The Real Reason Andrew Zimmern Loves Chinese Food So Much

"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live," Confucius wrote. If you've ever watched Andrew Zimmern prepare a meal or introduce his social media followers to an ingredient or dish, you know the celebrity chef does so with great passion and knowledge. The Travel Channel's "Bizarre Food" host speaks about dumplings from Shanghai as "one of life's transformative food experiences," (per He can even make something as basic as Totino's Pizza Rolls into a feast for your palate with a little extra marinara sauce or make us reconsider the condiment which he likes to collect. Zimmern just has a joie de vivre for food.

So when this guy, who has won his fair share of accolades and awards for his cooking prowess, reveals why he loves Chinese food so much, you know there is going to be something truly inspiring and thoughtful behind his reason. And of course, the James Beard Award-winning personality does not disappoint. Zimmern shared with First with Feast that his infatuation with Chinese food began largely because of the cultural exchange between China and the United States in the 1970s that was fostered and blossomed under President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  

Uncle Tai's restaurant 'cemented' Zimmern's love

Andrew Zimmern explained to First We Feast that it was Nixon's foreign policy that allowed so many incredible Chinese chefs to come to America and introduce their gastronomic experience to our nation. It also spurred his infatuation, particularly with the food at Uncle Tai's, which Zimmern says was the first Hunan Szechuan-style restaurant in New York City. "It was like food from Mars. I had no idea food like that existed," Zimmern said. "That restaurant cemented my fascination with Chinese food that exists to this day." Still, Zimmern reflected and expounded further, saying, "I think the seminal influence I have on the food world is this notion of what we can learn about food from other cultures—how we use food as a divining rod to explore those cultures. When I look back at my life, I see the Chinese food revolution as the start of me getting really jazzed about the global possibilities of food."

Of course, it is also his fond appreciation for Chinese food that got Zimmern into hot water. Per Next Shark, Zimmern found himself at the center of controversy in November 2018 when he made a questionable and insensitive comment about Chinese food in the Midwest in a Fast Company interview. Even though Zimmern apologized, his show was still canceled. Alas, that's amore.