Andrew Zimmern gives new meaning to the term "food personality" as he eats the inedible on the hit Travel Channel series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
. He's also does more of the same around the world as the host of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World
and the online series, Toyota's Appetite for Life
. He has put a lot of these experiences in his book, The Bizarre Truth
(Broadway Books/Random House).
Zimmern expresses his love of food in a monthly column for Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine
(where he currently resides). His ability to report on all aspects of the culinary world made him a recent recipient of the James Beard Award for Outstanding TV Food Personality and the winner of two CableFax awards.
I met Andrew Zimmern at the Girls Gone Wild
event at the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival and we recently caught up with a conversation about some of his favorite (and least favorite) things.
Marcia Frost: I understand you grew up in New York and played tennis.
: I did. I'm a product of the junior development program in the community that we spent our summers in. It was wonderful. My father taught me how to play. I had my fabulous Dunlop Stan Smith Racquet in its wooden press.
MF: When did you start going to tennis matches regularly?
: The match that got me hooked was when I saw Rod Laver and Stan Smith play an exhibition match at the Armory – what is that, 56th and park? It's still the greatest tennis game I've ever seen. The glory days of… you know… Connors and Gerulaitis and Borg, that was when I grew up.
MF: Who is your favorite player now?
: Oh, gosh. My favorite player right now… you know, I have a soft spot in my heart for Andy Roddick.
MF: The Girls' Gone Wild event in South Beach was pretty wild.
: It was.
MF: I know that they planned on taping it and some of the language wasn't appropriate for Delta Airlines. Is that what you expected?
: I expected it to be even crazier. Anytime you have Gabrielle Hamilton and Nadia G. in a room, and Debi Mazur, and the subject has anything to do with the comparison of the sexes, or anything to do with the concept of women and culture, you know there's going to be fireworks.
MF: That was a good group. Is there a chef that you'd love to interview that you never have?
: I would love to sit down and spend a couple of hours talking to David Chang.
MF: That's interesting. Why?
: Because I think he is a fascinating human being and he has so authentically rejected any commercial aspect of the pop culture food world. I want to talk to him about that.
MF: Is there a favorite place you love to travel for food?
: Where do you want to start the list?! Tokyo, Hanoi, Bangkok, Singapore, Sardinia…
MF: What's in Sardinia that you like so much?
: The greatest Italian seafood, but done in a style that's completely different from the rest of Italy.
Islands to me our fascinating places. I think Darwin's theory of relativity holds true with islands as well. You very famously have very little bleeding out of culture and you have very little influence coming in. So, in Sardinia, you do have the Moorish influence, you do have the Spanish influence, but you also have things that have been untouched for seven hundred years there, from food style to the way they cook their mullet in the interior of the country to the way they cure their pigs to the way they roast their goats.
MF: Is there any place you would not go back to because you did not like the food?
: Absolutely not. Here's the issue with going back to places. If you say you won't go back to a place because of the food, you just haven't experienced enough of the place or the food.
MF: Is there anything you won't eat?
MF: Are you allergic, or you just don't like them?
: Hate them. They're disgusting. They are just too soapy and mealy.
MF: What do you have planned for the Aspen Food & Wine Classic?
: I'm doing a wild game cooking demonstration (Game On!).
MF: Anything else?
: I'm going to party like a rock star.
MF: Well, I'm partying like a rock star too, but I'll have my camera and my pen and pad so I can bring the scoop to Cocktails and Joints!
Photo by: Steve Henke