-- intro:Andrew Zimmern would make an entertaining dinner guest -- depending on how strong your stomach is.
Zimmern, an award-winning TV personality, chef and restaurateur, is best known as the creator and host of the popular Travel Channel show, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” which launched two spinoffs, “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World” and “Bizarre Foods America.”
From ants to jellyfish to poisonous frogs from Australia, Zimmern will eat it all. On his shows, the New York City native travels the world, exploring other cultures through food and local delicacies.
Zimmern took “Nightline” on a culinary adventure in the Chinatown neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, where the famous TV chef shared a few things fans might not have known about their bold food hero.
quicklist:1title: The Most Outrageous Thing Zimmern Has Ever Eaten Is...text:“I think the things that I experience in the tribal world,” Zimmern said.
“Coral worms that come up from the depths of the ocean in Samoa. They are only harvested a couple times a decade when atmospheric conditions are right, but the locals there scoop them off the top of the ocean and eat them," he continued. “I had some birds in South America in the rainforest there that the locals caught on an overnight hunting trip. I haven’t even seen those animals in books. They are the most delicious combination of chicken and duck that I have ever eaten."
quicklist:2title:The Hardest Food For Him to Eat Is...text:“Usually the fermented foods, and I’m not talking about sauerkraut and pickles,” Zimmern said.
“When you go to other countries and they are taking raw pork and rolling it in rice and putting it in a jar and letting it sit for 60 days and then serving it to you iced, and as it warms up in your mouth and the spoiled meat flavor explodes and everyone is sitting around saying, ‘wow such a treat,’ and you are trying to fight back your gag reflex it becomes a little trickier.”
quicklist:4title:He's Only Had One Food-Related Health Scare text:“The only thing that has happened to my wellness is that I picked up a virus about 10 years ago in central Morocco from tainted cumin,” Zimmern said. “I carry medication around with me in case it flares up. It’s been about two years since a flare-up, it’s viral... there are only a handful of people in the world who have it. Once every couple years I get a flare-up, I take my medicine and I’m fine.”
quicklist:5title:He Battled Addiction, Got Sober, and Found Joy Through Sharing Foodtext:When he was in his early 30s, Zimmern said he was in the midst of a successful career as a cook when he hit rock bottom.
“I was kicked out of college a couple of times and cooked overseas and in New York and along the way I developed a horrific drug and alcohol problem that almost killed me,” Zimmern said. “My addiction is to what I like to call 'more.’ I am a bright shiny objects person. I want more food, more fun, bigger waves to body surf, bigger fish, more of anything.”
After an intervention from friends, Zimmern went through a program at the Hazelden center in Minnesota. After getting sober, he decided to stay in Minnesota and get back into the restaurant business. He started out washing dishes and worked his way up to executive chef of a restaurant in Minneapolis. Eventually he opened his own restaurant, got into radio and TV cooking and then later, “Bizarre Foods” was born.
“Once I sobered up and got a little time under my belt, and I realized that the thing that gave me the most peace of mind was doing something for other people,” he said. “So my idea with ‘Bizarre Foods’ was to mold the two things in my head into a prescriptive, narrative story-telling that could make a difference in the world. When I thought about it that way, I became like a raindrop entering the river. I am at peace with myself, I have been sober for 23 years, I have a job that makes a difference. I think that it's showing people how similar we are to the other people in the world through food.”