Andrew Zimmern has always been driven, as he puts it, not to be the best, but to be the only. To carve out a niche that only he could fill. And indeed he has—as the king of the bizarre, becoming famous in the US as the guy on TV who will eat anything and everything, with pleasure and a true sense of curiosity, as long as it’s part of food culture somewhere in the world. Born July 4th, 1961, Zimmern has made a name for himself, not only as one of the most adventurous and curious chefs on TV, but as one of the most versatile and encyclopedic minds in the culinary world. He has visited countless countries around the globe and soaked up their culinary cultures, making them a bit less foreign, and a bit less bizarre, to his millions of American viewers.
Zimmern’s own life story is one of triumphant highs and abysmal lows. And he’s always been remarkably, brutally candid about his darker days. While achieving success rising up through the kitchens of New York, working with chefs like Anne Rosenzweig, Joachim Splichal and Thomas Keller, he battled serious substance abuse issues and gradually spiralled out of control, ending up homeless and stealing from people on the street to support his habit. Zimmern traces the problem back to his early adolescence, when his mother went into a coma while he, 13, was away at camp. It was a dramatic turning point in his life, leading down a path of alcohol and drugs that ended with him checking into a Minnesota rehab clinic after almost dying of alcohol poisoning in a Manhattan hotel.
Zimmern stayed in Minnesota after checking out of rehab, gaining success and notoriety in the kitchen at Café Un Deux Trois in Minneapolis and becoming a prominent culinary voice through local radio and television before landing his first, iconic national show, Bizzare Foods , in 2006. The show made him a household name in the US, and sparked a successful series of follow-up shows, books, an award-winning podcast, a web series, and even his very own board game. In traveling the world
sampling the culinary delicacies furthest removed from American food norms, Zimmern became as much a culinary anthropologist as did a celebrity chef and TV host, building up a wealth of knowledge about global food cultures that continues to astound his peers in the food world.
Now sober for decades, Zimmern is not only a culinary superstar but an avid philanthropist. He has spearheaded multiple charities and spoken at numerous prisons and rehab centers, recounting his difficult past and subsequent success as an inspiration to thousands of those going through what he experienced in his early 20s. During one such talk at the infamous San Quentin prison in California, he attributed his success to finding a new purpose in life: “to teach tolerance and love and
understanding in a world that doesn’t have enough of it".
And this is exactly what he’s accomplished with his work, demystifying cultures from around the world, broadening palates and spreading culinary literacy. His television persona and narrative format have gradually evolved away from the novelty of eating strange foods to a place of deep cultural understanding, showcasing a profound respect for different people and ways of life that perhaps could only come from someone with the breadth of life experience that he’s had. His voice has also become increasingly attuned to complex social and political issues, revealing him as a remarkable ambassador not only of culture and food but mutual understanding and respect.
Andrew Zimmern is a chef, television personality, restaurateur, educator, radio host, podcaster, director, producer, food critic, and author. He has starred in multiple television shows, including Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods America, Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World, and Driven by Food . He is also the author of multiple books, including The Bizarre Truth, Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs and Blood Sausage , and Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater’s Digest . Additionally, Zimmern has been a contributor and/or editor for various publications, including Food & Wine magazine and Delta Sky Magazine. He also owns the Chinese restaurant Lucky Cricket in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.