmates, won a City championship, with a record that stood for many years. His college years at Cal found him on the varsity water polo team which won the NCAA championship in 1949. Bumps was a member of the DKE fraternity. Bumps was also an avid skier. He was captain of the Cal Ski Team and went on to do his military service in post-WWII Germany, where he had the opportunity to ski competitively. Because of Bumps' fluency in German, he was posted to the US Army Intelligence Unit where he interviewed refugees fleeing East Germany, as well as German soldiers who had been interned in the Soviet Union. After military service Bumps took his GI Bill to the Cornell Hotel School and earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management. At Cornell he met his wife of 50 years, Bea Weicker. There were married in 1956. After graduating from Cornell Bumps returned to California to manage the Portuguese Bend Club in Los Angeles, and then returned to SF, where he spent the next 14 years at Trader Vic's, including the Trader in Vic's New York City and opening the Wash. DC restaurant. He returned permanently to SF in 1963 and continued in various roles building the Trader Vic's organization. This included helping create and open Señor Pico's, the flagship restaurant for the newly renovated Ghirardelli Square. During these years he also worked with a group of friends to create the Boreal Ridge Ski Area. He served as a director of the Boreal Ridge Ski Corp. for many years. Sailing on his Islander 37 "Windsong" was his favorite relaxation. Beginning in 1972, family summers were spent in the Delta at Grindstone Joe's, living on Windsong. Everybody learned to water-ski, and Bumps took his turn as director and President of the Grindstone Joe Assn. In the early 1970s Bumps left Trader Vic's to open his own restaurant, the Graff Zeppelin. By 1980 he embarked on a second career to design restaurant kitchens. These were the exciting years when rotisseries, pizza ovens, espresso machines, even pasta cookers came out of the kitchen and became part of the restaurant décor and atmosphere. Bumps sought out the best fabricators in Italy and worked with top stainless steel fabricators from the Berlin Food Company. The challenges and excitement of completing a restaurant kitchen for opening day was ever a thrill for him, and he was always proud that his backup could handle all manner of last minute detail and "never let me down." The list of Bumps' clients from 1980-2000 is a Who's Who of the Northern California food scene. He took great pride in working with young chefs and restaurateurs and their architects to help them realize their dreams. Bumps retired in 2001 and spent his weekends at The Sea Ranch. He took endless delight in his growing number of grandchildren: Jack and Béa Pierrepont, Fritz and Liesl Baldauf, and Eva Baldauf and her sibling that Bumps was happy to know was on the way. His own kitchen now had a rotisserie and pizza oven, and he took great pleasure in teaching everyone, from age 2 to 82, how to put together a pizza and slide it in and out of the wood burning oven. He also kept two beehives. In addition to his beloved wife Bea and three children, Hans, Lisa and Karl, their spouses, Marian Baldauf, Jay Pierrepont and Lizann Baldauf, and grandchildren; he is survived by his sister Marianne and her son Clyde and daughter Liz. A Memorial Service will be held at 4 pm, Thurs, Aug. 3, at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, Union and Steiner Sts., SF, with valet parking. Donations in Bumps' memory may be made to the Olympic Club Foundation (supporting of Bay Area youth athletics), PO Box 280608, SF, CA 94128 (www.olyclubfdn.org, 415-778-4042) or a charity of your choice.
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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Jul. 30, 2006.