Andrew Zimmern has made a career out of traveling the world and eating Bizarre Foods. The James Beard Foundation (JBF) recently honored with a third accolade the man who loves exploring remote corners of the globe while understanding cultures through food. Zimmern is coming to Wölffer Estates in Sagaponack to host Chefs and Champagne New York on Saturday, July 20, 2013. Surprisingly enough, everything started for the food enthusiast on the East End. He sat down with us and discussed the JBF, his views on food, and his ongoing love affair with the Hamptons.
Congratulations on receiving another award from the James Beard Foundation. Were you surprised?
Yes, it was a big shock, because I've won two other James Beard Awards. I figured the fair thing was for someone else to win it. But as I was watching my reel at the ceremony, a little voice inside my head said, wow, this is really good. I could win! I'm just so proud of and excited for my field crew. This award is as much about them as it is about me.
We heard you spent your childhood in the Hamptons?
My family's relationship with that part of New York goes back to the late 1940s, when my father came back from World War II. Family friends came out to the East End of Long Island, and we fell in love with it. It was a much different world back then; it really was a place of artists, painters and the bon vivant. I spent all my summers and almost every weekend on the South Fork up until about 20 years ago.
What's your favorite thing about coming out east?
That's easy: the ocean. Nothing even comes close to it. I grew up in the water and on the water. I like going to the beach in the morning and not leaving until the sun has set. We used to actually eat our meals at the beach. My dad would come down and we'd haul ropes of mussels up from the jetties. It sounds very romantic, but it's actually the way it was.
On your show Bizarre Foods, you eat some rather interesting delicacies. What are your favorite foods to eat in the Hamptons?
I really like bluefish pate and puffer fish tails, but even food lovers have a hard time understanding those foods. In the Hamptons, I'd love to see people become more involved and get their hands a little dirty. As a kid, fishing and foraging for our meals was a great time! Out east, everyone loves to highlight the fruits and vegetables. And, yes, they are magical, but the local fish are just as amazing.
Would you ever consider filming an episode of your show in the Hamptons?
Absolutely! I've been fighting an uphill battle to film a show out east for a while now. The Hamptons sometimes gets a bad rap with everyone hating on the glitz and glamour. People are upset because of a party they can't attend or they are busy fighting over beach passes. This place has a fantastic history, and I'd like to showcase the cultural touchpoints of the area. I could really showcase the uniqueness of the South Fork through food.
You are known for having travelled everywhere. What's so special about this place?
It's true; I've travelled all over the world. But there is something so special about the East End. Sitting on Georgica Beach at night and watching the sunset is just incredible. I've yet to find to find a place more beautiful.
· Chefs & Champagne [JBF]