Andrew Zimmern: Stop Putting Food and Chefs on a Pedestal, America

There is a reason that we keep tuning in to Andrew Zimmern’s podcast Go Fork Yourself (and not just for Sriracha feuds or celeb chef spotting etiquette). If anything, Zimmern and his sidekick Molly Mogren continue to be our voices of reason, and nothing quite illuminates their sanity than the latest episode of Go Fork Yourself.

Zimmern and Mogren take on “egotarian cuisine,” Alan Richman’s new term to define the craziness that are chefs today. The whole thing is worth a listen (Zimmern also takes a heartfelt moment to talk about the passing of his stepfather last week, which we have the utmost sympathy for), but about halfway through Zimmern takes on the whole craziness of celebrity chefs.

At no time in the history of the world, in this culture has one group of people — Americans — so fetishized and worshipped food. And not only have we put certain food on a pedestal, and certain chefs on a pedestal, and certain food talents on a pedestal, we’ve done it to such a degree with so many people that don’t deserve that phrase by any measure, that it’s a little uncomfortable for folks. Look: just because someone can forage some wild moss somewhere — and I’m not taking a shot at [Rene] Redzepi or any of those guys … Just because you can put some sort of like crazy goofy sea snail on your menu doesn’t mean it’s good, or should be cooked or or that you’re doing it the right way.

… If you mix inability to put something on a plate with a lot of show and pretension and other fireworks, snooty Maitre D’s, snooty wine list, glitz and glamour restaurants — there are some really fancy places around the country that are not pleasant to dine in, and the expectation is that you’re supposed to love them. And that’s why even the role of the critic is so important.

Zimmern and Mogren also take on speakeasy, hard-to-find restaurants, cold and indifferent hostesses, incredible surprises at Next, “house made” salami, bad crude, inexperienced wunderkid chefs (“no amount of stages at Michelin-starred restaurants will teach you how to be a good leader of people,” says Zimmern) and mayonnaise. God, we love these people.

[Go Fork Yourself]

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