Andrew Zimmern, from Travel Channel’s shows Bizarre Foods and The Zimmern List, has been criticized heavily for his statement concerning midwestern chinese restaurants. Although the Travel Channel denies that Zimmern was removed because of the criticism, all of his shows have been degraded from prime time to the low-trafficked Saturday morning slots.
The controversy arose while Zimmern was promoting his own Chinese restaurant, Lucky Cricket. In an interview with Fast Company, Zimmern claimed he wanted to give Americans in the midwest a taste of “real” Chinese. “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,” Zimmern had said, adding “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.”
One such critic was Ruth Tam of the Washington Post. She berated Zimmern, claiming that he “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 website also took a bite: “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.”
Regretfully, Zimmern apologized later: “I am completely responsible for what I said and I want to apologize to anyone who was offended.” Filming has also allegedly stopped midseason for both of his shows. They continue to air on Food Network and the Cooking Channel, but have been moved to Saturday mornings on the Travel Channel. According to a Travel Channel representative, “The shows, along with other food content on Travel, will no longer air on prime time, but on Saturday mornings in rotation. This decision came before Andrew’s comments were made.”
Fans also made their feelings known concerning the interview, commenting on his Twitter post such things as: “Minnesota is great & has many distinct authentic Chinese cuisine styles. MN doesn’t need your patronizing McChina either. Asians are part of the American fabric, & Americans can make Chinese food fine w/o you. Be honest when you exploit Orientalism for franchise profit.”
Another follower added: “This was a disgusting interview, Andrew. I am so deeply disappointed in you. Please spend some time reading the multiple responses and articles and give them some real thought. Your words have hurt so many.” Despite his apology, it seems Zimmern’s future with the Travel Channel, at least, has come to an end.