The inspirations and struggles of Andrew Zimmern’s ‘Bizarre’ world
Published in the July/August 2012 issue of Renew
How food, travel, tough love and recovery transformed the life of this acclaimed chef, writer and Bizarre Foods adventurer.
Andrew Zimmern is best known as the guy who’ll eat anything on the Travel Channel’s hit show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. But the James Beard Award-winner, TV personality, chef, writer and teacher doesn’t taste all those delectably (or not so delectably) unique foods just for the gross-out factor. He does it, he says, for the experience, for the story and for the promise of bringing far-flung cultures a little closer.
At 50 years old, Zimmern is on top of the foodie and entertainment worlds, with a new season of Bizarre Foods under his belt, a new book due out in the fall and 20 years of sobriety fueling his quest for unique culinary experiences and great stories. When he’s not eating innards and insects on distant continents, Zimmern can be found at his Minneapolis home with his wife, Rishia, and son, Noah, or serving in one of his many recovery-related service capacities.
Today, the storyteller is using his own story to make a difference in the lives of others seeking recovery. Renew recently caught up with Zimmern at one of his favorite Minneapolis restaurants La Belle Vie to talk about his inspirations, struggles and the transformative power of travel in a world that, at times, can seem truly bizarre.
Renew: Any story has to start at the beginning. Where was yours? When did you know you wanted to enter the world of culinary arts?
Andrew Zimmern: I always wanted to be in the food world. I remember when I was 11 or 12, our family went to France, and we were going to eat dinner at Paul Bocuse. Now, this was ’73 or ’74, and at this point, Paul Bocuse was one of the best restaurants in the world. My father and his friends wanted to dine there. The kids, we were all just along for the ride.
I remember walking in and seeing the women in blue aprons and hats snipping herbs in the garden and bringing them back to the kitchen. There was this never-ending stream of things coming in from the garden. I remember peeking into the kitchen, and bread was baking and it was a restaurant world I had never seen before. We sat down in the dining room, and I couldn’t decide what to eat. They had a prix fixe tasting menu, something that is very typical now, but it was the first one I had ever seen. It had all the courses on it I wanted. And so I ordered it! My father was just livid, and I think he was also a little proud. About midway through the meal, I knew I was going to be in the food business for the rest of my life. That was the transformative moment for me. ...
- by Greta Lieske
In the July/August 2012 issue of Renew, you can also find these inspiring features and articles:
Phoenix Rising: How Scott Strode’s passion for outdoor sports grew in to a network of recovery, community and identity for thousands.
Returning from Relapse: Few people catch a quality life of sobriety on the first pass, but bouncing back even better is possible.
The Sober, Single Mom: Need to know to make it work? Ask others how they have done it.
Better than the Real Thing? A new look at 0%-alcohol “wine”
The Next Step: Feel stuck in your sobriety? A recovery coach may be the answer to getting your journey back on track.
Best Bets for Safe, Sober Travel: Dream vacations are a snap with services and destinations that cater to people in recovery.
Working It Out while Working Out: How to deal with your inner critic on the yoga mat.
Secrets and Shame: Psychologists say lies weigh us down in more ways we know. Here’s how to come clean and move on from a life in the shadows.
The Comeback: Author Bill Clegg guides recovering addicts through the process of getting back up after a fall.
And much more!
Photos of Andrew Zimmern at Minneapolis's La Belle Vie by Megan Schmitz.