Q&A with Andrew Zimmern

Andrew+Zimmern+speaking+at+WHS+on+January+2nd%2C+2019.+Photo+by+Deena+Kassem.
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Q&A with Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern speaking at WHS on January 2nd, 2019. Photo by Deena Kassem.

Andrew Zimmern speaking at WHS on January 2nd, 2019. Photo by Deena Kassem.

Andrew Zimmern speaking at WHS on January 2nd, 2019. Photo by Deena Kassem.

Andrew Zimmern speaking at WHS on January 2nd, 2019. Photo by Deena Kassem.

Deena Kassem and Kelsey Deering

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  On January 3rd, with help impart from the COMPASS Ecology of Foods Teacher Miriam Lejonvarn, Professional Chef and the host of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods Andrew Zimmern came to Wayzata High School to talk to students about his travels and his extensive career in the food industry, according to Lejonvarn.
  Zimmern has an extensive entertainment and culinary background, according to Lejonvarn. Zimmern is a American culinary expert, chef, television personality, radio personality, restaurateur, director, entrepreneur, teacher, food critic, producer, journalist, and author.
  A Twin Cities local, Zimmern has restaurants scattered across the major metropolitan area. Zimmern’s most recent restaurant, the Lucky Cricket. is a Chinese-American chain that opened up in St. Louis Park in early 2018.
  “His global perspective and understanding of the history of food matches the content in most COMPASS and Culinary classes. He has asked to have a wider audience so we opened it up to the entire school,” said Lejonvarn.
  “A parent of one of our students had bid on an event to spend a Twins Game with with him while eating food from his stand, Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen,” said Lejonvarn. “She won the bid and during their time together, she mentioned our class and he agreed to speak to our students.”
  Zimmern addressed over 300 students in the high school auditorium as well as personally speaking to the separate COMPASS class.
  “His time with just our class was amazing! Our students had questions prepared and many of the themes of our class (sustainability, hunger, food history, food waste, food preparation, etc.) was covered during our conversation. He was very generous with his time; he stayed much longer than was initially scheduled,” said Lejonvarn. “This event will forever be a highlight of my career.”

Q: Why did you choose to come to Wayzata High School?
A: Young kids are a blank slate. The world has gotten increasingly more complex so any chance I get to talk to a group of kids, I want to do it, whether it’s about learning or talking about a new subject. When I was young, I always felt like people didn’t understand me; I feel every generation goes through the exact same thing. I’m a pop culture junkie and young people in general have way more interesting ideas.
Q: What’s the best student question you received?
A: When a young kid that asked how I got into heroin, everyone was like gasped, but that’s the best question I could’ve been asked. With 300 people, I can guarantee you there’s someone struggling with addiction. If I was in that place when I was younger, hearing somebody speak on addiction would have saved me years of hardship.
Q: When did you know you wanted to go into the food industry?
A: Since I was five or six. I’ve always known I wanted to cook and work with food.
Q: What is the most bizarre food you’ve ever eaten?
A: Once we were in the South African rainforests that scientists have been unable to taxonomize. Sometimes we stumble upon tribes eating an endangered species and we have to cut it from the show. One time, I ate a worm that lives in the coral reef in the deep pacific Marianas Trench. When it’s hot, these worms float to the top and that’s when they’re harvested. It was delicious. They die in the sunlight and fertilize the ground.
Q: What is your opinion on vegetarian/vegan diet?
A: Veganism is fantastic and super healthy. A friend of mine who’s vegan told me about adopting a vegan lifestyle before dinner. By being vegan for breakfast and lunch then going all out for dinner, you don’t have sugar crashes. I’m more vegetarian friendly, and I understand the impacts of veganism on the environment. America is the only country in the world where a 15 ounce piece of meat is the main course, like a big steak, half chicken, or slab of salmon. If we all ate meat in the Asian style where meat is more of an accent, a few ounces, our carbon footprint would be greatly reduced.
Q: What inspires you to do what you do?
A: From a selfish standpoint, it’s really fun; I love my job. After a while, I realized I was making a difference by making an entertainment show. For some people it’s just “I”ve had a hard day, I want to unwind and watch Andrew Zimmern travel and eat weird foods.” But for a lot of people, it’s about teaching patience, tolerance, and understanding in a world that needs cultural education.
Q: What’s your favorite spot in the Twin Cities?
A: The Twin Cities is an explosively hot food mecca right now, and it’s growing. I have been eating at a chinese restaurant called Shuang Cheng. It’s not that it’s the best food in all of Minnesota, I just love the atmosphere.
Q: What country do you think has the best cuisine?
A: China and Mexico, in terms of versatility, regionality, different cooking styles, and different techniques have amazing cuisine. The influence these countries have had on cuisine around the world is unbelievable.
Q: What are you future plans?
A: I’m leaving soon for Israel to do an event in Tel Aviv to cook dinner.

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