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Andrew Zimmern on the Deeper Meaning Behind 'Bizarre Foods'

Andrew Zimmern on the Deeper Meaning Behind 'Bizarre Foods'

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As Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods returns for its seventh season (ninth if you count two seasons of Bizarre Foods America), it could be easy to think of the show as simply a camera following a man who travels around eating crazy food. And while there’s certainly plenty of that, and it’s incredibly fun to watch, there’s always been a deeper layer, hiding just below the surface, one that sheds light on dying foodways, environmental issues, and fading cuisines. And in this season, according to Zimmern, there will be a pronounced emphasis on bringing these issues, and ways to solve them, to light.

Take snakehead, for example. In the season’s first episode, Zimmern travels to Washington, D.C. to go bowfishing for the invasive fish, which has been killing off bass in the area. "The fish is delicious, but you need to work hard to figure it out," Zimmern told The Daily Meal. "But thanks to a local wholesaler with an entrepreneurial spirit, creating sustainable pathways both economic and cultural, he’s working to solve this environmental problem. And in the hands of a masterful chef, it’s an incredible food."

Each episode will touch on the effort underway to educate folks about the amazing food that’s available to them if they know where to find it. "The fact that there are hungry people everywhere when there are delicious products available if you just know how to cook them properly, that’s hard for me to swallow," Zimmern said.

"We learn about culture through food," he added. "Whether it’s snakehead or a disappearing way of life in South Carolina — oystermen, shrimpers, and crabbers — both of these are being affected due to environmental issues. If these traditions die out, then not only will these people lose their way of life, we will lose that connection to our food. Awareness, education, and communication can solve most of these problems."

For example, Zimmern travels to the Ozarks and joins up with Arkansans who hunt for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, making delicious meals out of found foods because they’ve been taught how to cook with them.

For Zimmern, though, it’s not just about educating people on the food in their backyard. "It’s about bringing people up to speed on the changing nature of the world," he said. "We’ve become so insular, almost isolationist. We’re afraid of other people. But we need to define ourselves by what brings us together, not what separates us."

Andrew Zimmern: The business behind ‘Bizarre’

How Andrew Zimmern is morphing a hit cable TV show into a diversified, branded network of businesses.

In 20 years, Andrew Zimmern has evolved from just another addict on a plane to Hazelden to a brand occupying billboards, airwaves, bookshelves, and cyberspace.

He commands big dollars to give a speech, cannot walk through an airport without being mobbed, and is host of one of the most-watched shows on cable television. And he’s on the verge of breaking out of his TV box to helm a diversified conglomerate of businesses.

If food is not your sweet spot or cable TV is not your medium, the longtime host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern may have claimed but a small kernel of your awareness. But if you populate his cultural space, he is an ever-bigger deal. He is without a doubt the most prominent celebrity to call the Twin Cities home. The buzzy social influence website, which invites users to rate people’s influence in their fields, labeled Zimmern in 2011 as the most influential celebrity chef in the world. He has half a million followers on Twitter and an equivalent number of “likes” on Facebook. New Bizarre Foods episodes draw the largest audiences on Travel Channel, and the show’s ratings are as good or better than at any time in his seven years on the network. says Bizarre Foods earns Zimmern more than $35,000 an episode, and he is reported to earn a similar amount to appear on a dais at a corporate event. He was recently featured in People magazine, attended the White House Easter egg hunt with his family (as guests of the Obamas) and stood at Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday party alongside Bill Clinton and George Clooney. There, rapper LL Cool J asked for a photo with Zimmern for his kids.

To put it mildly, things are moving very fast right now for Zimmern and his St. Louis Park-based company, Food Works, Inc. Ground zero is a small suite of offices off Excelsior Boulevard, where Zimmern is only present a couple of days each month, but is staffed daily by four longtime associates. Zimmern’s taupe office is decorated with ribald photos, strange souvenirs from his travels, bottles of barbecue sauce, and magazines piled everywhere. On office days he comes to work in a flannel shirt, jeans, and shoes with no socks.

Zimmern is not quite the lovable cultural naïf you see on the Travel Channel. Behind his persona of a dapper, well-bred regular-guy explorer lurks the intensity of a persistent and ambitious businessman who has been willing to sacrifice nearly a decade of his life to celebrity and its trappings, good and evil. It’s a heady story, to be sure, but even headier if you know Zimmern’s well-chronicled back story.

Halfway House to Halfway There

Born into privilege on New York’s Upper East Side, a graduate of Vassar College, trained as a professional chef, Zimmern saw his life derailed by drug and alcohol addiction, losing nearly his entire twenties to various bouts of it, hitting bottom when he became homeless for nearly a year on those same Manhattan streets. He arrived in the Twin Cities two decades ago, banished by his loved ones to Hazelden. This time, the cure took.

“My sobriety is now almost 21 years long and is the result of finally cratering my life to the point I was either going to die an alcoholic death or not,” Zimmern explains. “I credit my friends, family, Hazelden, and the 12-step community of the Twin Cities with helping me get and stay sober. I went through the usual wringer of jails/institutions/drunk tanks and several treatment attempts none lasted—until the one at the beginning of my current sobriety.”

Zimmern’s second job out of Hazelden, in May 1992, was as busboy at the acclaimed café un deux trois in the Foshay Tower under owner Michael Morse. He quickly rose to become its most celebrated executive chef. “We were selling two whole terrines, 40 portions—in Minneapolis—a night,” Zimmern recalls. “I remember telling Michael, ‘We have the hot hand,’ we need to expand into tangential businesses. I thought we could get into catering, a lunch counter—hell, T-shirts.

“Michael didn’t want to push it, but I’m the least risk-averse person in the world,” Zimmern says. “I’m a ‘bright shiny objects’ guy. I’m always looking for what’s next.”

But rather than ride the gravy train to wherever it takes him, Zimmern, 51, and a small group of Twin Cities-based advisers, is taking a different approach, using his celebrity to build a diversified universe of businesses that will insulate him from the mercurial world of cable TV. It’s an approach that has cost Zimmern a great deal of effort, taken a toll on his personal life, and limited his short-term earning potential, in service of more far-reaching goals.

“Andrew is extremely strategic,” says Tom Wiese, Zimmern’s Plymouth-based attorney and deal advisor. “He realizes things he does today may not pay dividends for a long time.”

The Vision Thing

During Zimmern’s years of addiction he lost a budding partnership with one of New York City’s most successful food entrepreneurs, Steve Hanson, founder of B. R. Guest Hospitality, which operates 27 restaurants and bars around the country and was sold to Starwood Capital in 2007 for $150 million.

Zimmern left Hazelden determined to return to the food business, but then left un deux trois in 1998, frustrated. When a boutique hotel/restaurant project with Kieran Folliard at the site of the Local on Nicollet Mall fell through, he opened Lee Lynch’s Backstage at Bravo restaurant/event space concept blocks away at 9th and Hennepin. But, he says, “I realized I couldn’t implement the partners’ vision.

“I kept trying to change myself to get along,” he continues, “but I eventually realized being in business for other people wasn’t for me.” So he left Bravo and the business of cooking.

“I decided to trust my gut,” Zimmern says. “I see steps ahead. I see food trends two years out. And I saw a media side of food where the doors were still open, but I wasn’t sure how long that would last. I saw the trend of ‘fringe foods’ and created Bizarre Foods. My work isn’t derivative.”

This was prescient stuff more than a decade ago. “Food has evolved from niche content to mainstream culture in a decade,” says AJ Marechal, who covers TV for the entertainment industry trade Variety. “TV and the Internet took food out of the kitchen.”

But the skids were not exactly greased for Zimmern, so he offered himself as a restaurant consultant to earn a paycheck, and his clients at the time say Zimmern’s sense of his instincts is more than hubris. “Andrew did an Irish gastropub menu for me in 1996 or ’97 that was years ahead of its time,” says Folliard, who also founded Kieran’s, the Liffey, and Cooper Pub, and sold his 2 Gingers Whiskey to Beam, Inc., in December. “He had great foresight to see where dining was going, stuff that New York restaurants like the Spotted Pig would do to great acclaim many years later.”

But Zimmern mainly devoted himself to exploiting possibilities in media. He started reviewing restaurants and writing an insider-type column for MplsStPaul Magazine in 2001, a low-return gig that nonetheless had high visibility among the town’s influentials. He began weekly taped food segments for UPN9’s Good Day Minnesota, which became FOX9 Morning News. He was house-chef for HGTV’s TIPical Mary Ellen and Rebecca’s Garden, wrote for the Life Time Fitness magazine, and taught classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill.

“But it was paycheck to paycheck,” Zimmern says. “My credit cards were maxed out. I decided I needed representation.” He consulted with Mendes Napoli, the former KSTP-TV news director who had relocated to California as a talent agent. “He told me I was not salable enough. I knew I was a ‘tweener,’ and it wasn’t going to be simple.”

(Food & Wine magazine Editor in Chief Dana Cowin, who publishes Zimmern’s recipes and writing, says it took her two years to figure out how to use Zimmern after falling in love with his more recent work.)

Zimmern had been introduced to a young entertainment lawyer, Tom Wiese. He knew a local literary agent, John Larson, who was starting his own talent agency. All three were in similar career evolutions. “They said ‘We can grow this thing together,’ ” Zimmern recalls.

“Andrew said he wanted a [close] Jerry Maguire kind of partnership,” says Larson, who now functions as Zimmern’s business manager.

They shot a pilot, Food Freaks, for public TV. “It was OK,” Zimmern says. “But everyone said I had the presence to do commercial TV.” A colleague at channel 9 suggested Zimmern talk to Tremendous Entertainment, helmed by former WCCO anchor Colleen Needles, which had some small successes placing low-profile cable fare. “Colleen liked the idea for Bizarre Foods, so we filmed a 10-minute sample at an elk farm about eating elk testicles and ostrich,” Zimmern says.

Tremendous pitched the idea to Travel Channel, which funded a longer test segment filmed in rural Louisiana. That led to two full-fledged pilots, Bizarre Foods Asia and Ballpark Eats, airing regularly in random reruns to strong ratings. Still, Tremendous and Zimmern spent three years in limbo, through 9/11, ownership and management changes at Travel Channel (which moved from Discovery to Cox to current owner Scripps), and negotiations with other networks.

“I talked to Food Network,” Zimmern says, “but I thought I’d get lost there, with Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck. I wanted to be the food guy at Travel Channel.”

Eventually the network bit with an order for six episodes of Bizarre Foods.

Word got out, “and the phone started ringing,” Zimmern says. “I had to fight for a live truck at FOX9, and now they were offering me a weekend anchor role and a syndicated show.” He began a daily radio show on FM107 but quickly departed once the realities of travel for Bizarre Foods hit home.

Today Bizarre Foods is in its seventh year, and a new season of episodes debuts February 11. In 2012 Zimmern spent 35 weeks on the road taping content. In between, he has been building a brand intended to grow businesses. “We have 45 different deals in play today,” Zimmern said last summer.

“A TV show is a terrific commercial for a brand,” explains Zimmern’s New York-based agent, Josh Bider of WME (William Morris Endeavor). The nature of that brand, though, is often prisoner to the TV show.

Not Just the Bug Guy

As Bizarre Foods’ ratings rose and it became one of Travel Channel’s most lucrative properties, Zimmern and his team faced a dilemma. Their talent, a Vassar-educated, globally trained chef and food entrepreneur, was becoming known less as the cultural connector that he fancied himself, and more for eating mealworms out of the dirt, drinking animal blood, and tucking into hunks of rotting meat.

Larson and Wiese wanted to grow Zimmern’s brand, but faced the challenge of losing control of it. The network and producers inevitably emphasized sensational elements of the TV show. There were warnings from friends and advisers that Zimmern was headed into a typecasting box: bizarre.

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain “says ‘TV is a vile mistress,’” Zimmern says. “‘You never know what the future holds, and the leverage wheel goes round and round.’”

Fortunately, the wheel was spinning in Zimmern’s favor, and good fortune came in several forms. One was a disappointing response to a Bizarre Foods spinoff called Bizarre World. Zimmern’s take is the show was not embraced by audiences because they saw Zimmern’s brand as food, not freak. Another was Zimmern’s second contract with the network, which gave him more control over outside ventures, which had been tightly restricted in his first deal.

Zimmern was chafing at the bit. “If you’re not out testing what’s complementary to your brand, you’re not making the most of your income potential,” he says.

The visibility was there. “If you understand how brands are launched,” says Larson, “Travel Channel has been amazing for us. Each show repeats 20 to 30 times [averaging 75,000 viewers per airing] after premiere night.”

But the brand needed to be broader—“not Fear Factor but ‘sharing culture,’ ” explains Larson.

Early on in the Travel Channel era, Larson and Wiese met with Zimmern for a daylong visioning session. “It had a profound accelerating impact on Andrew’s career,” Wiese says. They distilled five pages of thoughts into five values: authenticity, exploration, making a difference, family, sobriety. The goal was to educate in an entertaining fashion. “It was not enough to be the bug guy,” says Larson, referring to Zimmern’s early notoriety.

The vision that was Zimmern’s begat a plan. “Our idea is not to be the best, but be the only one,” says Wiese. “Not to be in a battle with 40 other cooking shows, but to be unique.”

It was a shrewd decision and one that paved the way for future success. “He’s somewhat apart from that set of chefs,” says Cowin. “It’s to his benefit.”

Job one was, after years of absence, to “return Andrew into the culinary world. He was known to the nation as an eater, but not a chef,” says WME’s Bider. “That world is crowded, but it is full of brand extensions—cookbooks, tabletop, pots and pans, food products, food festivals.

Food festivals were key. “They build credibility in the food universe,” explains Bider. “It is an opportunity to be amongst his peers and connect with fans.” By placing Zimmern among the nation’s biggest celebrity chefs without putting him into competition with them, Zimmern was able to reorient his brand in a way that broadened his business horizons.

The appearances with the nation’s elite chefs, the relationships formed with them, and the bonhomie tweeted among them brought Zimmern renown and credibility by association. “Everyone wants to be there to network with their peers,” says New York and South Beach Wine & Food Festival Director Lee Schrager.

“He’s highly regarded in the culinary world,” says Mathew Baxt, senior director of program development at TruTV, who worked with Zimmern on his Appetite for Life videos for Toyota. “These are not people impressed easily.”

Festivals also provide an outlet for fan engagement. “The venues we are most interested in are ones that provide for direct engagement with Andrew’s audience,” says Wiese. “By talking to your audience, you discover what your fans want and how they see you. It’s intentional and it makes the TV show better by extension.”

One of the few areas Zimmern had no shackles was social media—little understood at the network level but which Team Zimmern saw as the ultimate equalizer. “Social media allows you to control your brand,” says Bider.

“The Internet has democratized content, and the gatekeepers are no longer in control,” Zimmern says. “That democracy is wonderful for entrepreneurs. I have half a million Twitter followers. In cable, that’s a really good ratings night. What if I can mobilize half those people to do, watch, or experience something?”

Zimmern’s Twitter feed is an insight into his persona and brand—a mix of product placement, self-promotion, fan engagement, name dropping, complimenting favorite chefs and restaurateurs, and occasional bits of social commentary. Zimmern offers his sympathies when natural disasters strike, his condolences when celebrities die, his political opinion on major issues of the day.

The Tipping Point

Zimmern’s celebrity reached critical mass just recently, in his estimation. Until that point, despite all the hard work and strategizing, his brand was only as strong as his ratings.

“Three years ago,” Zimmern notes, “if the show had a bad six months, I might have sunk and returned to doing local TV or who knows what. But if you survive long enough, you become part of the fabric of pop culture.”

The consensus is he has reached that point. “He has done a good job of branding himself,” says Variety’s Marechal. “There comes a point where your visibility rises enough to be seen as an expert and your status grows exponentially.”

“His brand is incredibly durable,” says Food & Wine’s Cowin. “Travel, communication, taste, skills. It’s a unique package and quite exceptional.”

His team’s belief is that his brand is now bigger than Bizarre Foods and could survive without it, which gives him leverage and opportunity. Early on, Larson and Wiese established ties with the advertising division of Travel Channel, who said Zimmern would be easy to sell.

That’s what Wiese has been doing for several years now. “In general, you can make a great living on TV,” says Wiese, “but you can put a huge multiplier on it with endorsements.” Zimmern is bombarded with opportunity, but says no more often than yes.

“What you don’t do is as important as what you do,” Wiese explains. “We ask several questions: Is it profitable work, factoring in not just money but exposure and relationships we build? Does it fit with Andrew’s core competencies? Is this a partner we want?

One of Zimmern’s earliest deals was with Toyota. “We like to create content with our endorsements” says John Larson. Zimmern’s four seasons of Appetite for Life webisodes explored America’s food culture on road trips in a Toyota. AFL led to a broadcast commercial for the 2012 Camry where Zimmern sat in a Toyota with singer Kelly Clarkson, Bravo’s James Lipton, and ESPN’s Chris Berman.

“If Toyota had proposed to have him eating bugs, it would have been a different conversation,” Larson insists.

The other food celebrity to emerge from Travel Channel is Anthony Bourdain, who, along with Zimmern, was the face of the network for most of the last decade. Bourdain made the atypical decision to try to preserve his credibility by not doing corporate or endorsement work. Zimmern, who sees himself as a truth-teller and who values credibility, says he had no reluctance about doing the opposite.

“Tony is blessed at being the best at what he does,” says Zimmern. “I am not so lucky. And corporations are not going away. Look, the minute you sign a TV deal, you are someone’s bitch,” he says undefensively. “Ads are sold into my show by the hundreds.

“I wanted to engage with corporate America,” he says. “I love making deals but I want to leverage them to change our food culture. I like to cash the checks, but we pass up a lot of money.”

Zimmern says he’s been asked to do endorsements in the liquor industry, as well as “pharma stuff” and diet plans, “and we pass on them all the time because the fit is wrong and it’s a sellout in many cases. Some of these deals are very large, $500K potentially, but we say no before the talks get substantive.” Zimmern says contractual strictures make it impossible for him to discuss his endorsement earnings.

“Here’s the lines I draw: I never say something I don’t believe—ever, ever, ever and I won’t endorse a product I don’t like and use,” he says. “When the cameras are off, we are who we are when they’re on.”

Endorsements are the tip of Zimmern’s business pyramid. Beyond the food festivals, he is a modest presence on the lecture circuit, and continues to write a monthly column for MplsStPaul, while also authoring articles and web content for Delta Air Lines’ Sky, as well as Food & Wine. His website,, is full of original recipes, cooking demos, and interviews with leaders in food and cooking.

Zimmern has written three books—a 2009 Bizarre Foods memoir, a 2011 adaptation of that title for young adults, and 2012’s Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide, a youth-oriented title, the first salvo in a major push into children’s entertainment.

That move is more natural that it may seem. Zimmern’s path into many adult universes has been through their kids, who were early adopters of Bizarre Foods, drawn in by the gross-out factor and Zimmern’s welcoming demeanor. Zimmern believes that the family viewing that the show encourages creates a deep bond with his audience: “The things you share as a family are special.”

The push starts with a book. “We want to be in the publishing space,” explains Wiese. “Doing this kids’ book has been a lot of work. You don’t do it for the payoff, but for the entrée into the children’s entertainment space.”

And there is the Babson College connection, where Zimmern teaches several days each year in a role of “entrepreneur in residence.” The gig came about thanks to attorney Wiese’s partnership with the Wellesley, Massachusetts, institution on a separate venture. The relationship works for Zimmern because it places him, uniquely among his peers, in a “thought leadership” universe and allows him to work toward his goal to effect change.

The change Zimmern favors seeks to upset the established order of how we raise and produce food in the U.S. and takes aim at very established interests. “He doesn’t need to do passion projects,” says Cowin. “It takes nerve.”

Speaking to a group of Babson faculty last August, he explained: “I am a spoiled rich kid who became a drug addict and lived on the streets and relied on handouts. I’ve become fortunate again and I believe from those who are given much, much is expected.”

Zimmern is attracted to Babson’s focus on action creating understanding rather than vice versa, a perspective atypical for an academic institution. “The food life in this country has never been better for a select few,” he explains, “but it has never been worse for many. If I can help figure out a way to profitably decentralize our food system it would be the most important contribution I could make.”

The Wages of Success

Zimmern and his advisers are circumspect about his earnings, net worth (rated online at $5 million), or assets. He did not show up on Forbes’ list of the 20 wealthiest chefs (a list Zimmern said was highly inaccurate) but probably doesn’t belong there. The author of that list, Forbes’ Los Angeles Bureau Chief Dorothy Pomerantz, describes Zimmern’s brand as “solid.”

“But it’s not enough to be talented,” she says. “If you want to make big bucks in this business, you have to diversify, combining work that is low-margin but builds your brand” with high-margin work that pays.

Zimmern and his advisers get that, and are happy to discuss the challenges and choices they have made trying to balance Zimmern’s short- and long-term economic interests.

“We used to split a $240 commission check, me and Tom,” says John Larson. Today it is much larger, but not as large as it might have been.

“Nobody gets rich in cable,” says Zimmern. “The talent and producers do not own the content. You sign an initial contract, which gives the network a big piece of everything you make for five years and near-total control of your outside ventures.” “The talent are paid a fee, the production company is paid a fee, but they don’t share in the revenue,” adds Wiese.

That phase of Zimmern’s career is only recently past. “Now is my time to monetize,” he says. “We’ve worked hard to make a platform that’s as stable and diverse as possible so I can grow this by five or 10 times.”

To that end, Zimmern plows much of his earnings back into Food Works, “choosing not to live as well so we can make it sustainable rather than riding it up, then down,” says Wiese.

Zimmern says it is too early in the life of his new businesses to know return-on-investment metrics, but his five-year plan has Food Works generating 10 times current revenue. That revenue pie is currently 55 percent Travel Channel work, 30 percent endorsements, 10 percent appearances, and 5 percent books and miscellaneous.

For a celebrity of his caliber, Zimmern, 51, has few trappings of fame besides a taste for gadgets and a BMW. He lives in a modest home in the west suburbs, flies commercial, and travels without a handler or assistant. He doesn’t own a second house, and for vacation, takes trips to Disney World with wife Rishia and son Noah.

Though living in New York or L.A. would streamline his life, he chooses to remain in the Twin Cities to protect his personal life. “If you live in New York or L.A.,” he says, “you can’t turn it off.”

He, like most celebrities, is most struck by his loss of privacy. “You spend five days taping in the woods of Arkansas, you’re in a small airport, wearing a hoodie, facing the corner, and you turn around and there are 15 people ringed around you,” Zimmern says. “I’ve been followed in hospitals with a camera phone through an oncology ward. People have trampled my wife and kid to get to me.”

The cost to his family has “been far worse than I imagined,” he says. “They are victims of my popularity. The speaking engagements, the marketing commitments, the TV talk shows all require travel. I’m sure more days than not they would say it’s not worth it, but I have this business to support.”

How atypical is his life? “It’s been years since I called a friend and said, ‘What are you doing? Let’s go hang out.’ ”

Fresh Bandwidth & the Big Win

Zimmern is under contract with Travel Channel until spring 2014. With the network having just lost Bourdain to CNN, his leverage is powerful. “I have no plans to leave,” Zimmern says, but “it’s a business relationship.” He does covet a reset. “I have to start shedding stuff. To be on the road 35 weeks a year is unmanageable.”

Travel Channel, rumored to again be for sale, remains invested in Zimmern. “Bizarre Foods and Andrew will always exist in one form or another at Travel Channel,” says Laureen Ong, the network’s president. “It is one of the cornerstones of this network.”

Larson and Wiese say they have many ideas about how Zimmern can maintain an ongoing commitment to Bizarre Foods yet reclaim more of his “bandwidth.” He has shot two pilots for the network (notably not in conjunction with Tremendous Productions), both of which would presumably be more efficient to produce.

The first, Border Check, explores food and culture in places “where one place ends and another begins,” Zimmern says. It will have its initial airing in spring. The second, “busting myths about places,” says Zimmern, has yet to be named or scheduled for broadcast.

Zimmern expects a subsequent contract with Travel Channel to allow him to move forward on the many endeavors he has planned.

The list is audacious. Control and ownership are watchwords. “My son is nearly eight. When he goes to college, I want to be working only when the spirit moves me. I will always be working, but I’d like to be sitting on a beach with my wife and some good books,” Zimmern says. He describes the 10-year plan as “instead of doing 48 things to earn X, let’s do 15 things and earn 10x.” The path contains several initiatives:

Food production Last summer saw the debut of AZ Canteen, a Zimmern-branded food truck that is to be the test-bed for a spinoff business of six to eight food trucks roaming the country and the globe. Zimmern and two longtime friends made an initial investment of around $60,000 to equip and brand a truck selling an array of foodstuffs, employing the lessons Zimmern has learned traveling the world. The truck’s most popular dishes employ goat meat, which is the world’s most widely consumed red meat and also has the lowest impact on the environment.

“We saw it as a low-cost entry point to get back in the food production biz [that he left more than a decade ago],” Zimmern explains. “You can’t make money with one truck, not with our start-up costs and top-heavy organization. But we will build two or three more this year. We’re trading on my notoriety and allowing me to spread the gospel.” AZ Canteen is spending the winter in south Florida and is expected to be at the Super Bowl. It will return to the Twin Cities for part of next summer, and Zimmern is in negotiations with Delaware North Sportservice to bring its products to Target Field and other arenas the company handles.

Zimmern is in discussions with OTG Management to bring a version of AZ Canteen to airports. (An airport food service concessionaire, OTG has already rolled out Zimmern’s MinniBar sandwich shops in several airports, including MSP.) OTG pays Zimmern a licensing fee in exchange for his recipes and limited oversight.

“OTG gets it,” says WME’s Bider, “and Andrew was willing to put in the work to make sure it was to the quality level he wanted.”

Zimmern developed his goat sausage in partnership with New Jersey-based meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda as part of a line of Zimmern/LaFrieda-branded “alternative” proteins that will appear in grocery stores in the first half of 2013.

“He’s hit on a nexus between hipsters and butchers. It’s on its way,” says Dana Cowin. “The mainstream public is ready and very curious.”

Finally, there is a plan for a quick-service Zimmern-branded restaurant concept that would be located on or near college campuses, which may see the light of day in 2014.

AZ Bad Boy Zimmern’s team has invested several hundred thousand dollars creating a branded children’s entertainment platform that is being pitched to potential partners as this issue of TCB goes to press. Called AZ Bad Boy, a character Zimmern created, it currently lives on an iPad presentation created by local design house Spunk Design Machine. The first component, a book, has already been written and illustrated.

“It’s a children’s franchise,” says Wiese. “We’ve been working on it two years. It consists of books, online components, merchandise, TV, perhaps film and amusement parks. We’re going to be talking to the big players—Nick, Viacom, Disney.”

In a previous career phase, Zimmern might have sold the idea to a partner for a fee or percentage of earnings. Not now. “If we don’t own it, we won’t do it,” Zimmern says.

So Food Works bankrolled the project, backed by a private investor, “to retain control,” says Larson. “If Disney wants the package, we’ve got a deal. If they want to give us $20K for the book, we’ll do it ourselves.”

“It’s very important to us how this is marketed, and we don’t want to be at the mercy of a partner,” says Wiese. Zimmern’s team also believes the project is potentially more lucrative packaged this way.

“We’re not unrealistic,” says Zimmern. “This is 2013, not 1995. There’s not as much money out there. Our goal is a partnership with a major children’s entertainment company.”

Broadcast TV Zimmern’s deal with Travel Channel has a carve-out for broadcast (non-cable) TV. Many cable food celebrities have made the transition, from Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay to Guy Fieri and Tyler Florence. “I was [contractually] able to do network TV two years ago,” says Zimmern, “but I’m not sure they were interested in me.”

That’s changed. Zimmern says he’s turned down two major broadcast productions (which he won’t name), the more recent because his Bizarre Foods filming schedule made it impossible. Another chef got the job.

Zimmern’s advisers are certain that unshackled from a travel schedule of 35 weeks a year, Zimmern will be on broadcast TV.

Competitively speaking, these ventures have limited overlap with Zimmern’s TV food peers. The exception is broadcast TV, where Zimmern is in competition with everyone from Gordon Ramsay to Mario Batali.

“He’s playing chess,” says Food & Wine’s Cowin. “He will grow and shape-shift, but he stays in his lane. He has a very rare skill set: High and low tastes, global palate. He’s got a great sense of what’s coming and what’s good. ”

In the end, there are no regrets about the nights in the wilds of the Third World, the often unpalatable food, and the frequent exhaustion that comes with global shooting. “We’ve come to an important understanding,” says Tom Wiese. “Great ideas come from connecting the known world with the unknown world, and we’re going at that hard.” And no TV food celebrity knows the unknown world like Zimmern.

The ensuing half-decade will tell the tale. “We’re entering into a five-year period where people that don’t know about me are going to know,” says Zimmern. “The world is my oyster.”

Adam Platt is TCB’s executive editor. He was Zimmern’s editor at MplsStPaul magazine from 2001 to 2010.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

Bizarre Foods

Whether it's from the land or the sea, Andrew Zimmern finds that Vancouver has an abundance of fresh food. His discoveries include box crab and bull kelp, blood sausage made with pig heads, and a look behind the scenes at a tuna cannery.

Alaskan Wilderness: Moose Fat and Muskrat

Andrew Zimmern goes deep into Alaska's wilderness where people hunt and gather food to get them through the long winter months. From hunting grouse to making moose head soup, Andrew gets a taste of life in the Copper River Valley.

Nashville: Crane Meat and Pigeon Feet

Andrew Zimmern visits Nashville, where he gets a taste of the city's most iconic foods. From classics like hot chicken and dry ribs to grilled Sandhill crane, Andrew finds flavors both old and new in Music City USA.

Dallas: Red Meat & Rattlesnakes

Andrew Zimmern explores the bold, traditional and unexpected flavors of Dallas and Fort Worth, TX. He samples cow head roasted underground, a Thai meal made with chicken feet, water bugs and goat meat stew.

Colombia: Jungle Rats & Reptiles

Andrew Zimmern heads to Cartagena, Columbia. He eats capybara, shark and more in the city's mind-blowing market, before heading to the mountains for a taste of freshly caught caiman and jungle rats.

Lima, Peru: Frog Shakes and Fish Sperm

Andrew Zimmern explores the food capital of South America: Lima, Peru. He downs frog smoothies in a local market, hits 4-star restaurants for giant Amazonian snails, fried guinea pig and dives for octopus.

Atlanta: Monkfish Liver and Goat Heart

Andrew Zimmern explores the "new South," Atlanta. He feasts on calf brains on toast at a gourmet pub, helps butcher a goat at a nearby farm, and gets a Korean scrub down with Margaret Cho.

Florida Keys: Horse Conch and Hogfish

Andrew Zimmern travels to paradise in the Florida Keys. He heads out with a family to hunt and cook iguanas, competes in a fishing derby to tackle the lionfish invasion, and learns the art of Cuban cooking and cigar making from a master.

What exactly is snail caviar?

Fans of escargot may be readier than others to try caviar made from snail eggs. Zimmern's own Instagram fans demonstrated the love/hate divide. "That's gonna be a no for me big dawg," commented @_bc24, while @dandolfdadeadly both expressed a rave review and described its flavor: "It's a wonderful product. Deep earthy notes like a forest floor on an early autumn morning."

Snail caviar is great news in one respect. The most coveted kind of caviar comes from the Beluga sturgeon, which has been so over-fished as a result that it became critically endangered. The United States actually banned the importation of Beluga caviar in 2005 (via YouTube). Snail caviar is an exciting new way to enjoy a fancy dish, ethically.

Snail farming is booming in Italy, according to the New York Post, caviar being one of the drivers. Farmers place sterilized glasses into the soil to catch the eggs snails lay, writes Modern Farmer. They have to carefully sort through the eggs with tweezers to discard any slight imperfections. This is why snail caviar has the advantage over Beluga caviar, in that the snails don't have to be killed, but such a process means you can't expect this version to be a cheap option. A kilo can run $3,000.

If you do get your hands on some snail caviar, which can taste in the vein of mushrooms, follow Andrew Zimmern's lead and enjoy them at their best and simplest, with just a squeeze of lemon.

Q+A: Andrew Zimmern and the Bizarre Centennial

This Monday night, Andrew Zimmern launches the 100th episode of his Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, and this time he visits America's most bizarre city, Las Vegas. The promo videos show him talking about sustainability in the desert, visiting Sweet Surrender Cupcake for its $750 cupcake (topped with 1 1/2 ounces of Louis XIII cognac), eating Thai food at Lotus of Siam, and heading to a pig farm where the pigs eat the truly disgusting food garbage from the casino restaurants (Zimmern does not sample it).

Since this will be the seventh season of the kind of show that in TV usually has, maybe, three good years, it seems a good time to ask Zimmern if the new episodes will be different from all those others, in which he ate things only aborigines who have never seen a chicken would eat. I recently spoke to him on the phone about that and a couple other things.

JOHN MARIANI: So what's new this year on Bizarre Foods?

ANDREW ZIMMERN: New? Who knows? After five years and 100 episodes mostly outside the country, we kept finding incredible things to come back to in the U.S. The shows are driven by stories. We're trying to show some of the most complex ideas and adapted versions of different ethnic food cultures around the world. But the staggering popularity of the stateside shows has made us do more here.

JM: Why do you think the show has gone on for as long as it has?

AZ: I think it's two things: In America, we're such a disposable culture. We get into things right away, then just get rid of them. I think our show's popularity is in showing different aspects of the same obsession in looking at new things. Food is great, but food with a story is even better. Especially when people have never heard the story. We find foods on the fringes, but then tell tales about cultures we know and love. If we go to New Orleans, one of the great food cities of the world, we tell stories of the city that haven't been seen before. One of my favorite episodes was in Los Angeles, where we opened a pop-up restaurant. That allowed us to tell stories of L.A. through the city's markets and chefs. I wanted to understand the city foodwise right at that moment. I'd go into the kitchen at Animal and find out what their customers like to eat and why. It told the new food story in L.A. Then I called old-fart chef-friends and had them come over.

JM: So, is the new series different?

AZ: The show has and hasn't diverged, really &mdash it's more a maturation. We knew with every episode that it wasn't necessarily what was really crazy and horrendous that I put in my mouth. It was the story of the people who ate these things. We weren't setting out to do Fear Factor. People are interested in the deeper story.

JM: But the show is called Bizarre Foods, and most of the time it shows you eating stuff you pull out from under a rotted stump.

AZ: True, and when we shot the whole first season, before it aired, we called around and told people the name of the show, and that didn't go over so well in some of those countries. But we tried to explain that bizarre also means strange, exotic.

JM: So you're going to keep doing the show?

AZ: Well, I'm committed to doing another year. I have some specials for the Travel Channel. I have a kid's book coming out &mdash I'm very excited about it. I wanted to recreate the magic in my living room by going through books lying around the house. I took 50 of the strangest foods I could think of. In the brains chapter, I show how French and other cultures eat brains, then I segue into zombies and why they eat brains, and then to an essay on the world's smartest people. One idea leads to another. Lots of illustrations. I've also relaunched the Web site with Toyota. More public-speaking than ever with my charities. I'm a father and like to make a difference every day.

Inside Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen

STIR CRAZY | Andrew Zimmern at home in Edina, Minn.

IF YOU WERE to judge the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” on its promos alone, you would think it’s simply a show about dining on bugs and rotting shark carcasses. But the hourlong Travel Channel stalwart hasn’t lasted 10 years and given birth to multiple spinoffs—“Bizarre World,” “Bizarre Foods America” and the new “Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food,” which premieres August 16th—on shock value alone. The shows are all about exploring the world and understanding other cultures through food.

See The Recipes

The curious and hungry Mr. Zimmern knows food inside and out: Before he was a TV star, he was a chef who opened and ran a dozen restaurants in New York City in the 1980s. He’s been open about his struggles with addiction and alcoholism at the time, and the intervention that helped him get sober and turn his life around in Minnesota. He rebuilt his career from the ground up, starting off as a dishwasher at a French bistro in 1992 and working his way to executive chef in a matter of months.

While the life of a food celebrity keeps him on the road 250 days a year, at home with his wife, Rishia Zimmern, and 11-year-old son, Noah, in Edina, Minn., Mr. Zimmern cooks and entertains like a civilian. “I think people are shocked when they come to dinner at our house,” he said. “They expect some giant fermented possum on the table. In fact we cook more like my grandmother did on the Upper West Side of New York.”

A few cookbook favorites

The best feature of my kitchen is: the giant island in the middle. It’s big enough for me to cook with five or six people standing or sitting around. Everything happens in the kitchen. Life happens in the kitchen.

The kitchen tool I can’t live without is: a very big cutting board, because I like to be able to pile pieces of food in different places as I work my way through a dish. It’s a giant piece of reclaimed Minnesota hardwood from a company called Wood from the Hood.

The pans I reach for most are: a couple of iron woks I love to cook in, even Western food. I adore my Mauviel copper rondeaus—large, flat, straight-sided pots. The rest of my stuff is All-Clad, their copper series.

His knife collection

I collect: knives. I have probably around 400 at my house: My Bob Kramer, some Italian and Scandinavian artisanal pieces. There’s this company called Middleton that does some stunning blade work. I go to thousand-year-old Japanese sword-making outfits in Tokyo. I buy four or five custom-made knives and try to hide the bill from my wife.

The cookbooks I turn to again and again are: David Thompson’s “Thai Food” and Andy Ricker’s “Pok Pok.” I consider myself enough of an expert in Chinese cookery that I don’t really look at recipes any more when I want to prepare dishes in the Chinese canon. But I’m less of an expert in Thai cookery, and those two are the ones I find myself turning to. Spring and summer to me, it’s Thai food time.

The book that influenced me the most was: James Beard’s “Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.” It’s the first book I recommend for everyone. Madeleine Kamman’s “The Making of a Cook,” Jacques Pépin’s “La Methode” and Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook” are all in my kitchen too.

My pantry is stocked with: 7,000 spices, Asian and Mexican ingredients. Five different kinds of Chinese fermented bean paste—some of them 50 years old—that I smuggled into America. Wild pickled caper plants from Cyprus. I have a toasted tahina from the only toasted tahina maker left in the world, purchased in the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem. Forty different types of salt from all over the world—Senegal, southern India, obscure islands in northern Japan.

A typical breakfast is: a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I do the French prostitute’s breakfast.

When I entertain, I like to: make hot soup and keep it by the door in a terrine with some heating element under it. I’m talking about wintertime, of course, which is brutal in Minnesota. Nothing puts a smile on someone’s face like a mug of soup. It’s a great way to greet guests. An oyster chowder or a lobster bisque, sometimes a cream of tomato soup, along with little cheese toasties on a tray.

Zimmern’s James Beard awards alongside ribbons his son has earned.

I like it when dinner guests bring: nothing. I’m old-fashioned. [French epicure] Brillat-Savarin had his collection of aphorisms about entertaining. My favorite says while they’re in your home, you’re responsible for your guests’ happiness. I take that seriously.

The most important piece of kitchen wisdom I ever received was: cook something new every single day. My father told me this. You make a lot of mistakes cooking something new, and you learn more from cooking something the wrong way than you do cooking something the right way.

The most underrated food is: butter. A tie for underrated would be rendered animal fat. People have gotten away from cooking with pork lard and chicken fat, or schmaltz. I cook with both a lot. I even collect beef drippings from a roast. It imparts great flavor.

A food that I could happily have every day of my life is: mussels. It’s a barometer dish. I can tell everything about a restaurant through their mussels. You have to work so hard to keep them perfect. And I love to eat them.

If I’m not in the kitchen, you’ll find me: in the bedroom. Life happens in the kitchen, but the fun happens in the bedroom. You can quote me on that.

&mdashEdited from an interview by Kevin Sintumuang

&mdashCorrection and Amplifications: Andrew Zimmern’s wife’s name is Rishia Zimmern. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated her name as Rishia Haas.

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Behind-the-scenes with Bizarre Foods #3: Noryangjin Fish Market

So on the fly, they decided to bring Chef Kim in as the guide for the Noryangjin act. Andrew had flown in, and the Noryangjin shoot was scheduled the next morning.

I’d had a busy week with work. I was planning to go down to Noryangjin that morning, but I was too exhausted. For some reason, I woke up three hours earlier than usual and couldn’t go back to sleep.

I got dressed and got to the subway to head to Noryangjin, which was a bit of a ride.

When I got there at seven, the summer air was thick, and the humidity felt like rain was coming eventually. The air on the outside of the fish market was rank, but once inside, it smelled kinda clean. The entrance from the subway is on the second floor. I wondered how I would find everyone in this, one of the largest fish markets in the world.

A-ha! I’d know those orange shorts anywhere. I made my way down there, where I was recognized by crewmembers who weren’t absorbed in shooting the show. They had been shooting for a few hours by then, including the fish auction.

I hung out in the back so as not to disturb anything.

Despite being early in the morning and just off a flight over the Pacific, Andrew was full of energy.

Even though I had introduced everyone to Chef Kim, I hadn’t met him in person myself. So that’s what he looked like. Andrew was a kid in a candy store. As well traveled as he is, there were still many things that he had never seen before.

The crew was just as interesting to watch.

Jane took pics for the Bizarre Foods web site and promotion.

The octopus lady bags their catch. Chef Kim tells her to put it in a clear bag in a styrofoam cooler. Andrew compliments that he’s a chef who knows how to get his seafood.

After that bit, Andrew and Chef Kim went aside to discuss things. Kel introduced me to Andrew as the guy who set up everything.

“Oh, you’re the guy that I hate,” he joked.

They went back to another aisle around some shellfish to continue the act.

The market was very noisy, and I really zoomed in on my little Pentax point-and-shoot. Man, I miss that camera!

I couldn’t hear what they were saying amidst all the noise in the market. They were trying this one thing that I thought was sea urchin but may have been a sea squirt. The web site says it was “mungae” (door dog?), but I think they meant monggae 몽개, which is sea squirt.

“Eating shellfish in chili sauce is the perfect way to start the morning.”

Andrew also found this tiny wooden box that was used for something he knew of. I haven’t seen the show yet, so I don’t know if that was included in the cut.

They moved on to more shellfish. Chef Kim brought his friend, who was a photo designer in New York City for eight years and could help him with his English. I got to know him pretty well. Chef Kim and Andrew looked at more shellfish, with both of them picking out their favorite.

Always whip out your handy knife when shopping.

Then they got to the ki jogae 키조개, which translates strangely as “pen shell.” It’s a giant triangular black shellfish with meat similar to a scallop. Andrew had to try this one out. I don’t think his pocketknife was up to the task, so the lady opened it for him.

That’s a massive lob of meat in there.

The last bit, I think, was the jeot 젖 section of the market, which specialized in all those lovely stinky fermented fish products that are the base of much of Korean cooking–a common feature in many world cuisines, especially in southeast Asia. The ancient Romans and even pre-Victorian British were fans of fermented fish products. That’s actually the origin of ketchup and Worcestorshire sauce.

Oh, ADD set in again. Where were we?

Oh yeah, look at all this stuff! And they have toothpicks out to sample. It smells raunchy, but the flavors are complex, deep and disturbingly addictive. Andrew went around getting the crew to try samples on his toothpicks. He particularly loved the spicy salted pollack roe.

That’s really good stuff if you know what to do with it (I don’t).

Oh, here are our friends the penis fish. Uncircumcised.

These are such a mystery to not only foreigners. Korean friends are puzzled by these things. They’re called “gaebul” 개불, and they’re really a species of marine spoon worm. Urechis unicinctus. One day, I’ll eat one of them. I’m afraid I’ll cringe in inappropriate places if I see them being prepared.

They picked a live red snapper for lunch, and the fishmonger swiftly transformed it into sashimi. Andrew whipped out his camera to shoot some golden photos.


The fish was very active and flopped around during most of the carnage, even when the head was hacked off. Check out that knife. That’s something a Klingon could love.

Gutting. Still flopping around.

And we’re all wrapped up. This… was… fast!

Everything was tagged and bagged, so they did the “walking off to the restaurant” shot. Raymond made sure to write down and pay for every little thing eaten there.

It was then that I lost everyone. I don’t remember how. I think, oh yeah, I found a tinker–you know, a knife craftsman. Gorgeous knives there. When I came back out, I couldn’t find anyone. After some looking, I eventually found Richard and Kel. Kel, after all the hype, wanted to see one of those fermented skates for himself. We looked around, and I asked a lady. She obliged.

He leaned over to sniff it and jumped back reflexively.

He took a few snapshots for the show.

The restaurant wasn’t ready yet, so we waited outside. I got to finally shake hands and get to know Chef Kim. I also helped out with translating some of the fish they encountered. That’s the weird thing about my Korean. Since my obsession is food, I’m more likely to know the name of a fish species, even though I still have no idea how to tell a hairstylist how to cut my hair. There actually was a small kink. The restaurant had set up a small private room.

Andrew wanted customers in the background and activity all around them. Yet it was a bit early for customers.

As they set up for them sitting in the main dining room, a few of us retreated to the air-conditioned bus, specifically Jane, Kel, Andrew and me. Andrew was really excited about his new fisheye lens on his camera and showed it off to Kel. We hung out and talked about stuff. I wish I remembered what it was. Must not have been important.

They opened the restaurant, and we entered. As mentioned before, Andrew wanted customers and activity with the open kitchen in the background, but it was a bit early for the lunch rush. The crew worked on setting up the logistics. They recruited the floor manager to be in the act to welcome them. Kel said that if no customers came, he’d want my back sitting at a table in the background.

There was a lot of waiting. I remember someone asking me to translate some stuff on the menu. Then the time finally came to do the shot. Everything had to be done perfectly so that the octopus was still wriggling for the cameras. Richard went into the kitchen to get shots. By the time it started, I was stuck in the original private room with Jane, where I had stretched out on the floor. The lack of sleep was catching up.

Since they had started shooting, Jane and I were trapped in the back room. So while they were shooting this.

We were just beyond that door to the left.

We watched what was going on through the reflection on the beverage cooler.

During a quick break, we escaped. Andrew used the opportunity to get in his own bit of food porn. They had all the side dishes out.

Oh yeah, this is the cool thing about Noryangjin. The surrounding restaurants don’t really do much seafood cooking. They make the sashimi in the market, and you bring it over, where they have side dishes and drinks all ready. The only cooking they may do is turning the leftover bones and head into soup. If you don’t have any sashimi on you, they’ll just yell out an order to the market. That’s fresh!

The octopus was ready. FAST!

They got the octopus. I’m afraid it was kinda pooped and didn’t put up much of a fight, but it still moved. Andrew picked up his first tentacle.

And the reaction. Now with modern cooking shows, they usually cut to get the food porn money shots. This is “Bizarre Foods.” They gotta cut to get the “Andrew playing with his food” shot.

When that bit was done and there was still some wriggle in the octopus, they got some teaser clips, where Andrew improvised lines about what he was eating “next on Bizarre Foods.”

“Coming up: Food so good, it literally jumps in your mouth.”

By then the octopus was down for the count.

Kel and Jane still got their turns to try some. The consensus? Chewy. That’s always what people say, and that’s it. It doesn’t have any flavor and is like chewing rubber bands. But it’s fun in its own sick way.

Oh, Raymond’s looking. Say hi!

The soup came out, and there was more fun.

Andrew took out the fish eye and shared it with Chef Kim. By then, the clock was ticking for me, and I had to head back to Anyang to start my workday.

Andrew Zimmern on Twitter, Instagram, and Social Media

</head> Andrew Zimmern , the host of Bizarre Foods America , is a social-media force to be reckoned with, with 664,000 Twitter and 99,307 Instagram followers. We recently sat down with him to find out how he mobilizes his fan base to live a more delicious life.

Did you ever actually sit down and hatch a social media strategy, or did it just develop naturally?

The big thing about my social media strategy is that 98 percent of what I post, I actually post.

How do you possibly keep up with it all? You’re not only tweeting stuff out but also responding to people and staying involved in a bunch of conversations that span different worlds.

I'm always posting because I like it, and the reason I like it is because it's how I get my information. Four or five years ago, I had a CNN app on my phone and iPad. I would click on that to see the news. Now the only thing I look at is Twitter and Instagram. I don't use my New York Times app or my CNN app, because I follow and favorite the right people—both the media entities themselves and the writers I like at those newspapers and blogs and magazines. So my news is customized and all that stuff comes directly to me. It’s one click instead of three.

Many celebrities follow, like, three people. But you follow a ton. What sources are you looking to?

I try to follow as many chefs and line cooks as I can. There are big food events, like James Beard dinners, every weekend. I follow along on Instagram, and if I see a new name liking the same things as me, I’ll look at where they cook or what they’re interested in—that’s how I find cool people to follow.

So you’re not only looking at the things you’re interested in, but trying to discover like-minded folks?

Oh, obsessively. I’ll give you an example: It's great to follow David Chang , but he doesn't tweet that much. His chefs, however, are tweeting all the time. So they're a better way to see what's actually being cooked in his restaurants. If you're really obsessed with baseball, you know who's on your favorite team's farm system. Same thing.

"We are posting things we believe give us status, much in the same way that, in the tribal world, things like jewelry and war paint tell you how many goats someone owns. This is our filthy lucre."

You’re always engaged in really nerdy food conversations about stuff like Alex Stupak and Grant Achatz’s Push Project , but you also have a national audience that probably doesn’t know those people. Do you ever see those followers butting up against each other in funny ways?

Yeah, it’s hysterical. I'll tweet something about a super-precious food dinner in Hong Kong that was auctioned off two years ago, with some famous Asian chef cooking the meal. And I'll get tweets back from average Joes in the Ozarks who follow me because they like my hunting stuff, and they're like, "What the fuck? Who is this and why do I care?" But I like being able to bridge those worlds and preach the same message I do in my show. The information age is shrinking the world it's important for people in Canton, Ohio, to know what's going on in Guangzhou—formerly Canton, China.

Does the nature of your show attract an international following as well?

Most of my followers are American, but I have followings in many countries around the world relative to American food media. I treasure those comments more than anything. I pay a lot of attention to tweets from the Philippines or Italy or Santiago, Chile. I'm fascinated by how people are living their lives in other parts of the world.

“Soon we’re gonna have real-time streaming video to share with friends. Snapchat is just the beginning: We’re going to see personal broadcast systems—’PBS’ for the next generation.”

You were a very early adopter of Vine. Has your opinion on it changed as you’ve used it more?

I was a very early adopter, but then it got co-opted by people doing six-second stop-motion and humor videos. The audience is different now, and all I see is people making Vines of fart balloons. I’m thrilled that Instagram went to a video format.

What are your Twitter pet peeves?

The "gotcha" police on Twitter are absolutely repugnant. If you say something like, "Ron Mattingly was my favorite Yankee," a thousand people will correct you in the most nasty, vehement way. And I feel sorry for the person who was a victim of autocorrect, or typed the wrong letter, or misheard something. I mean, it’s obvious. There’s this attitude of "I’m going to police everything you say." If that’s what you’re doing with your time, you’re not enjoying the best things about Twitter. I mean, I’m 52 years old, a father, a taxpayer. I consider myself overly educated. I have an awful lot of interests that give me happiness or provoke thought or have me concerned about my fellow human beings on this planet, but if I post support for a proposition that's on the ballot in another state for marriage equality, you immediately get 200 people all tweeting at you: "Shut your big fat face, you fat fuck, I only want to know what you think about food." It's absolutely the opposite way in which I approach the world and life. If there's someone I follow and find interesting—whether it's a photographer or a professional athlete or a bus driver—I also want to know what they think about things other than their area of expertise.

“Engage with the engaging. Follow the people you admire, read, listen to, and watch—and whose take on life is right-sized. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out.”

Mario Batali is very amusing about responding to his haters. Do you ever get involved?

I've said some things to people I don't regret, but occasionally someone has so much vehemence, I don't even understand what part of the human odyssey they're engaged in. Close-mindedness and contempt prior to investigation are two things I've dedicated my career to railing against. So when I see it in social media, I get pissy.

What bugs you most on Instagram?

People posting shitty pictures.

What’s your opinion on places like Momofuku Ko that have banned cameras?

I have no problem with a place banning photos, and here's why: In general, they're looking out for the greater good of their community. I was at the NoMad in New York, which at night is very dimly lit and beautiful. If someone is taking flash pictures in that main dining room with any sort of frequency, it's horrific. It's irritating to other diners.

You seem to have a sixth sense for social media. What’s the next big thing?

I think we’re gonna have real-time streaming video to share with friends. Snapchat is just the beginning. We’re going to see personal broadcast systems—“PBS” for the next generation.

A lot of people talk about how when you’re taking a photo of your table at a restaurant, with your sunglasses and book placed just so, it’s almost like a self-portrait. How do you look at this posturing?

It is a self-portrait. When you are into social media, you are art-directing your life. Here’s what I’m wearing when I go out at at night… Here’s what I’m eating… Here are my friends… We are posting things we believe give us status, much in the same way that, in a tribal world, things like jewelry and war paint tell you how many goats someone owns. This is the filthy lucre of our generation.

Food Lighting 101

“Carry a key-chain flashlight —the tiny bulbs give off a nice, warm glow.”

Have a friend put their iPhone on ‘video,’ and use that flash to light your plate.”

“In a really dark restaurant, hold your butter plate behind the dish and use a candle to bounce the light.”

How Andrew Zimmern shows his ex-wife respect

With the Zimmerns, family matters. Calling the divorce his fault for not being there, Zimmern refers to his intense and time-consuming media career. Now, the celebrity chef states his goal is to double down on health and sobriety. "I want to be the best dad and the best ex I can be," he told The New York Times.

For Mother's Day 2020, Zimmern shared his love and respect for his ex on Instagram, writing, "And then there is @therishia, the bravest mom I know. Full stop. She walks through fires for our son, conflagrations that no one else can even go near, and often times nobody but her even smells the smoke!" He describes both his ex-wife and his own mother as the gold standard.

Zimmern frequently shares photos of family on his public Instagram, saying of his son, "The thing I'm most grateful for, this kid. what a difference a year makes. Our story isn't an easy one. No ones is. But tonight we are keeping all those not able to be with their loved ones in our thoughts. We are so grateful to be together."

Watch the video: Asias Strange Meat Secret!! Why dont more people eat this??