AfterPartyHero: The Food Star Who Ate His Way to Recovery Awareness
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AfterPartyHero: The Food Star Who Ate His Way to Recovery Awareness


Andrew Zimmern

This post was originally published on May 15, 2014.

Welcome to our newest edition of AfterPartyHeroes, where we celebrate the lives and achievements of noteworthy and sober individuals, or of those offering a helping hand to addicts in need.

Today we turn our eye to a man who fits both of these criteria—a more than recognizable face for many of our readers. We’re talking about Andrew Zimmern, host of the hit show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel.

Zimmern’s Physical and Spiritual Journey

The show tracks Zimmern all around the world as he travels to out-of-reach locations to taste the unimaginable. Past highlights from the show include blood stew from the Phillippines, steamed sheep’s head from Marrakech, and many other ingenious food concoctions. But what many might not know about Zimmern is that his life hasn’t always been so glamorous; his turnaround is actually nothing short of miraculous.

Zimmern’s life seems to have been defined by two things. The first was a life long passion for food, a passion that took him to apprenticeships in Italy and France, an executive chef position at Minneapolis’s Cafe Un Deux Trois, and to current Travel Channel fame (among many other food-related life highlights). The second factor was a life as a self-described “experience junkie,” a man who would bravely go where most would fear to tread.

It was this second factor—still a key part of his beloved television persona today—that led him into a variety of problems with addiction. Still, Zimmern has been admirably forthcoming in discussing his battles so that others can benefit from his experience—including writing a confessional essay about his experiences that can be found in a condensed version on the Huffington Post.

Zimmern explains that at his bottom he was homeless in Manhattan and either squatting or sleeping on the streets, often with a circle of powdered Comet around him to keep the rats away at night. Through a friend’s helpful intervention, Zimmern got sober after checking into Hazelden in 1992, and has been sober ever since.

Delicious Turnaround

Beyond his personal rebirth, Zimmern has proven himself something of a renaissance man throughout his professional life as well. Aside from being a master chef, Zimmern is also a contributing editor at Food & Wine Magazine, a senior editor at Delta Sky Magazine, as well as a published author in his own right with several of his own titles.

More recently, in 2012, Zimmern was able to add entrepreneurship to his esteemed resume, having launched a food truck business in Minneapolis called AZ Canteen. The title is appropriate not only for his initials, but for the alphabetical scope of his life experiences. For his resilience, and for being living proof that the only limits in a life of recovery are the ones people put on themselves—Andrew Zimmern, we salute you.

To see all our AfterParty Heroes, click here.

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About Author

Ryan Aliapoulios is a freelance writer and editor. He also hosts Dad Bops, the world's first intersectional vegan comedy podcast about dad music, available on iTunes and Soundcloud.