Andrew Zimmern, the James Beard-winning culinary kamikaze who eats everything from bull testicles in Chile to ants in Uganda, keeps it domestic in “Bizarre Foods America,” which starts Mon., Jan. 23, with a Twin Cities bow fishing expedition for carp. The host’s journeys this season will take him from Austin to Boston, and eventually Los Angeles, where he just finished taping an episode earlier this month.
While in town Zimmern visited West Hollywood’s artisanal butcher shop Lindy & Grundy, downtown L.A. seafood sanctum International Marine Products (“Without it being there,” he says, “the city’s entire sushi scene wouldn’t be the same”) and Michael Voltaggio’s gastro-conceptual playground, Ink. The centerpiece of his trip -- and the eventual episode, which is slated to air sometime this summer -- was a five-course pop-up dinner he mounted at avant-garde Culver City café-cum-gallery Royal/T on Fri., Jan. 13. He served a typically Zimmernesque multi-courser of dishes like veal tongue tartare and crispy goat chunchules (aka intestines).
So where does the ultimate gastro guide look for his own L.A. dining recommendations? “Lee Hefter, the chef at Spago, has been a friend of mine for 2,000 years,” says Zimmern. “He knows everything, from the hot new chef who’s opened a restaurant tucked away in the middle of nowhere to the Oaxacan taco truck that’s just launched.”
“Also, Ben Ford [son of Harrison Ford, and chef/owner at Ford’s Filling Station], who made the ice cream for my pop-up. Oh, and also some of my buddies in the entertainment industry -- including my agent, Eric Rovner of WME, who’s a huge repository of foodie information. He’s always taking me to Cuban soup restaurants that are, like, two hours outside of L.A.”