Bizarre Foods host on new show, travel tips, addiction hope

NEW YORK (AP) — Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” thinks he’s misunderstood.

He says he’s known as “fat guy runs around world, eats bugs,” but adds, “I don’t think I’ve eaten a bug or an organ in ‘Bizarre Foods’ in years.”

“I purposely set out to make a show that’s entertaining,” he said. “At the same time I try to be very thoughtful and thought-provoking and I try to educate and I take the cultural lessons of the show very, very, very seriously.”

The show’s current season focuses on American destinations, along with their history and social context. And a new show, “The Zimmern List,” debuts early 2018 showcasing his favorite places, “where I actually go when the cameras aren’t rolling.”

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Zimmern — a chef who’s won four James Beard awards — invited The Associated Press to follow him in Queens, New York, for a glimpse of what “The Zimmern List” will be like. In the Astoria neighborhood, he sampled cured meats and pastries at Muncan Food Corp., founded by an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia; then had a goat dish called katakat at Kababish, which serves Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi food in Jackson Heights; and finished with Taiwanese noodle soup, pork roll and minced vegetables at Happy Stony Noodle in Elmhurst.

Faisel and Hera Shaikh, from Ashburn, Virginia, were picking up food from Kababish when Zimmern appeared. After taking a few selfies with him, Faisel Shaikh said he’s dined at places recommended by Zimmern around the world, from Dubai to Australia.

“I see his show and I write it down,” Shaikh said. “Wherever he goes, I go.” Shaikh says he likes the show because Zimmern tells “the whole story … the culture, the society, the background, about where the food comes from.”

Here are some excerpts from AP’s wide-ranging chat with Zimmern, including advice on using social media to find good food when you travel, and a message of hope for families struggling with addiction.

FINDING GOOD FOOD WHEN YOU TRAVEL

“I google local food writers. … I look up who are the most famous chefs on the Eater Heatmap but I also look on the Michelin guide and see who are the three-star Michelin chefs.”

“People forget that if you go onto Instagram or Twitter, you can actually click on someone’s feed and look at their timeline and you can flip back and back and…

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