Andrew Zimmern's Hilarious Story About Being 'Discovered' For TV

We all know and love Andrew Zimmern for his strangely hypnotic Travel Channel show "Bizarre Foods." Regardless of how disgusting the food sounds or appears — horse rectum; hárkal, also known as fermented sleeper shark; cow placenta — we can't look away. Maybe it's just to see if he will become ill, knowing full well if it were us, we would. But despite some of his questionable food choices, the renaissance chef and restaurateur has done an exceptional job when it comes to educating us about places around the world and breaking bread with other cultures. 

But where did the magic begin? Zimmern told the blog Diced it was rooted in "The love of travel, the obsession with seeking out what was really meaningful to a culture. The things that we have in common versus the things that differentiate us, all of that was really set in motion back then." While that may have been the catalyst for Zimmern's culinary passion, the story of how he was discovered for what ultimately led to his big break in television is more of the side-splitting nature. In a video (posted on YouTube) in which Zimmern is "paying homage" and making his case in a very Machiavellian manner to be invited on the show "Hot Ones," he shares the story of his television discovery. 

His agent knew he'd be a star

Zimmern reveals in the video that during those early days of HGTV, he was being interviewed to work on "TIPical Mary Ellen." This was a home tipster show, half-hour in length, and was about home tips like how to polish the silver. But the James Beard Award-winning chef goes on to share that when they branched into cooking they came to him to be their food guy. Zimmern was very animated as he explained how the local Minnesota producer set up an interview with him. 

Of course, this was 20 years ago, so it was back in the day before the tech age. The producer, apparently, had an old red rotary phone with the kind of big clear button that lit up when you were on a call. Zimmern was waiting outside the office, because the producer was on this phone. However, he motioned Zimmern to come in and Zimmern heard him say as he sat down, "Murray, I gotta get off right now. The biggest new star in food television just walked in my door," before hanging up the phone — where none of the lights were lit indicating he was on a call. Zimmern hilariously shares that this was before the producer told Zimmern he would be getting $50 bucks an episode and that it was going to "make him."

As Zimmern points out, the producer was right. The show was his springboard to his next big opportunity.