The man who eats strange foods for a living now has to eat some humble pie.
Bizarre Foods host and celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern has caused a firestorm in the Asian-American and foodie communities over his comments that Chinese food in the Midwest is served in “horseshit restaurants.” Zimmern made the comments to promote his own Midwest Chinese restaurant chain, Lucky Cricket, in an interview with Fast Company. The first outlet for Lucky Cricket just opened in a Minneapolis suburb mall.
“I think I’m saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horses - - t restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest,” said Zimmern.
The full-service Lucky Cricket serves Sichuan, Xi’an, and Hong Kong cuisine. The goal is to coax the flyover rubes to try a higher form of Chinese food, Zimmern said. “So what I have to do is I have to introduce them to hot chili oil, and introduce them to a hand-cut noodle, and introduce them to a real roast duck.”
His comments have sparked not a little outrage.
Washington Post contributor Ruth Tam said Zimmern “has the noble cause of ‘saving’ white people from eating bad Chinese food. When Chinese people make Americanized Chinese food for white people, Zimmern calls it ‘horses - - t.’ But when he does it, it’s ‘unique.’ ”
The Eater food website also barked. “Zimmern simultaneously denigrates Philip Chiang . . . and elevates himself to the position of being the person capable of opening middle America’s eyes to the myriad regional cuisines of a vast, diverse culture.”
Zimmern has apologized for his imprudent remarks. “I am completely responsible for what I said and I want to apologize to anyone who was offended.”
Travel Channel recently bumped Bizarre Foods and The Zimmern List shows to Saturday mornings. Both shows have reportedly stopped filming in midseason, but a representative insisted that the moves were planned before the remarks became public.
Zimmern shows on the Cooking Channel and the Food Network continue to air.