Andrew Zimmern is a food fan's superhero, a force---and, depending on what he's eating, a freak—of nature whose palate knows no bounds. Zimmern eats for those of us too afraid to do so. And we watch in awe, sometimes in jealousy, other times recoiling, wondering how he does it.
That super power, among other things, is what makes him so fascinating.
The James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and all around renaissance man best known for his role as creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel's “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”, “Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World”, and “Bizarre Foods America”, is heading down to Miami for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where he will appear at several events including the Celebrity Chef Golf Tournament hosted by Jose Andres, (10 a.m. Friday, Feb 21), the Fun and Fit as a Family event hosted by Robert Irvine (10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22), a demo at the Grand Tasting Village (12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23) and two events he is hosting—a sold out intimate Asian dinner he will co-host with Jason Wang of Xi'an Famous Foods (7 p.m. Saturday, Feb 22) featuring Khong River House's Sudarat Loasupho, and the grand finale, Best of The Munchies: People's Choice Food Awards at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.
We, lucky enough to have appeared in a segment with him on “Bizarre Foods America's” Miami show, had a chance to serve him some questions, none which seem to throw him off as much as the rancid smell of durian fruit. Whew.
You're a hot ticket at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Your dinner with Jason Wang and Sudarat Loasupho is SOLD OUT! Nice. Which event are you most looking forward to?
“I love Burger Bash, and quite frankly the spontaneous after parties are the best part of SOBE. All that aside, I think cooking at Khong River House, and hosting THE MUNCHIES are so different I couldn't pick one.”
It's midnight after all your wine and food events are over. Where will we find you hanging out?
“In some art gallery converted to a party space, sitting in the corner laughing with my agents about the deal that got away. Or celebrating the one we just killed and dragged back to the cave. A lot of business gets done at these events.”
And with whom?
“At the end of night , around 2 a.m., I am with my office team and my wife laughing our asses off trading iPhone pics of covert people watching.”
Sriracha has become as ubiquitous as a Kardashian on a red carpet. What would you say will be the next Sriracha?
“Peruvian Aji Limon, Aji Amarillo, etc.”
Would you rather eat old fried tarantula with Miley Cyrus or walnuts with the Real Housewives of Wasilla, AK?
“I would love to eat tarantula with Miley Cyrus. Palin bores me.”
Is there a favorite childhood food you still crave?
“I am a hot dog kid.”
What's your 'last meal' request?
“A grilled steak and a plate full of shucked clams.”
What is your fave not-so-bizarre food?
“My wife's roast chicken.”
Your dream dinner party guest list?
“Teddy Roosevelt, Boss Tweed, Stonewall Jackson, and all my other 19th century obsessions. I have a lot of questions for them. “
Your quintessential cooking soundtrack?
“Ryan Adams, Escovedo, Uncle Tupelo, some Emmylou, Quah, early Roxy music…the list is pretty big, I hit shuffle mostly.”
“Something Brazilian or Cuban. Perfection.”
Your fave non-eating activity in Miami?
Favorite Miami restaurant and why?
“Frittanga Montelimar because I love grandmothers in the kitchen.”
Fave food flick?
“Eat Drink Man Woman”
Fave food book?
“James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking because it changed my life.”
Fave food writer?
“Too many…John T Edge, Calvin Trillin, Gabrielle Hamilton, Jeffrey Steingarten and Bourdain are superb and they make me laugh out loud, AA Gill, Johnny Apple, Fuchsia Dunlop, a rousing Brit restaurant takedown piece always thrills me, Ruhlman, Waverly Root…so many.”
What food personality still leaves you starstruck?
“The ones I haven't met and are still on pedestals. “
Do you watch any of the TV cooking/chef competitions?
“All of them, I am a TV junkie.”
What's on your eating bucket list that you've yet to check off?
“Top of the list is Shanghai. 12 trips to China and I still haven't been.”
A food trend you wish would go away?
“Commercial fast food. It’s bad for you and it’s falsely believed to fill some necessary niche but that’s a myth.”
A food trend you'd like to start?
“No more hunger.”
Any advice on getting kids and picky eaters interested in food that's not processed, dyed or featuring a cartoon on the package?
“Gotta start early, get to them before pop culture does. Look, little kids in Japan eat oily fish, kids all over world eat what's in front of them because their parents started them (often out of necessity) on the foods that were all around them. We simply lose the battle the moment kids see burgers on tv. Get to them before that. It’s very easy, but most parents wait til it’s too late.
The most annoying question anyone has asked you besides any of the aforementioned?
“’ What's the most horrible thing you've ever eaten?’ When people ask me that I know they don't really get it….”