I am back from a bit of a hiatus to get married, and what better way to start off my new life than with an interview with Award Winning Chef and Foodie Andrew Zimmern! Andrew Zimmern is best known for his days as the host of “Bizarre Foods” on Travel Channel, where he traveled to exotic destinations and sampled some common and some not-so-common local flavors. His latest adventure is a new digital series called “Big Country”, where he takes 5 individuals on once in a lifetime trips.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew earlier this week, and not only was he a gracious and chatty guest, but he also provided a very personal overview to the work he is so well known for. Along with being a chef, foodie, author and host, Andrew is an Anthropologist by profession, and his love of people and their unique cultures shines through in his words.
I hope you will enjoy watching the video and reading my abbreviated transcript below. And be sure to check out “Big Country” online at uscellular.com/bigcountry.
1. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND EAT BIZARRE FOODS? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STRANGEST THINGS YOU’VE EATEN? ARE THERE DISHES YOU JUST COULDN’T STOMACH?
There is very little that I can’t stomach, because I want to be a good guest. I don’t eat walnuts, raw cookie dough, oatmeal, and I don’t love durian. However, when someone’s grandmother is making something in a small tribal village or a small corner of the world, I have trust. In general, I trust grandmothers. You can learn more eating your way through a jungle market, than you can going through a museum. Interacting with people really gets you the most insight.
The food, when doing my show planning, is the last thing I consider, I am more interested in the people and what they do. I am more interested in telling their stories. You have to be a better version of yourself when you travel, more polite and more gracious.
That’s why we created this series called “Big Country”. To get people who don’t get to travel, and have these folks travel and see things in a new way.
We still have one spot open, so you can go to UScellular.com/bigcountry to nominate someone to come on the next trip with me.
Travel is so very important.
2. TELL US ABOUT THIS NEW PROJECT YOU’RE WORKING ON? ANY SNEAK PEAKS OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE SO FAR?
What you don’t think is going to happen which is the most powerful. We met a woman named Debbie. Debbie has never left Virginia, she raised two kids, she helped her parents. All she does is give, give, give, and she doesn’t take time for herself. So we surprised her with a trip to San Francisco. We wandered around, met my chef friends like Chris Cosentino, went go-car-ing (GPS tricycles), and we got lost (which is a metaphor for real traveling). We ended up in Baker Park under the Golden Gate Bridge talking about her family. We both got emotional, because the person I started the day with wasn’t the same as the person I ended the day with.
This experience is available to all of us. Let’s all get up off the couch, and go somewhere. Even if it’s just in your home town.
3. WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT HOMESICKNESS AND DOES IT HELP TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHEN YOU’RE ON THE ROAD?
That little thing we carry in our pockets makes a big difference. I send videos, Facetime/Skype, I try to stay connected as much as possible. People are all about trying to disconnect lately, but for me, staying disconnected if the wrong thing. I am sooo lucky, but 300 nights a year away from home can get lonely.
Technology has made it so much easier for us. I try to disconnect from things that are bad for me. But stay connected to things which I need.
4. ON A SIDE NOTE, CAN YOU PROVIDE ME WITH SOME RECS FOR MY HONEYMOON TRIP TO CAPE TOWN?
Cape Town is a modern international city with a old school vibe. The western side or western table mountain is like California was in the 60s, with additional the forest and foliage which is amazing. Go to the top of table mountain, but don’t fall off like I did! The food is super international, and if you love seafood it is great.
5. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TRIPS AND HOW CAN WE LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS LATEST ADVENTURE?
Go to: uscellular.com/bigcountry and explore. (You can even watch Episode 1!)
For me, the most memorable experiences are the tribal experiences. I got to live with 8 of them for a week at a time. From Botswana to Namibia, I learned the most by living with tribes in Africa. We look at these people and we tend to think of them as being somehow less than, but this is not true. Every member of a tribe is required to be everything to the tribe and contribute to the betterment of the group. If we could duplicate some of these behaviors in our lives, we could all be a bit better off!
What a wonderful experience I had to chat with such a famous and yet humble chef, foodie, and fellow person of the world. I hope you all enjoy the interview and the new series “Big Country”! And as always, wishing you great eats wherever you are! Bon Appétit!