If it can be eaten, Andrew Zimmern has probably had at least a bite or two. Roasted insects, entrails of all shapes and sizes, exotic fruits—almost nothing is too strange for his palette. It’s all in a day’s work for the Big Apple native, a chef, writer and host of the Travel Channel series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. In late September, Jax Mag caught up with the world-traveling gastronome at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, a six-week celebration of all things edible that runs through November 16 at the Orlando attraction. After enjoying a couple gourmet burgers, we had the chance to fire five questions at him.
Best burger you’ve ever eaten? I grew up in New York City, 71st and Lexington Avenue. The burger I was weaned on, and it’s still open, is the burger at JG Melon on Third Avenue. Best hamburger in the world. That’s the one I grew up on. Every burger I ever eat is measured against it.
Best meal you had this month? I was in Nashville last week and I had dinner at Pat Martin’s Bar-B-Que, one of the best barbecue spots in the country. I’ll put that in as a tie with my dinner, almost a month ago, at the NoMad in New York City.
On the show, anything you’ve refused to eat? Yes, twice. I’ve been in this business for 35 years. You know, I’m not an actor who got this job. So twice I’ve seen foods that I knew were guaranteed trips to the hospital. The person serving me didn’t realize how toxically poisoned they were. One was a chicken intestine on the Philippine island of Palawan, way in the South. They’ll take chicken intestines, clean them, wind them on sticks and grill them. They’re delicious. But this one hadn’t been cooked—it was like medium rare and I could see that it had lots of polyps and blue spots on it. I knew it was from a sick bird. I thought, “raw, sick chicken intestine...no.” So I said, “no.” I’m allowed to say that every once in a while.
Last meal, should you ever have to request it? That’s an easy thing. I’m sitting on the beach, Georgica Beach, East Hampton Long Island. I have a big bushel of giant cherry stone clams in front of me and a clam knife. The sun is setting. I have my mom’s gazpacho. I have my wife’s roast chicken. And some homemade, really-bitter-not-too-sweet espresso ice cream, with a little bit of hot fudge sauce from Prince Puckler’s in Eugene, Oregon, which is my favorite hot fudge sauce of all time. And I would go out very merrily.
Current weight and body fat? Oh my god. I just weighed myself yesterday. I’m 234 pounds of rompin’, stompin’ pig iron. I don’t know what my body fat or BMI (body mass index) is, but I look awesome!