TV chef Zimmern talks Milwaukee
Chef-turned-travel expert Andrew Zimmern is probably best known for his adventures criss-crossing the globe as the creator and host of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods." During his travels, the New York native-turned-Minnesotan has eaten a broad range of adventurous fare, from squirrel in the Appalachians to cow's blood in Tanzania.
But, it's Zimmern's desire to gain an intimate understanding of culture through food that drives his travels. That same desire is reflected in one of his latest projects, a series of webisodes called "Appetite for Life."
Zimmern visited Milwaukee this weekend for a whirlwind trip featuring visits to Sweetwater Organics and Clock Shadow Creamery. I was fortunate enough to catch up with him during one of his rare spare moments, during which he shared his thoughts about the ways Milwaukee is helping to shape the future of food in the U.S.
OnMilwaukee.com: How did you decide which Milwaukee places to feature for "Appetite for Life"?
Andrew Zimmern: The theme for this year's "Appetite for Life" series is about innovation and partnerships. We're trying to harness the passion of young people for innovation and making change in the world.
Here in Milwaukee, you have what is probably the most traditional food on the planet, other than bread, which is cheese. Cheese is not a new thing in Wisconsin, but to be in the only urban cheese-making facility in the state with young cheese makers, that's a fun thing for us.
Those are the stories and angles that interest me the most. That's where we can demonstrate what kind of change is possible and show people the passion that so many folks have for creating food in America.
OMC: Do you remember your very first trip to Milwaukee?
AZ: Yeah, I was with my dad. It was on a business trip. It was a long time ago. I think I ate at Kopp's.
OMC: In your experience, how do the perceptions of Milwaukee compare to the reality you've found here through your travels and experiences of food?
AZ: You know, everybody shrugs off cities like Milwaukee. I've heard the same thing about St. Paul, where I lived for 17 years before I moved across the river to Minneapolis. Somebody would come there and say, "Wow this is a cool place," and it's like, yeah, we've known that for a long time.
We were driving around the Walker's Point area with some folks today and showing them the "other side" of Milwaukee and I remember coming here, I think the hook got set for me about seven years ago.
I was doing a travel article for Minneapolis/St. Paul, and I sold them on Milwaukee as a destination for Twin-Citians looking to go and have a great weekend. I spent an incredibly cool weekend here. From the Serb dining hall to the Friday night fish fries. From the super cool beer bars where at midnight some great little power rock trio takes the stage, to some of the Mexican restaurants in town.
And seven years ago there weren't half the hipster cool things to do in town. There's been an explosion here, and I said the same thing in a phone call to a friend last night. They were sitting in their apartment in New York and making a joke about Milwaukee. And I said "You know, Milwaukee really is Brooklyn without a lot of the assh*les." And I'm a New Yorker and I'm saying that. Brooklynites have lost Brooklyn ... I mean other people have moved in. But Milwaukee ... I'm really warmed by it.
There are more 100-year-old restaurants operating here in Milwaukee than almost anywhere else I've ever been in the United States. Where else can you eat food in a 100-year-old dining room? It's just an amazing place.
Milwaukee has a lot of character, but more importantly, it has a ton of culture. So, for someone like me who tells stories about culture through food, the appeal of a city like Milwaukee is tremendous. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
INdustri Cafe | Sept. 25, 2012 at 7:43 p.m. (report)
AZ, Thanks again for the visit! See you soon!
"Milwaukee...Brooklyn without a lot of the assh*les" would make an excellent bumpersticker or tourism slogan.
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