A four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and teacher, Andrew Zimmern (andrewzimmern.com) is regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, executive producer and host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods franchise, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food, The Zimmern List and Food Network’s Big Food Truck Tip, he has explored cultures in more than 170 countries, promoting impactful ways to think about, create and live with food.
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 he wanted a career in food. As a teenager, Andrew spent his 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 was also an addict spiraling out of control. Crashed and burnt, he spent a year living on the streets, stealing to support his addiction. Ultimately, one last intervention by close friends brought him to the renowned Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Transforming his life around sobriety, Andrew began washing dishes at the Minneapolis outpost of New York’s Café Un Deux Trois 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. He turned Un Deux Trois into a successful gastro-bistro 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 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 volunteered to intern for a local magazine, TV and radio station. Eventually he had a regular job as a features reporter doing live local news, became Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s dining critic and restaurant columnist, and hosted his own drive time radio show. In 2003, Andrew filmed a test pilot for the show that ultimately became Bizarre Foods, targeting Travel Channel specifically as a potential home. Since Bizarre Foods first aired in 2006, he’s created the spin offs Bizarre World, Bizarre Foods America and Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations.
Andrew founded the Minneapolis-based, multi-media content production company Food Works in 1997. A full-service operation that develops and manages content, Food Works oversees production and distribution for all of Andrew’s media endeavors, including his former podcast Go Fork Yourself, a 2012 Stitcher award-winner for Best Food/Cooking podcast, his website AndrewZimmern.com, which was nominated as the best food blog by the James Beard Foundation in 2016, and AZ Cooks, a digital cooking series.
In AZ Cooks, Andrew puts down his passport and picks up his knives, sharing cooking techniques and recipes inspired by his travels and experiences in the professional kitchen. He demystifies essential dishes from cultures around the world in pursuit of culinary literacy. AZ Cooks won the Taste Award for “Best Food Program Online” in 2018.
Beyond his success as an on-camera host, Andrew’s background as a journalist has led him seamlessly into the world of publishing. Giving a behind-the-scenes look at the cultures 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 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. His latest offering, a grade level reader series called The Alliance of World Explorers, Volume 1: AZ and the Lost City of Ophir will be released in February 2019. Additionally, Andrew is a contributor at Food & Wine magazine and a contributing editor at Delta Sky Magazine, where he pens the column “Fork and The Road.”
Innovative Culinary Concepts and Partnerships
Inspired by visits to markets around the world, he launched Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen in 2012. The quick service concept is licensed at U.S. Bank Stadium and Target Field in Minneapolis, and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen is now a property of Passport Hospitality, a restaurant concept and design company founded by Andrew in 2015. Through Passport Hospitality, Andrew and his culinary team provide consulting services to various restaurant and retail projects.
One of Andrew’s most recent collaborations is KZ ProVisioning, a company co-founded with Minneapolis chef Gavin Kaysen. Partnering with major league sports teams like the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild, the duo provides healthy meals to the team’s players, coaches and locker room staff. Staying close to home, Andrew has also recently partnered with Robert Montwaid to develop an experiential food hall concept for 601w, United Properties, The Telos Group and Mid-America Real Estate in the Dayton’s building, a storied landmark in downtown Minneapolis. Projected to open in the fall of 2019, Dayton’s Food Hall will feature the amalgam of the Twin Cities’ diverse culinary cultures with a mix of well-known food vendors, fresh food purveyors, a food business incubator and curated entertainment.
For his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Andrew is partnering with Michael McDermott, President and CEO of McDermott Restaurants to launch Lucky Cricket, a contemporary Chinese restaurant at The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Slated to open in November 2018, Lucky Cricket will feature a menu that reflects Andrew’s extensive travels throughout China, offering an adventurous sampling of dishes inspired by provinces with which Americans may be less familiar. Cantonese, Fujianese, Hunan, Shandong, Sichuan and other regional foods will provide vision and creativity, inspiring a menu composed of small plates and shareable dishes.
Creating Compelling and Impactful Content
In 2014, Andrew introduced Intuitive Content, a full-service production company that develops and produces dynamic original television and broadcast specials, while partnering with companies to create brand-driven series and web content. Intuitive Content’s first television series, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food, premiered on Travel Channel in August 2016. In Driven by Food, Andrew takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes adventure, exploring food and culture from a whole new perspective with a local guide. In their second series, The Zimmern List, Andrew reveals his favorite food experiences in cities across the globe. The Zimmern List premiered in March of 2018; season two will premiere in the fall of 2018. Andrew travels the U.S. in search of passionate food truck entrepreneurs in their latest series, Big Food Truck Tip, on Food Network.
Beyond television, Intuitive Content works with clients on branded entertainment, including a partnership with Renaissance Hotels to create The Navigators Table and with Caribou Coffee to film the digital series Behind the ‘Bou. Intuitive Content also produced Andrew in the Kitchen, a companion web series to Bizarre Foods, in which Andrew creates dishes inspired by the show. Andrew in the Kitchen was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2018.
He has been nominated for 12 James Beard Awards and he has won awards for “TV Food Personality” (2010), “TV Program on Location” (2012), and “Outstanding Personality/Host” (2013 and 2017). In 2016, Andrew was named one of “America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food” by The Daily Meal, one of the “30 Most Influential People in Food” by Adweek and as one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” In 2017, Andrew won the award for Best Host at the Cynopsis TV Awards. According to Eater, “Zimmern knows more about the foods of the world and the history of modern gastronomy than anyone else in our solar system. He’s a walking, talking food encyclopedia, and a true omnivore.” Andrew has appeared as a guest judge on Chopped and Top Chef, and was chosen as a mentor for Season 2 of Food Network’s All-Star Academy.
When he’s not sampling unusual dishes at home and abroad, Andrew teaches entrepreneurship and offers insights on food issues to the students of The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation at Babson College. Through the James Beard Foundation he funds Andrew Zimmern’s Second Chances Scholarship, which offers a student faced with extreme challenges a second chance to overcome these hardships and follow a culinary path. Andrew also sits on the board of directors of Services for the UnderServed, Second Harvest Heartland and Taste of the NFL, and is the International Rescue Committee’s Voice for Nutrition. His work with Taste of the NFL went into high gear when Super Bowl LII came to Minneapolis in 2018. Along with being on the host committee, Andrew was named the official culinary ambassador for Super Bowl LII by the NFL. In his rare downtime, Andrew relaxes in Minneapolis, spending time with family and his pug Pretzel, and reading, cooking and playing guitar.