Interview with Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern

In the world of gastronomy, where diverse flavors and cultural traditions intertwine, one name stands out as a culinary adventurer extraordinaire – Andrew Zimmern. As a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, esteemed chef, and intrepid world traveler, Andrew has dedicated his life to exploring global cuisines and promoting cultural acceptance through food. had the pleasure of sitting down with this culinary maverick to discuss his passion for diverse flavors, his captivating newsletter “Spilled Milk,” and the philanthropic endeavors that make his culinary journey even more remarkable.

Famadillo: You’ve had an extraordinary culinary journey, exploring diverse cuisines and promoting cultural acceptance through food. How has your understanding of different cultures and their cuisines evolved over the years, and what lessons do you think the world can learn from the way people connect through food?

Andrew Zimmern: “Food is the best lens, the best tool, and the best operating mechanism through which to evaluate and change culture. When I was in the Valley of the Moon in Jordan living with nomadic peoples whose ancestors have lived there for thousands of years, I learned how their cultural system was based on hospitality. Their food was for wanderers to share. Their beds and blankets were for all who needed them. Their sense of caring for others was part of engaging with emotional transactions rather than monetary ones. We could and should all strive to live with that mindset, and that’s just one of hundreds of examples.”

Famadillo: Spilled Milk offers readers a wide range of content, including recipes, travel blogs, and opinions. With such a diverse mix, how do you strike a balance between sharing your own experiences and encouraging readers to explore and form their own culinary perspectives?

Andrew Zimmern: “I trust my gut and let the audience and their interests guide the offerings. I am such a culture geek, and I read and obsessively stay curious, looking at everything. So, if something seems important to address on any of our three offerings a week, I try to get on it. I know I’m doing something right. Almost two years ago, in my first post, I insisted everyone go to Cyprus in the summer… it has everything and isn’t overrun in the summer. Now everyone is insisting on Cyprus and Crete as Must-Gos. I love doing my weekly recipes and AMAs, and our audience seems to love them too. I want to inform and inspire and let people make their own food and travel decisions.”

Famadillo: The subscription to Spilled Milk not only provides readers with fascinating content but also contributes to charitable organizations like World Central Kitchen. How did you come up with the idea of incorporating a charitable aspect into your newsletter, and what impact do you hope to achieve through these contributions?

Andrew Zimmern: “Well, we always have taken a portion of the proceeds and donated them. I think it’s the right way to live and that we all have an obligation to be of service to others.”

Famadillo: As a seasoned traveler and food enthusiast, you’ve encountered unique and sometimes challenging culinary experiences around the world. Can you share a story?

Andrew Zimmern: “Challenging??? Indeed. I was in Cambodia at Lake Tonle Sap on a floating village, fishermen who lash their rafts together, float with the tides, and live on the lake itself. One fisherman shared his catch with me and insisted his wife make me lunch. Their raft had thin bamboo walls and a thatch roof with windows and a door cut out with no coverings. By wood burning cooking brazier, there was a small cut out a few inches above the floor. As the fisherman’s family prepared lunch, they would lean their arms out the window to clean vegetables, cutting implements, cooking pans, fish filets, etc. in the water rushing with the tide by the house.

While the lunch was being finished, we set up a shot where I would stick my head out the low window. Our videographer would lean out the door and get a hero shot of me looking out over the lake and the village. On the first take, I noticed the dead animals and human waste flowing freely by us since we were tethered towards the end of the floating village. The crew and director told me that under the circumstances maybe I shouldn’t eat the food! I disagreed. These people had nothing but the clothes on their backs and they were sharing their entire humble catch of just a few lake fish with us. Some days it’s better to be a good guest than anything else. I ate the lunch, I didn’t get sick, and I got to show the world that kindness, respect, graciousness, and thankfulness sometimes trumps all.”

 Andrew Zimmern’s culinary journey is an inspiration, illustrating how food can transcend borders and foster cultural understanding. Through his thought-provoking newsletter “Spilled Milk” and his commitment to charitable giving, he continues to enrich the world with not just delicious flavors but also with compassion and goodwill. As the gastronomic globe-trotter, Andrew’s mission is clear—to unite humanity one delectable bite at a time.