The Real Reason Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods Was Canceled

For over a dozen years, Andrew Zimmern's show Bizarre Foods took viewers on a weekly journey outside their culinary comfort zones.  The chef and writer, who co-created the show for the Travel Channel, traveled the world in search of the most exotic things that people eat. A curious and enthusiastic eater, Zimmern gladly tucked into tarantulas in Cambodia and fermented skate in Korea. While the foods might have been "bizarre" to many people watching, the host was quick to note that in other parts of the world, these items were a family dinner. 

Zimmern was on a mission to share different cultures and appetites with the world, using his signature slogan,  "If it looks good, eat it." Then in December 2018, the show was taken off of Travel Channel's prime time roster, and parent company Discovery, Inc. moved it to a less-viewed Saturday morning viewing time, according to Page Six

A controversy brews

The sudden change in Bizarre Foods' programming came with speculation that Discovery was reacting to a controversial video filmed for Fast Company, in which Zimmern discusses opening a chain of Chinese restaurants throughout the Midwest. While talking about the concept called Lucky Cricket, he said, "I'm saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horses*** restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest."

Zimmern's comments received immediate backlash. Writer Ruth Tam wrote in the The Washington Post that the chef, "Is trying to make money in America, except 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***.' But when he does it, it's 'unique.'"

According to Eater, the flagship Lucky Cricket restaurant closed in July 2019 for renovations; Minnesota Monthly reported that it reopened in September 2019. Additionally, Zimmern issued an apology for the interview on his Facebook page. "I am completely responsible for what I said and I want to apologize to anyone who was offended or hurt by those sound bites. Food should be for everyone, and yet culturally there is a terrible and centuries old history of white people profiting off of other cultures, in food, music, and elsewhere."

Though many thought that Zimmern's controversial interview was the cause of Discovery's decision to relegate Bizarre Foods to a less desirable time slot, that wasn't the case at all. 

Ghosts vs. food

The Daily Mail reported the schedule change was made because Zimmern shared, "racial and culturally insensitive remarks where he asserted that Midwest Chinese food was 'horses**t." Discovery, however had a more "supernatural" reason for making the change: The Washington Post reported that Bizarre Foods and its spinoff, Bizarre Foods America, were cancelled when Discovery, "shifted its programming to focus on ghosts, monsters and the paranormal." 

Classic episodes of Bizarre Foods can still be found on Travel Channel's website, which makes the case that the shows no longer fits into Discovery's lineup of shows. Meanwhile, Andrew Zimmern's career continues to flourish, despite the cancellation of Bizarre Foods. In early 2020, the chef hosted a series on MSNBC called, What's Eating America, which tackled subjects such as immigration, climate change, addiction, voter suppression, and healthcare. Additionally, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Zimmern hosted cooking tutorials on Instagram, sporting a beard and entertaining viewers while teaching valuable skills on his AZ Cooks Live cooking segments, which he films in his home kitchen.