Andrew Zimmern: Chef, Anthropologist, Social Justice Advocate and Global Thought Leader
A three-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and teacher, Andrew Zimmern (andrewzimmern.com) is universally regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, executive producer and host of the Bizarre Foods franchise on Travel Channel (including Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World, Bizarre Foods America and the new Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations), Andrew has explored cultures in more than 170 countries, shining the spotlight on impactful ways to think about, create and live with food. Bizarre Foods aired its 200th episode in October 2015 and Andrew launched a new series, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food in August 2016. The latest season of Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations will premiere October 4th, 2016.
According to Andrew, “Diversifying the American diet is the most important step we can take towards decentralizing our food system, combating food insecurity, eliminating hunger and restoring wellness to our society.” In 2012, he launched Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen, reflecting his fascination with food history from around the world. The business has since expanded to include a brick and mortar location at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. Inspired by visits to countless street stalls and markets around the world, the fare at Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen reflects the perfect intersection of food and travel with menu items like cabrito sausage grinders and cabrito butter burgers made with an exclusive all-natural goat from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors. In spring 2015, Andrew expanded his concession concepts opening Andrew Zimmern's Canteen Skewers and Andrew Zimmern's Canteen Links at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. In 2016 Andrew launched Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Rotisserie and Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Hoagies at the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota.
A Taste of the Good—and Bad— Life
Thanks to his parents who had him traveling around the world mouth first, Andrew knew from a young age that he wanted a career in food. As a teenager, while his peers were picking up part-time summer jobs at the local landscape company, Andrew was spending days at the beach and nights cooking in Long Island restaurants. After attending The Dalton School and then Vassar College, Andrew was on the fast track to success cooking in New York City restaurants helmed by Anne Rosenzweig, Joachim Splichal and Thomas Keller. He helped open and run a dozen restaurants, but he was also an active addict and alcoholic spiraling out of control. Crashed and burnt, he lost his apartment and spent a year living on the streets, stealing to support his addiction, ultimately leading to one last intervention by close friends. That brought him to the renowned Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Transforming his life around sobriety, Andrew began work again washing dishes and bussing tables at the Minneapolis outpost of New York's Café Un Deux Trois restaurant in 1992. When a line cook fortuitously didn't show up for his shift, Andrew took over his station, and in seven weeks was named Executive Chef, changed the menus and turned Un Deux Trois into one of America's first successful gastro-bistros during his six year tenure.
Making Moves in the Media
Andrew's revamped menu of French dishes shot through a Vietnamese and Chinese prism drew the attention of local media. Local news appearances led to regular TV work as the ‘in-house chef’ on HGTV’s early slate of programming produced in Minnesota. Rebecca's Garden and TIPical Mary Ellen proved to be extraordinary springboards. Zimmern sold his restaurant partnership and volunteered to intern for a local glossy monthly magazine, TV and radio station. Within months he had a regular job as a features reporter doing live local news, became MSP Magazine’s dining critic and restaurant columnist, and hosted his own drive time radio show.
Singularly pursuing Travel Channel, he created a test pilot for what ultimately became Bizarre Foods. In 1997, Andrew founded the Minneapolis-based, multi-media content production company Food Works, a full-service operation that develops and manages content, as well as oversees production and distribution for all of Andrew’s media endeavors. Andrew and Food Works are Executive Producers on Bizarre Foods, Bizarre Foods America and Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations on Travel Channel and his weekly podcast Go Fork Yourself with Andrew Zimmern and Molly Mogren. The team also produced Appetite for Life, for which they won an Effie Award for Best Food/Cooking Podcast in 2012 and AndrewZimmern.com has been nominated consecutively the past 2 years for best food website by the Webby Awards.
In January 2015, Andrew launched Intuitive Content, a full-service production company dedicated to developing and producing original television series, broadcast specials, branded content series for both web and cable, and other digital content. Travel Channel green-lit the team’s first series, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food. Beyond television, Intuitive Content works with clients on branded entertainment, including a partnership with Renaissance Hotels to create a digital series around The Navigators Table, exclusive behind-the-scenes access to today’s most admired chefs, writers and personalities. In 2015 Andrew was chosen as a mentor for Season 2 of Food Network’s All-Star Academy, alongside Alex Guarnaschelli, Curtis Stone and Robert Irvine.
Andrew is a contributing editor and Chef-in-Residence at Food & Wine Magazine and a senior editor at Delta Sky Magazine. He has been nominated for 8 prestigious James Beard Awards, including digital content nominations, and he has won awards for "Outstanding Food Personality" (2010), “Best TV program on location” (2012), and “Outstanding Personality/Host” (2013). In 2016, Andrew was named one of “America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food” by The Daily Meal.
The success of his Travel Channel series and Andrew's background as a journalist led him seamlessly into the world of publishing. Giving a behind-the-scenes look at the cultures and lifestyles he found in his favorite destinations, The Bizarre Truth (Broadway, 2009), inspired readers to travel, explore and eat the unconventional. Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs and Blood Sausage (Delacorte, 2011) gave younger fans a backstage look at his culinary adventures. His experiences tasting iconic dishes from every hemisphere has inspired his book designed for young adults, Andrew Zimmern's Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater's Digest (Feiwel & Friends, 2012), a pop culture-influenced look at funny, fantastic and occasionally bizarre ingredients.
When he's not sampling unusual dishes at home and abroad, Andrew teaches entrepreneurship and offers the latest insights on food issues and problem solving to the students and faculty of The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation at Babson College, a learning laboratory for the real-world problems facing business and society. He sits on the board of directors of Services for the UnderServed, the National Youth Recovery Foundation, Foodie Tout and Taste of the NFL, and he is the 2015 recipient of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Thomas M. Menino Award for his efforts to create and change conversations about food waste in efforts to alleviate hunger in America. In his rare downtime, he relaxes in Minneapolis, MN. with his wife Rishia, son Noah and two uneaten pets. Behind closed doors you can find him reading, cooking, and playing electric guitar.