Hi! I’m Andrew Zimmern, chef, food writer and host of TV's Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.

This summer I’m partnering with U.S. Cellular, a wireless carrier offering national network coverage, to premiere “Big Country,” a five-episode digital series where we find deserving customers from across the U.S. and take them to places they’ve always wanted to visit. U.S. Cellular developed the series to allow customers a chance to experience amazing sights and tastes around the country, all while staying connected to their family and friends back home. I’m here today to answer questions and share tips about managing life on the road.

FYI – U.S. Cellular is searching for one more hopeful explorer to star in the fifth and final episode of “Big Country.” Be sure to apply or nominate someone at www.USCellular.com/BigCountry by August 10.

I'll start answering questions at 12:30pm ET.

For proof that it's me, check me out here: https://twitter.com/andrewzimmern/status/626771690626744320

Thanks, Reddit! Sorry I couldn’t answer all of your questions but you can find me on www.twitter.com/andrewzimmern and we can chat more there. You can always find lots of awesome recipes, travel guides and other information at andrewzimmern.com. And don’t forget to apply or nominate someone to star in the fifth and final episode of “Big Country” at www.USCellular.com/BigCountry by August 10. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Comments: 861 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

Maint_Man13240 karma

Nice to see you on Reddit! Are you and Anthony Bourdain friends or is that just mutual respect on the show?

andrewzimmern334 karma

There is a lot of mutual respect, I think we both feel that there's a very small club of authentic, honest, chroniclers of modern culture as it relates to food and we are both on each others lists of who that is, but yes, we are also friends and talk and communicate away from our professional lives whenever time allows.

EternaBoi174 karma

Is there any food that you simply turned down, causing you to say, "Nope, that's too bizarre, even for me"?

andrewzimmern375 karma

Three of four times I've turned down food because I knew that it was a trip to the hospital, not a night of throwing up. I've taken risks, where I thought I might get the travelers trots for a day, all in the name of being a good guest in someone's home, but I was once presented with rotted chicken intestines that had discolorations on them that convinced me I was looking at the guts of a sick animal and I turned that down right away.

jtse57137 karma

What was the worst sickness you've had after eating and what food was it?

andrewzimmern290 karma

In 2005, I contracted a virus from eating tainted cumin in Northern Africa. Occasionally once a year I have a flare-up of a rare disease called burning mouth syndrome. I pass it off as a simple casualty of war.

CaptainApathy419136 karma

What's your go-to comfort food?

andrewzimmern377 karma

Gas station pizza.

Bentumbo133 karma

Whats the most surprisingly tasty food you've eaten?

andrewzimmern296 karma

Here's a list: donkey is delicious, one of my favorite meats, bees in Taiwan are surprisingly good when wok-tossed the right way and my favorite is probablydeep fried little baby birds of all species

forstalker108 karma

Forget about the food. What's the favorite beverage you ever had and that you recommend?

andrewzimmern204 karma

I still wish the coca-cola bottling company would sell their best selling African beverage Stoney Tangawizi in America. It's a killer ginger beer.

thegoodherb94 karma

Where in the United States is a good place to purchase edible insects?

andrewzimmern120 karma

There are tons of local resources, most insects in America traditionally have been raised for pet consumption, but a simple google search will turn up plenty of local companies wherever you live that are now raising crickets and mealworms specifically for people to eat.

Marylandman10192 karma

Just curious, have you ever faced any discrimination for being Jewish or an American in some of the countries you've been to?

andrewzimmern208 karma

It happens all the time. More so for being an American which these days is not always the greatest calling card, but I wear my patriotism on my sleeve. Often times I see my job as being the best example I can be of a white 54 year old Jewish American. In the hope that somewhere, somehow, someone sees me for who I really am and it changes their mind about an unfair assumption they might have made.

informareWORK90 karma

Hey Andrew! Did you enjoy your time in Oaxaca? You met up with a friend of mine named Alice who is a writer and photographer and she had nothing but good things to say about you, and I was super jealous! I spent a week there around that same time and it was a wonderful time.

andrewzimmern130 karma

Oaxaca was awesome and Alice was a great travel companion. Please say hi to her for me. The food there is unique, magical, and culturally relevant in a way that other regions of Mexico aren't. Our Oaxaca show is going to blow people's minds when it aires this fall.

kessdawg89 karma

Hey! Fellow Minnesotan here.
A couple questions:

When Anthony Bourdain was here a few days ago he talked about how all his daughter's second grade friends wanted to know was if he knew you and if you really eat brains. My question is obviously: Would you rather fight 100 brain sized Anthony Bourdains, or one Anthony Bourdain sized brain?

On the Taiwan episode I saw that you spat out stinky tofu. Was this the most unpleasant thing you've ever eaten?

andrewzimmern120 karma

One of the things that Tony and I occasionally have a lot of fun discussing is our children's TV likes and dis-likes. His daughter and her schoolmates are big fans of Bizarre Foods and my 10-year old couldn't care less about my stuff but loves Parts Unknown.

billberge70 karma

Who would win in a fight... Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?

andrewzimmern194 karma

Neither, Robert Irvine could take them both. In all seriousness, both of those English dudes are super scrappy.

dewbone62 karma

You have the power to switch one culture's cuisine with another. Which would be the best and worst switches you could make?

andrewzimmern111 karma

I think it would be fun to swap the food of Italy or Mexico (two of the most diverse and regional cuisines) with the food culture of Mongolia that is one of the most limited and closed cuisine cultures in the world. Mongolian food is delicious but it's all about milk and meat.

jcush31356 karma

What is your favorite food to cook for yourself?

andrewzimmern164 karma

My favorite food to cook for myself when my family is away is a very large bowl of the most impeccable mussels and clams cooked in white wine, parsley and butter and piled over a small tangle of very, very thin noodles.

pancakebatterboy56 karma

What's the status of 'Go Fork Yourself'? Is it coming back? My wife and I are big fans!

andrewzimmern70 karma

Go Fork Yourself is coming back better and bigger than ever. We apologize for the inconvenience but your patience will be rewarded.

AbsolutZer0_v244 karma

Andrew - I am a big fan, and have enjoyed your food at Target Field on a regular basis.

Will you continue the partnership next year? And can you give us any hints on what may be on the menu?

andrewzimmern46 karma

I hope all my partnerships for AZ Canteen continue, we are growing our company every year and we're always developing new and different foods to present at stadiums.

shortenjam39 karma

Andrew, huge fan of yours!!

Recently saw somewhere online that you highly recommend Croatia as a destination, including eating seafood right off the beaches...

I looked into booking a trip briefly but was caught off guard by the amount of larger cities in Croatia, so, where should I go?

P.S. Totally wish I had your job!

andrewzimmern78 karma

I would base my Croatia vacation out of Split and spend as much time out in the islands as you possibly can.

seablizz36 karma

Do you have any morning after advice for after hot wing challenge attempts?

andrewzimmern120 karma

No offense, but anyone participating in any kind of food challenge should understand that it's the poison tree from which all the fruit falls.

soomuchcoffee36 karma

Would you ever host a straightforward cooking show? You seem like a funny dude, I think it would be entertaining. And not just "AZ Cooks Weird Shit." That'd be too easy. I'd be actually interested in your takes on regular old food.

andrewzimmern63 karma

Yes, we are working on one right now.

Officer_Warr33 karma

Do you find yourself wanting to go back and make anything from Bizarre Foods on a regular basis, if not what do you think are your most regular/common dishes to eat?

andrewzimmern41 karma

I cook foods that I learn how to make on the road every week and many of them wind up as recipes on andrewzimmern.com and on Food & Wine Magazine's website.

ElonComedy32 karma

Do you have any interesting instances where you offended a local?

andrewzimmern75 karma

Several times, I've been in homes with observant Muslim families. We'll spend a couple hours eating and having a good time and I forget that observant Muslim women prefer not to be touched for a variety of very important reasons. The problem is, when I get really happy, I forget what I'm doing or where I am and I happen to be a big hugger. This has presented some real challenges over the years. If anybody wants to have a good laugh, check out our Fez, Morocco show.

VEyeDoubleNWhy30 karma

What Food Network star's restaurant is your favorite?

andrewzimmern56 karma

This may surprise people because some of the best restaurants in the country are operated b chefs that appear on Food Network. Most of them are my friends, so I don't like to pick favorites, however when Scott Conant is doing the cooking, he creates some of my favorite food anywhere.

Ruinsofahero30 karma

Big fan of yours Andrew!

As a young person that really wants to travel abroad and experience some fantastic cuisine, what country would you recommend visiting?

andrewzimmern75 karma

I think for young people the most important aspect of travel is going somewhere and getting lost. When I was in my teens, you could do that in Europe, you can't do that anymore. So my current suggestion, especially because many of those countries afford fast, cheap, safe travel options for young people, would be South America. Especially countries like Ecuador and Chile and Brazil and Peru... I also still think that the best thing a young person can do for themselves is spend some time in the Peace Corps.

randomsofa25 karma

Hello! Glad to see you on Reddit! So I would like to ask: what cuisine is your favorite and why?

andrewzimmern54 karma

If you put a gun to my head it's Chinese food. It's extremely regional and distinct, with a much broader range of styles, ingredients and dishes than anyone can imagine.

Flaakinator18 karma

Have you ever eaten in Louisville Kentucky? Where, what'd you get.

If not what is your favorite food related show?

andrewzimmern23 karma

Yes, I love eating in Louisville and I try to go wherever Ed Lee tells me to.

mickeyknoxnbk17 karma

Does U.S. Cellular have enough money to build a time machine? Because I'd like to go back in time and visit El Bulli.

andrewzimmern19 karma

That's a great idea. I'm a big Ryan Adams fan and he famously just played a two-night gig at The Ryman and he didn't record or tape it in any way. His point was that some experiences are simply meant to be experienced as they are, which is why I treasure my visits to El Bulli because that's another example of something that should never be recreated and should give everyone the impetus to get out more and experience things as they're happening and not keep telling yourself, "Oh, I'll get there someday" because it may be gone.

mnovem914 karma

Andrew, there seems to be a resurgence in the past few years in the culinary arts. I live in in a small town in West Virginia and we have been delighted with all sorts of new takes of foods (not to mention more locally grown). What can we attribute this to?

andrewzimmern25 karma

We are in the most romantic era in the history of world culture when it comes to food especially here in America. Television (Food Network, Travel Channel, etc.) and the emergence through television of chefs as cultural icons has done more to expand our food lives than any other example I can think of.

LittleMissBaxter11 karma

What's your go-to-meal to make for your family when you're home?

Were you involved in picking these "Big Country" cities or were they all picked by the winners? What did you think of people's choices? Any city/region in the U.S. that you'd like to see picked next?

My husband and I are big fans of yours here in Denmark, we plan our vacations by watching your episodes and trying to go to the same places!

andrewzimmern12 karma

About the "Big Country" cities, those choices were made by the designees who traveled with me and the production company that is making that digital series. I hope we get to do these all the time and get to visit many more locations.

brandoi11 karma

Are there any foods that you eat that you don't show on camera? If so, what's the weirdest and best thing you haven't shown on camera.

andrewzimmern18 karma

After a full day of shooting I usually don't have room for anything more than a salad in my hotel room at 11 o'clock at night. And if anything strange or unusual pops up, we always endeavor to shoot it.

doctabaude10 karma

1.) Favorite Pizza Place?

2.) Favorite Pizza Chain in a pinch?

3.) Must have regular pizza toppings?

4.) Must have BIZZARE pizza toppings?

PS:) You've dropped weight in a lot of the most recent episodes of stuff I've seen - you look good. Keep it up.

andrewzimmern28 karma

1.) Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, AZ. Second favorite is Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, MN. 2.) I avoid pizza chains, I would rather eat trashy gas station pizza any day of the week. 3.) Depends on my mood, but I rarely use meat toppings. 4.) I don't think about food that way.

AGhostLP9 karma

Something I've always wondered, ever since I saw you eat raw pork on Bizarre Foods (I forget where, maybe Hungary?)-- did you ever have to take any precautions in order to prevent food-borne illness if you knew you may be consuming some questionable cuisine?

andrewzimmern25 karma

Raw pork and raw chicken are very, very, very edible and very, very, very delicious. HOWEVER, you have to be very careful about what species, where the animal came from, what the preparation is.

Flamdoozle9 karma

What is your favorite culinary experience in NYC?

andrewzimmern22 karma

New York is the greatest food town on planet Earth. My suggestion for anyone who wants to do something different there is to go explore the hundred plus cuisines represented very well in the borough of Queens.

weevhy8 karma

I've noticed that you and Anthony Bourdain have occasionally had interesting chemistry. Overall, who has been your favorite "food personality" to work with?

andrewzimmern15 karma

If I had to pick a few food personalities who are regularly on television to work with, it would be Bobby Flay because he's still, despite overwhelming proof to the contrary, under-appreciated as a culinarian because he's so good on television. I would love to work more with Batali and Symon, I have a blast with them every time we're hanging out or working together. I would love to do more work with Alex Guarnaschelli, and the big wild card for me is that I'm kind of obsessed with Dominique Crenn so I'd like to do something with her.

Viper6177 karma

How do you deal with the jet lag and time differences. I assume that theres a short schedule to film each episode of bizarre foods so its must be difficult at times. What are some of your tricks?

andrewzimmern9 karma

Yes, there is a short schedule to film each episode of Bizarre Foods, so yes my trick is simply to live on the other countries time zone the moment I land at the airport.

Stink_Snake7 karma

What's a food in my backyard, Houston, that I need to try?

andrewzimmern17 karma

One of the coolest things in Houston is the explosion of tex-namese food. The Viet-Texas hybrid has resulted in some of the best crawfish and crab experiences I've ever had.

urgentmatters6 karma

Out of all the Southeast Asian countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, etc.) you've visited, which has the tastiest cuisine?

Bonus: Which country did you have the most favorable experience as a tourist?

andrewzimmern7 karma

I would say it's a tie between Thailand and Vietnam, but the experience of eating my way through countries like Cambodia and Laos was more eye opening because I was less familiar with their food. As a tourist, very few countries in the world can top Thailand, great food, great beaches, great people, amazing mountains and interiors.

xaxaxaxaxaxa5 karma

When's the new season of bizarre foods?

andrewzimmern14 karma

Starts in September.

Your_Jaws_My_Balls4 karma

Hello Mr. Zimmern. First of all thank you so much for taking the time to do this AMA. I am a huge fan of the show and often find myself watching and enjoying even the re-runs my DVR catches. Just last night I watched the Dubai episode where you met with a female guide who you described as the most brutal market haggler ever. My question is do you just happen to know people from all over the world like that or does the network arrange these guides for you and plan your itinerary?

andrewzimmern10 karma

We select and cast our on-camera "guides" very carefully. We like it to be someone with a good personality fit with me and someone who is super knowledgeable, but most importantly they have to compliment my lack of expertise in a given subject. The network does not plan our itinerary or our stories, that's simply a development process that we take very seriously at our production company.

Dr_Snarky4 karma

SPAM! You eat normal plastic-wrapped deli meat I presume, so why do you still have so much disdain for this beautiful metal-wrapped meat?

andrewzimmern19 karma

Here's my problem with Spam, it's horrifically low-quality commodity meat, cooked in a can, and created to be shelf stable. I simply don't eat any foods like that, of any kind, anywhere.

Marylandman1014 karma

What country would you like to go to but never have?

andrewzimmern12 karma

Poland, Uruguay (so I can cross South America off my continent list), New Zealand, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iraq, Uzbekistan, and I would love to spend more time in Russia and China, those are big countries that I can return to again and again, but probably the first place I would want to check out, if I had a choice, would be Western Africa.

EditingAndLayout4 karma

Who in your opinion has the best fast-food burger?

andrewzimmern20 karma

I wouldn't call it fast-food, but Shake Shack and Smash Burger are the two chains that I will always stop at for a burger.

ringkun4 karma

What celebrity do you want to eat with on or off your show?

andrewzimmern44 karma

I want to take Bono to Africa and explore the challenges there that food represents. I want to explore the world with a whole range of people who I imagine would be great company, but probably the person that I want to travel with the most is my son.

bonniesk3 karma

What are the best and worst parts about being a food writer?

andrewzimmern3 karma

Best part is the opportunity to express your opinions and the side benefit is that if you're really into writing and I mean REALLY into writing the exercise of putting words on paper helps you to develop an opinion on a subject or an idea. The worst part about being a food writer is the process of actually getting in front of your laptop and doing the actual writing.