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The TV host and travel expert has some tips for where to stay
Zimmern hosts the Travel Channel mega-hit 'Bizarre Foods.'
Andrew Zimmern is a man who knows how to travel. On his super-popular TV show Bizarre Foods, he demonstrates his knack for digging below the surface of any given city and finding its heart, often through its food. Zimmern is currently helping to promote a new app called Stray Boots that allows people to take, create, and share tours, so we asked him about the biggest mistake tourists tend to make — and the answer didn’t have anything to do with food. “Most people just stay in the wrong place,” he told us. “They look for the best deal when booking a hotel, and in the process lose perspective on the biggest issue, which is location. You’re saving money in the short term, but end up spending more money in the long term because you’ll be taking a taxi everywhere.”
When Zimmern stays in a city, whether on his own or with his Bizarre Foods crew, he keeps that philosophy in mind: “I pick a hotel based on where I want to explore,” he added. “I always tell the production company that we have to stay in the heart of the city, because the crew needs to be able to explore. Even if you’re a business traveler, don’t you want to be somewhere where you can walk around and really get a sense of the city?”
Stray Boots lets people create their own tours, which others can then purchase through their tablet or smartphone and take it themselves. “It’s a really fun, ‘Tour it, live it’ kind of app,” he said. “It’s great to see how people who live in one place can create a tour for someone else to take. A tour book is dated and is usually created by someone who doesn’t even live there. You can use a tour book for museums, but this really allows the people who know the cities best to show you around.”
Tours can range from day-long excursions to an afternoon sampling a neighborhood’s best burgers. Zimmern has created a culinary tour of his hometown, Minneapolis, which can be found here.
“I consider myself civic-minded, and I said yes to building this tour right away,” he said. “This really adds to the discourse; if enough people do it, it can make the world a better place.”
These Are Andrew Zimmern's Top Three Tips To Be A Great Cook
Andrew Zimmern is one of the most accomplished chefs, restaurateurs, and businessmen in the country, so when he gives advice to home cooks, as he did on the recent Kitchen Chat podcast, it's wise to listen.
First, some background on this inspiring personality: Zimmern started his restaurant training at just 14 (via New York Moves). After graduating from Vassar College, he landed jobs in the kitchens of respected chefs and restaurateurs such as Anne Rosenzweig, Joachim Splichal, and Thomas Keller (via Andrew Zimmern).
If you only know Zimmern only from his successful shows including Bizarre Foods and The Zimmern List, you might not know that the accomplished TV personality went through a very dark period in the 1980s. After this, he restarted his career from scratch, taking a dishwashing job at Café Un Deux Trois in Minneapolis. Soon, a determined Zimmern rose to the ranks of executive chef at the restaurant, which went on to win national recognition and several awards.
Zimmern went on to establish a multimedia company, Food Works, and a restaurant food retail development company, Passport Hospitality. He's won Emmys and James Beard Awards, and in addition to his own shows, has appeared on Iron Chef, Chopped, and Top Chef Masters (via IMDB). If there's someone who can pinpoint how we all can be better cooks, it's him.
20 Delicious Regional Dishes Across America
In his 10th year eating his way around the world for Travel Channel, Andrew Zimmern travels across the United States to find the least known and most loved regional specialities that America has to offer for the latest season of Bizarre Foods. From Southern California barbecue to Finnish sweetbreads in the Midwest, get ready to dig into these appetizing local dishes.
Halibut Ceviche Pacific Coast Highway
Aged California Sirloin Santa Maria, Calif.
Baked Halibut Avila Beach, Calif.
Fried Lingcod Morro Bay, Calif.
Barbecue Santa Maria, Calif.
Whole Fried Rockfish Morro Bay, Calif.
Salmon Columbia River
Pork Chops Milledgeville, Ga.
Known as the Kobe beef of pork, these locally raised Mangalitsa chops are seared over an open grill at Comfort Foods restaurant.
Venison Steak Eatonton, Ga.
In this Georgia town rich with Civil War history, Andrew enjoys a dish of fried venison deer steak.
Roasted Rabbit Milledgeville, Ga.
Carrots, celery and onions are grilled in mulefoot pig lard and roasted with rabbit in this colorful Southern comfort food dish.
Three Meats and Two Sides Macon, Ga.
Andrew has a buffet of soul food offerings for dinner: Oxtails and gravy, turkey necks, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken are generously served at Silly Lilly’s restaurant.
Wild Game and Greens Eatonton, Ga.
There are a few surprises in store for Andrew on this plate: Wild boar, raccoon and squirrel dumplings are served with traditional green beans and collard greens.
Smoked Pork Leesville, S.C.
Texas Brisket Atlanta, Ga.
You don’t need to go to the Lone Star State for the perfect salt-and-pepper crust and slow-smoked flavor of this traditional brisket--head to Atlanta, where Fox Brothers restaurant slowly smokes the meat over hickory wood to bring out the full flavor.
Beer Can Turkey Greenville, S.C.
Mo & Joe’s Barbecue knows its customers well--for local tailgaters, the top selling dish worth waiting for is the smoked beer can turkey, pulled apart and served in a soft bun.
Mustard Sauce S.C.
Back in the 1700s, German immigrants settled in South Carolina and brought condiments like mustard with them. Mustard barbecue sauce was born and has been enjoyed in tangy South Carolina barbecue ever since.
Smoked Whitefish Keweenaw Peninsula, Mich.
On this scenic peninsula on Lake Superior, whitefish can be readily found, smoked and served as a local specialty.
Finnish Nisu Upper Peninsula, Mich.
Finnish immigrants first brought this cardamom-fragrant braided sweetbread to Michigan in the late 1800s.
Juustoa Hancock, Mich.
In northern Michigan, you can find one of the biggest Finnish populations outside of Finland, as well as plenty of the delightfully squeaky Finnish cheese called juustoa.
Curious what cicadas taste like? Cicada recipes could help you find out
NEW YORK -- Cicadas are poised to infest whole swaths of American backyards this summer. Maybe it's time they invaded your kitchen.
Swarms of the red-eyed bugs, who are reemerging after 17 years below ground, offer a chance for home cooks to turn the tables and make them into snacks.
Full of protein, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb, cicadas were used as a food source by Native Americans and are still eaten by humans in many countries.
"We really have to get over our dislike of insects, which is really strong and deep-seated in most people in our culture," said David George Gordon, author of "Eat-a-Bug Cookbook" and known as the Bug Chef.
"You could make stir fry. You can mix them into dough to make bread - make banana bread, let's say. You can batter them and deep fry them, which I think would be my favorite way," he said.
This year's group is called Brood X, and they can be seen in 15 Eastern states from Indiana to Georgia to New York. Their cacophonous mating song can drown out the noise of passing jets.
Trillions of cicadas are about to emerge from 15 states in the U.S. East. Scientists say Brood X (as in ten, not the letter) is one of the biggest for these bugs which come out only once every 17 years.
When the soil warms up enough, cicadas emerge from the ground, where they've been sucking moisture from tree roots for the past 13 or 17 years, depending on species. They shed their exoskeletons, attach themselves to branches, mate and lay eggs before dying off in about six weeks.
When eating adult cicadas, it's advised to pull the wings and legs off to reduce the crunchiness. But Gordon advises home cooks to gather the cicadas when they're nymphs, before their body armor hardens and while they are still soft and chewy, like soft shell crab.
He puts them in the freezer, a humane way to kill them. Once defrosted, cicadas can become a pizza topping like sundried tomatoes, or replace shrimp in any recipe. Others have followed his lead, including a University of Maryland cookbook dedicated to the cicada.
"People can't really deal with the idea of looking at a bug and eating it. So that's why I like tempura batter or something that just conceals the features of the nymph," Gordon said. "Plus, I'll eat anything that's deep fried. I have a recipe in my book for a deep-fried tarantula spider and they're really good."
Gordon describes the taste of cicadas as akin to asparagus. University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp goes further: "They have a buttery texture, a delicious, nutty flavor, probably from the tannins, from the roots of the trees on which they fed," Raupp said. "And they're going to be really good with a Merlot."
Gordon's "Eat-a-Bug Cookbook" came out in 1998 and was greeted by hostility and jokes from late-night TV hosts. "But of course, over the last 20 years, this is moving in the direction of being normalized," he said.
Gordon pointed to the rise of foodie culture and thrill-seeking eaters like chef Andrew Zimmern, but especially to a 2013 report from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization as a turning point in interest in edible insects. The report estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people around the world, and that dozens of species have been documented as edible, including cicadas.
It also declared that edible insects are rich in protein and good fats, high in calcium, iron and zinc, emit fewer greenhouse gases than most livestock, and take very little farming space or water.
"Now people were taking what I had been saying all along more seriously," Gordon said. In America, "We're kind of the weirdos: 80% of the world's cultures eat insects, but we're in that 20% that thinks it's an abomination."
The number of mass-produced foods containing insects - from protein bars to chips and pasta sauce - has been rising. In parts of Asia, some insects are sold in bags like salted peanuts or in tubes like stacked potato chips. A German company makes burgers out of mealworms.
"They're a much healthier option for the planet," said Dr. Jenna Jadin, an evolutionary biologist and ecologist who has worked as a climate change adviser for UN agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization. "Especially in light of the fact that we will shortly have to feed 9 billion people."
Jadin notes with a laugh that once the mighty, high-cost lobster was deemed so repulsive in the West that it was fed to prisoners. "Perceptions change," she said.
She notes that the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates about 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are due to animal agriculture.
Adventurous eaters might start with insects at the Newport Jerky Company, which has stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and a vibrant online presence. Its insect section includes a bag of grasshoppers for $9.99 or chocolate-covered crickets for $6.99.
Co-owner Derek Medico said he sells one item - a $9.99 mixed bag of dehydrated grasshoppers, mole crickets, silkworms, crickets and sago worms - thousands of times a year. "I think a lot of it just the novelty," he said.
And he doesn't expect to see consistent demand for insects anytime soon.
"In other countries and other cultures, that's much more accepted and much more normal," he said. "But here, I just think it's just going to take a while."
How Filipino Food Is Becoming the Next Great American Cuisine
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Noodles at LASA Photo: Courtesy of Claudia Mc Neilly
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Asked to name your favorite dish from Japanese, Italian, Mexican, or Indian cuisine, and a flood of options may come to mind. Should you choose ramen or sushi? Pizza or pasta? Tacos or enchiladas? Butter chicken or saag paneer? Yet when asked to recall a treasured dish of the Philippines, you may find yourself stumped to identify a single entree.
It’s been five years since food writer Andrew Zimmern predicted Filipino cuisine was going to become “the next big thing.” Yet the flavors of the Philippines are still largely misunderstood by the rest of the world. Food stylists have been known to position chopsticks alongside Filipino dishes, assuming the country’s Southeast Asian geography means chopsticks are used as the primary delivery vehicle for food, when it is, in fact, forks and spoons. Balut, or developing bird embryo, has been erected as a lazy stand-in for a cuisine as varied and nuanced as its 18 regions.
Often called the original fusion cuisine, Filipino food is an intricate pattern of Spanish, Western, Chinese, Japanese, and Pacific Islander flavors that serve as living proof of the country’s rich cultural history. Chicken or pork adobo uses the Spanish term adobo meaning “marinade” to drench meats in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar. Kare kare, or oxtail stew, derives its name from “curry” as a result of the country’s deeply rooted Indian heritage. The celebrated use of Spam—fried to golden crisps in spamsilog or served in sandwiches between fluffy French bread topped with a fried egg—remains a symbol of the American influence during World War II.
But make no mistake: The palate of Filipino food is entirely its own, relying on acids and sweetness perhaps more than any other cuisine. The crunchy, indulgent exterior of lechon, or whole spit-roasted pig, is lightened with a dip of lechon sauce made from vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of liver. Savory dishes like pork longganisa (a sausage made of ground pork) and Jollibee-style spaghetti (pasta slicked with tomato sauce and a kick of sugar) are sweeter than one might expect. It’s here that flavors don’t blend together so much as sit atop one another, lifting each up into an addictive symphony of tangy, salty, and sweet.
Although the cuisine is pork heavy, a natural abundance of seafood and tropical fruit has given rise to dishes that are light without being bland. Think mango and tomato salads finished with tart calamansi juice and bagoong, an umami-rich fermented fish sauce native to the Philippines. Or tilapia sinigang, a delicate soup for which whitefish is poached in sour tamarind broth alongside fresh greens like water spinach and bok choy.
Inside Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen
STIR CRAZY | Andrew Zimmern at home in Edina, Minn.
IF YOU WERE to judge the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” on its promos alone, you would think it’s simply a show about dining on bugs and rotting shark carcasses. But the hourlong Travel Channel stalwart hasn’t lasted 10 years and given birth to multiple spinoffs—“Bizarre World,” “Bizarre Foods America” and the new “Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food,” which premieres August 16th—on shock value alone. The shows are all about exploring the world and understanding other cultures through food.
See The Recipes
The curious and hungry Mr. Zimmern knows food inside and out: Before he was a TV star, he was a chef who opened and ran a dozen restaurants in New York City in the 1980s. He’s been open about his struggles with addiction and alcoholism at the time, and the intervention that helped him get sober and turn his life around in Minnesota. He rebuilt his career from the ground up, starting off as a dishwasher at a French bistro in 1992 and working his way to executive chef in a matter of months.
While the life of a food celebrity keeps him on the road 250 days a year, at home with his wife, Rishia Zimmern, and 11-year-old son, Noah, in Edina, Minn., Mr. Zimmern cooks and entertains like a civilian. “I think people are shocked when they come to dinner at our house,” he said. “They expect some giant fermented possum on the table. In fact we cook more like my grandmother did on the Upper West Side of New York.”
A few cookbook favorites
The best feature of my kitchen is: the giant island in the middle. It’s big enough for me to cook with five or six people standing or sitting around. Everything happens in the kitchen. Life happens in the kitchen.
The kitchen tool I can’t live without is: a very big cutting board, because I like to be able to pile pieces of food in different places as I work my way through a dish. It’s a giant piece of reclaimed Minnesota hardwood from a company called Wood from the Hood.
The pans I reach for most are: a couple of iron woks I love to cook in, even Western food. I adore my Mauviel copper rondeaus—large, flat, straight-sided pots. The rest of my stuff is All-Clad, their copper series.
His knife collection
I collect: knives. I have probably around 400 at my house: My Bob Kramer, some Italian and Scandinavian artisanal pieces. There’s this company called Middleton that does some stunning blade work. I go to thousand-year-old Japanese sword-making outfits in Tokyo. I buy four or five custom-made knives and try to hide the bill from my wife.
The cookbooks I turn to again and again are: David Thompson’s “Thai Food” and Andy Ricker’s “Pok Pok.” I consider myself enough of an expert in Chinese cookery that I don’t really look at recipes any more when I want to prepare dishes in the Chinese canon. But I’m less of an expert in Thai cookery, and those two are the ones I find myself turning to. Spring and summer to me, it’s Thai food time.
The book that influenced me the most was: James Beard’s “Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.” It’s the first book I recommend for everyone. Madeleine Kamman’s “The Making of a Cook,” Jacques Pépin’s “La Methode” and Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook” are all in my kitchen too.
My pantry is stocked with: 7,000 spices, Asian and Mexican ingredients. Five different kinds of Chinese fermented bean paste—some of them 50 years old—that I smuggled into America. Wild pickled caper plants from Cyprus. I have a toasted tahina from the only toasted tahina maker left in the world, purchased in the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem. Forty different types of salt from all over the world—Senegal, southern India, obscure islands in northern Japan.
A typical breakfast is: a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I do the French prostitute’s breakfast.
When I entertain, I like to: make hot soup and keep it by the door in a terrine with some heating element under it. I’m talking about wintertime, of course, which is brutal in Minnesota. Nothing puts a smile on someone’s face like a mug of soup. It’s a great way to greet guests. An oyster chowder or a lobster bisque, sometimes a cream of tomato soup, along with little cheese toasties on a tray.
Zimmern’s James Beard awards alongside ribbons his son has earned.
I like it when dinner guests bring: nothing. I’m old-fashioned. [French epicure] Brillat-Savarin had his collection of aphorisms about entertaining. My favorite says while they’re in your home, you’re responsible for your guests’ happiness. I take that seriously.
The most important piece of kitchen wisdom I ever received was: cook something new every single day. My father told me this. You make a lot of mistakes cooking something new, and you learn more from cooking something the wrong way than you do cooking something the right way.
The most underrated food is: butter. A tie for underrated would be rendered animal fat. People have gotten away from cooking with pork lard and chicken fat, or schmaltz. I cook with both a lot. I even collect beef drippings from a roast. It imparts great flavor.
A food that I could happily have every day of my life is: mussels. It’s a barometer dish. I can tell everything about a restaurant through their mussels. You have to work so hard to keep them perfect. And I love to eat them.
If I’m not in the kitchen, you’ll find me: in the bedroom. Life happens in the kitchen, but the fun happens in the bedroom. You can quote me on that.
&mdashEdited from an interview by Kevin Sintumuang
&mdashCorrection and Amplifications: Andrew Zimmern’s wife’s name is Rishia Zimmern. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated her name as Rishia Haas.
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Andrew Zimmern Says Food Trends Don&rsquot Matter Because the Planet Is Dying
Andrew Zimmern doesn&apost have the luxury of succumbing to jet lag. It might take him 40 hours to get to a gig, but he’ll be camera-ready when he gets there, no questions asked. “People say, ‘How the fuck can you do that?’” Zimmern says. “I&aposm like, well, it&aposs really easy. I&aposm in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. If you can&apost get it up for that, something is wrong with you.”
The four-time James Beard Award-winning TV host, chef, writer, and teacher relies on his enthusiasm, not stimulants, to get him out of bed when he’s on the road. “I force myself onto the clock in whatever place I land in,” says Zimmern, whose Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods returned for its 13th season this summer. 𠇊t the most I have an uncomfortable half-day or day before my body resets. I&aposm committed to the higher calling.” For him, that higher calling is the opportunity to tell otherwise unheard stories from far corners of the globe. “The show has to go on,” he says. “There are wrongs to right. I very much believe this isn&apost a job to me this is a mission,” he says. I had the chance to talked to the celebrity host and frequent flyer about breakfast, those best restaurants lists, and the future of food.
Extra Crispy: So where in the world are you?
Andrew Zimmern: I&aposm in Memphis, Tennessee. We&aposre doing an episode of The Zimmern List here.
I’m sure you&aposve been many times before, but is there anything new that’s catching your eye?
I think the same could be true of so many cities around the country: The food, the restaurant renaissance here is just spectacular to see. I come to Memphis for the dirty South classics. If it&aposs not fried or barbecued or shoved in a bun, you&aposre missing out.
There are so many incredible restaurants. It’s certainly not new, but I had dinner last night at Hog & Hominy, Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman&aposs restaurant, and the cooking was nothing short of brilliant. The dishes that I ate last night, if they were at a restaurant in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, they would have Michelin stars. I&aposm just stunned at the delicacy, the smart cooking, the thoughtfulness. It absolutely kept my mind blown.
I’m getting hungry. On the note of Michelin stars, how do you feel about Michelin ratings and San Pellegrino&aposs list? Do you feel like those sorts of accolades and lists are important and helpful, or are they outdated?
Lists are really great for people whose names are on them and they’re really shitty for people who are off them. You brought up arguably the two biggest lists in fine dining, and I&aposm not sure that fine dining is something that more than a small handful of people around the world pay attention to. I streamed the San Pellegrino 50 on my phone in the back of a car, on a trip, and purposely scheduled my trip so I could see who is ranked where. I know a lot of the chefs. I think the vast majority of people don&apost care—that&aposs number one. On one hand, I don&apost understand what all the haranguing is about, on the other hand, I&aposm really understanding what all the haranguing about.
First, you look at the vast majority of restaurants in the San Pellegrino 100 for example, or the vast number of restaurants that have received Michelin stars, and they ignore such a large volume of the world’s culinary scene, it’s shocking to me. South Asia, Africa, and even with as much South American representation as there is, so much is ignored. I&aposm really stunned by it. As someone who has had the opportunity to eat in well over half of the San Pellegrino 100 and someone who regularly eats at Michelin-star restaurants𠅊nd I do it because I love to see what the best chefs in the world do with ingredients and food—it’s just the tip of the spear of what food is and can be.
Second, it becomes an issue of, if you’re going to start talking about the world&aposs best, I think you have to start making the effort to expand your reach, because leaving off thousands and thousands from consideration that I can tell you personally are equal or better than a lot of those is confusing for people. What&aposs extremely hurtful is the way ethnicity, ethnocentrism, and sexism plays out in those spaces. You don&apost have to look very closely at any of it to see that it’s an old white boys’ club.
Now, I know that that&aposs a very familiar rant these days, and I am the problem in the world. I’m an old white person who makes a good living. And even I get offended and confused because I can&apost understand for the life of me why these institutions continue to perpetuate the problem.
What do you think has to happen?
The organizations need to get together with their board of directors and say, “What do we wanna be?” Because every year they&aposre going to continue to be less and less relevant. I do not believe Michelin stars are relevant anymore at all. You have a cell phone. Who looks at a Michelin? I&aposm the Michelin Guy customer. I have money, I travel all over the world, and I really mean this as undouchey as possible, I can afford to eat in those places. I have Michelin guides, all of them. When they were published I used to get them sent to my office all the time and I used to jump at my assistant’s desk when I saw them because it would help me plan things and figure out trips. Now I use my phone and social media and friends. You can access food writers, chefs, line cooks, and local publications in three minutes on Twitter to vet the five best eating experiences in any city or town in the world.
I would love to get the head of the World’s 50 Best in front of me for twenty minutes and point him the direction of how to make sponsored lists really relevant. And I know I just keep sounding like a bigger and bigger moron when I say things like this, but there are not many people who are well suited to critique how that list is done, and I happen to think that I&aposm one of them. The reason that I do and say that is because I&aposm actually traveling all over the world eating at these places. So there is no way anyone on Earth can tell me that Badjao Seafront Restaurant in the Philippines isn&apost one of the best hundred restaurants in the world. I&aposll put it up against any eating experience on planet Earth. I should come up with my own list that people should go to—oh wait, I do that.
Speaking of that, you have a new season of Bizarre Foods out. What was your mindset going into the new season?
I always go into it with a new attitude. I think we&aposve come across a fun way to structure these trips by exploring the historical roots and personages. We did that last year. This year I wanted to raise it up a notch in the relevance to our current global climate, socially, anthropologically, culturally, civically. I think we achieved that, whether we were talking about American exceptionalism and the Pony Express, or talking about what it means to be free and independent in the other night&aposs Scotland episode, and in upcoming episodes. We are in Spain on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to see the tomb of St. James. It was just chance to talk about spirituality and belief systems in the context of culture and eating along the way.
We were able to show in our Battle of the Bulge show not only the importance of America&aposs fight to defend global freedom, but also our fallen standing in the world today. In our Underground Railroad show we get to talk about race in America, which I think is a discussion we need to be having. I think it is just because when people say, "Well, you just do a travel food show. Stick to food" that ignores the greater purpose of our reason for being on planet Earth, which is to love each other and make our global home a better place. That just seems to be global civics lesson 101, so trying to contribute to that conversation is my number one goal.
What are some of your favorite breakfasts around the world?
My favorite breakfasts in the world are in Japan and China. I’m not big on pancakes and waffles. American breakfasts are so unhealthy for you. The Denny&aposs Grand Slam is the poster child for how you&aposre not supposed to eat. I&aposm a lotus eater. I eat for pleasure, so some sort of muesli or acai bowl—some of those are absolutely god-awful. I&aposve always eaten what I call dinner for breakfast, and when I first traveled to Asia in my twenties, my jaw was on the ground. I was like, Oh, God. Grilled fish, pickles, soup, congee? In China, braised cabbage and greens with some rice porridge and some wonderful things tossed in there is as wonderful a breakfast as I can possibly imagine. Japanese breakfast really is outstanding for me. Vegetables, pickles, a little rice, a little soup, a small piece of grilled fish—I hit the ground running. I feel great.
I will say that when I was in Scotland and I had a proper Scottish breakfast every morning. I forgot how much I loved grilled mushrooms and roasted tomatoes with good farm-fresh eggs and lots of buttered toast. I mean, is there anything better? I think breakfast around the world is a fascinating thing to look at𠅊nd I&aposm not trying to be the dorky stereotype of myself, but even when I&aposm in tribal situations and you&aposre eating leftover stew from the night before warmed over the fire in some kind of pots, you feel like you&aposre a part of food history because that&aposs how people have been doing it for thousands of years. Even when I&aposm in Central Asia or certain African countries where they spoil their own milk and essentially make different types of yogurt, thicker or thinner—sometimes it&aposs just soured thick milk—I have found a tremendous fondness for it.
How do you think food will change in the future? In the next thirty years, what do you think are going to be some of the bigger changes we&aposll see?
Sadly, I think we&aposve been taking care of the wrong person, culturally, in America. We have spent so much time talking about diet and exercise and ways to live longer and healthier and happier for each individual, and I think that&aposs very much an American cultural totem. What can I do for me? That&aposs been something that, not just in our home life, we&aposve been doing in other parts of our lives as well. The bigger question, and what we should have been dealing with for the last thirty years, and what we need to be dealing with for next thirty years, is how do take care of our global body?
I can sit here and talk to you about food trends coming from some other place that will be the next hot thing, but it&aposs not gonna matter when you can&apost grow corn in Iowa. It&aposs not gonna matter when there are no more cows. When there&aposs an orange blight in Florida that is inevitably gonna happen and wipe out that crop. When the cabbages and bananas go away. All you have to do is look at the harvesting schedules of grapes around the world to see that crush dates are happening earlier and earlier and earlier.
Our global ecological health, when you start talking about thirty, forty years out, is going to impact our food lives more than any other trend, and unless we address our unhealthy planet, we&aposre not going to have a choice when it comes to fish. We&aposre not gonna have a choice when it comes to chicken and beef and lamb. We&aposre not gonna have a choice when it comes to vegetables and fruits, and we&aposre going to be taking half of our meals a week in a nutritional supplement that we dissolve in water.
I hope that we start thinking about our global body.
Yeah. I&aposve laid my eyes on it. I see the corollary to that is that eating well in our country is a class issue. So you throw those two things together: People who can afford a $100 hamburger are going to have one, and everyone else isn&apost. I wish I had better news on that front, but between all the work that I do away from the camera, at conferences, on Capitol Hill, educating myself, talking to experts and leaders around the world, and laying my eyes on things around the world, the biggest trend in the next, let&aposs call it, quarter- to half-century is going to be impacted by the carelessness with which we are taking care of our planet.
Rigatoni with Asparagus-Pistachio Pesto
Andrew Zimmern&rsquos Kitchen AdventuresWhen I moved to Minnesota in the 1990s, I was in treatment for chemical dependency and alcoholism. After six months, I got out and eventually found a job washing dishes and busing tables at a French restaurant in the Twin Cities called Café Un Deux Trois. It was two weeks old and already coming off the rails. Packed to the gills, it was the biggest thing to hit Minnesota since sliced bread. Literally. The owners would fly in from New York and swear at the customers (not very Minnesota Nice!), and the kitchen was run by an earnest and talented young chef hot off a few years spent in NYC cooking with David Bouley. One day a line cook called in sick, and since I had been watching his station for a few days from the vantage point of the dish room and the busers&rsquo station, I thought I could put out his food. I did, got a job as a line cook immediately and within a few weeks was asked by the owners to take over the kitchen. I brought in my own team then Michael, the restaurant manager, bought out the NYC crew (thanks Georges, Gerard and Billy!) and for the next five years, we had a huge hit on our hands. It was restaurant heaven. The only dish that survived the first menu changeover was this amazing asparagus pasta, which the old chef swore he got from Bouley. While that may or may not be true, if it&rsquos not Bouley&rsquos, it should have been&mdashit&rsquos that delicious.&mdashAndrew Zimmern
Andrew Zimmern On Rallying The Power Of Independent Restaurants
Uniting hundreds of thousands of restaurants to defend millions of jobs.
By Andrew Zimmern as told to Jake Emen
Andrew Zimmern began his career in food working as a cook in restaurants in New York, eventually finding his way to acclaim as a chef in Minneapolis. Since then he has created and hosted a number of TV shows, including Bizarre Foods and What’s Eating America among others. He is a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, an organization dedicated to lobbying on behalf of the industry and fighting for its survival.
The Independent Restaurant Coalition is about three months old, and we’ve grown to an entity that has given voice to a trillion-dollar industry with over 11 million employees. From an industry that had no voice, and no seat at the table, we’re a force to be reckoned with on the policy side of our governmental efforts.
We had three members with the largest representation at the White House meeting in May with the President. Representative Earl Blumenauer also put forth his Restaurant Act, which is advocating for our position paper that we put out in April to the House and the Senate. Our proposal, available on SaveRestaurants.com, was for the Restaurant Stabilization Act. It would take the Paycheck Protection Program—an eight-week band-aid for an 18-month problem—and actually create a triage system with the stabilization fund sufficient to match that 18-month problem.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured Representative Dean Philips of Minnesota and Representative Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, that she would put a vote on the floor for the part of the CARES Act to deal with payroll protection and other issues that the IRC has been fighting for. So we are just thrilled. Our message is growing, our membership is climbing, our influence is growing, and while there have been public faces of our group, it has been a grassroots effort that has included every single member of our coalition.
It reminds me that food people are just the best doers in the game. They put their heads down, and it’s like attacking a prep list on a busy Friday afternoon in the restaurant, after a monster lunch and you have a lot of work to do that night. We divided into teams—comms and public policy and grassroots and outreach—and we’ve been so effective because everyone has been contributing. It’s just absolutely incredible.
Our group is not left or right, or red or blue—it’s about moving forward. And the biggest takeaway so far is how massive our industry is, and how underrepresented it’s been despite its size. It’s just mind-boggling. The primary industry alone, if you just look at independent restaurants, it’s 11 to 12 million employees, and a trillion dollars. Restaurants, if you just go one step broader, is 15 million employees.
There are 650,000 independent restaurants, and we are a very special industry in several ways. Ninety-five percent of the money that comes into us goes out of us. So we’re more beneficial to the economy than any other business. What we make, we spend.
Look where we spend it—on our payroll. We’re the number-one employer of single moms, the number-one employer of returning citizens, coming out of jails and institutions, we’re the number one or number two employer of immigrants—I think it depends on what decade you’re looking at, but it’s us and agriculture. And even if we’re number two, and number one is agriculture, we’re the number-one resource for first-time job seekers, for last-time job seekers—people who are looking for part-time work who are retired. And what we spend our money on in that supply chain, all of those farmers and winemakers and butchers and dairies. The industries that we support with our dollars are staggering. Add that into where we sit in terms of tourism and what we represent, in terms of culture, it is incredibly powerful.
This is why the IRC is getting support from so many corporate partners. In the coming days, look for some big Fortune 100 companies that you wouldn’t think of being related to independent restaurants, per se, but are adjacent to us, and linking arms in this fight because we interact with their industries so well. Everything from rental cars to credit cards to airline tickets to travel agencies, and that’s just on the tourism side. It’s a massive, massively powerful group.
At the end of the day, this is about saving businesses, and saving businesses means saving jobs. When you have, what’s the latest total, about 21 million unemployed? That number is going to go up, it’ll come back down, and then it’s going to go up again because we’re not going to have a vaccine. We’re not going to have a cure, we’re not going to have anything that restores public confidence anytime soon. So it’s going to get worse.
The largest numbers on that unemployment monthly total have come from our sector. So if we can put 11 to 15 million people back to work? That is a big chunk. Independent restaurants alone are 4 percent of our GDP. This is a big economic fixit. And it is something that I’m praying does not become a political football for people to take advantage of.
This is about helping America get back on its feet because what’s good for the independent restaurant industry is good not only for our big cities, but most importantly, our small towns. Small towns may only have a handful of independent restaurants, but it’s the taxes from that independent restaurant base, and those bars and those other food-adjacent operations—they’re the ones who keep the schools open, and the roads paved, and the snow cleared, and whatever else that the municipality has to afford. Yes, they get state money. Yes, they get federal money, like any other city. But the dollars that keep the lights on—the biggest tax contributors—are independent restaurants. If you have to spend money somewhere, do it in independent restaurants, because I don’t think that anything is healthier for America right now than supporting those people.
I think this is going to impact us more than the 1918 flu, more than World War I or II. I think this is going to wind up being a bigger hinge event for us, in terms of how it fundamentally changes America. It’s a hinge event that we have not seen the likes of nationally since the Civil War. The other issue is that we have a chance to rebuild our food system in America. Not just our restaurant system—our whole food system. So if we don’t take this opportunity to fix the systemic problems that are buried inside of it, the things that were problematic even before COVID-19—if we don’t fix those now, we are really missing that opportunity. In fact, it’s the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And that is how we treat the people in our food system.
There is a sexist and gender discrimination element to all of this. There is a racist element too. This touches on immigration issues that have been kicked down the road by five administrations, Republican and Democrat, and we are paying the price for that right now. A great example is in our farm system and our meat plants. You know, there’s no “B” squad—there’s no one on the bench trained and ready to step in to start cutting meat in a factory with hog carcasses flying by you, 30 per minute. We don’t have that. And part of that has to do with our visa system, our immigration system, who we choose to have work, and how we treat them. We’ve abused food workers and farmers in America since our country was founded.
I think our relationship with food here is different. And I think we look away from the things we don’t want to see in America. We can’t make this mistake with our food system. We have to look this in the eye, we have to name the problem, and we have to go and fix this.
Farm workers deserve more money, a better workplace, and paid sick leave, just like everyone else does. And we have to radically alter the economy of our country to take care of our workers because it is always people first. If you don’t, you sometimes get away with it short-term, but then something like this pandemic comes along and spotlights the first place the system cracks.
There’s food issues underneath everything. After 58 years on this planet, I think food is actually a bigger responsibility than some of the other cabinet-level positions. So I advocate for a Food Secretary. You have this massive, massive thing that’s called a Farm Bill, but it’s really a food bill. The biggest piece of it is $750 billion in assistance programs. Let’s put that under a secretary so that the person responsible for doling out that money isn’t also the one who could be caught up in the problems of deciding who grows our food. Let’s get someone in food on our National Security Council. Let’s take hunger, and food waste, and other issues revolving around food, and put it on that same plate as our government-assistance programs relating to it, and put it all on the Food Secretary’s job description. I think it is long overdue for us to have a cabinet-level position. All you have to do is look at this pandemic.
Why aren’t we discussing food during our election cycle? Look at our school lunch program. That should be taken out of the Department of Education. We need a national school lunch program. Why is it that everything in our public schools is paid for—sufficient to educate that child, from transportation, to teacher’s salaries, to books—except food? Yet, we know that kids who are fed a proper diet, kids who are given the right type of food at the right time of day, actually do better in the classroom. They have better outcomes. It is a staggering group of statistics. I think what Dan Giusti and his group Brigaid did, leaving the best job in the food world, as the chef at Noma, to start a nonprofit? To assist in figuring out a real national school program? He’s one of my heroes. We solve the school lunch program, and you unlock a future for America that’s brighter than anything you can imagine.
Get involved and spread the message about independent restaurants. Most people cannot afford to give dollars. If you can afford to give dollars, go to SaveRestaurants.com and contribute. Go to your food banks and make a donation. The ones right in your own communities. Gotta grow where you’re planted, right? Support the change makers, you know, like Food Policy Action and Environmental Working Group and No Kid Hungry, and there’s so many great groups out there. Support them.
But more important maybe than your dollars is spreading the message with everyone on your email list. If we get national awareness of these issues, then we can get everyone to vote their conscience this November. These are the issues we need to talk about as we head into this election year. They are as important as any other issue that’s out there.
Flan: 8 Essential Recipes
Richer and more concentrated than English-style custard, flan is the quintessential Latin American fine dessert. To get the texture right, many recipes call for sweetened condensed and/or evaporated milk, and a starting off by making a rich, reddish, amber caramel is non-negotiable. Still, flan is a living, changing thing, a truth reflected in the breadth and variety of these 8 recipes.
1. Coconut Flan
Coconut milk blends with sweetened condensed milk and a touch of rum to form the basis of this cool, refreshing, and beautifully rich end to a complex and spicy meal. In classic crème caramel fashion, a wonderfully deep and amber caramel turns into a sauce and topping, all in one, when the finished flan is turned out. Get our Coconut Flan recipe.
2. Pumpkin Pie Flans
A recipe for individual flans that combines what’s delicious about flan (that is, the rich, semi-fluid amber caramel topping) and what’s best about pumpkin pie (hint: it’s the spices). This is a dessert that ends a holiday meal without heavy pastry, while still feeling celebratory. Get our Pumpkin Pie Flans recipe.
3. Burnt Sugar Flan
Whole milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla—that’s all this classic flan (a.k.a. crème caramel) calls for. The thing that makes it succeed is all in the technique: getting the proper caramel on the sugar that turns into the topping and sauce, and not overcooking, to keep the custard’s texture smooth and nongrainy. Get Herbivoracious’ Burnt Sugar Flan recipe.
4. Coffee Flan
Coffee is the secret ingredient in the caramel for this luscious home-style flan, made with condensed milk. Be patient, says, blogger Violet Tran. Good flan takes patience and experience to get just right. Get Violettran91’s Coffee Flan recipe.
5. Dulce de Leche Flan
This unusually deep-tasting flan starts out in the usual way, by lining the pan with a beautiful amber caramel. How it gets extra-delicious is by combining dulce de leche with condensed milk for the body of the custard. Get Food52’s Dulce de Leche Flan recipe.
6. Choco Flan
Here’s a three-layer Latin American–style flan. There’s a chocolate cake batter on the bottom, a standard flan custard in the middle, and a delicious cajeta or dulce de leche layer on top. Here’s where flan can be the guest of honor at a birthday or other partt. Get House2House’s Choco Flan recipe.
7. Almond Flan
Almonds are blended for two minutes with both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk in this evocative and subtly perfumed flan with a Spanish aura. Cutting it into squares for serving is an unusual idea that gets attention! Get Ceja Vineyards’ Almond Flan recipe.
8. Flan with Caramel and Orange
“My Spanish food mentor from decades ago,” writes Andrew Zimmern, “cookbook author Penelope Casas, inspired me with a flan recipe she used to cook. The orange is a classic Iberian Peninsula flavoring addition (no surprise here), but resting the flan out of the water after cooking is key.” Get Andrew Zimmern’s Flan with Caramel and Orange recipe.