Lotus Culinary Travel Hosts Andrew Zimmern for ‘Bizarre Foods’ Chengdu
Simply put, the food in Chengdu belongs at the top of the culinary charts, rivaling the world’s greatest food capitals. Move over Paris and New York, Chengdu has arrived!
So says Andrew Zimmern in his Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods; the Chengdu episode debuted in the States in spring 2011 and has since aired (and re-aired) in more than 70 countries. Even globetrotting experts such as Andrew need in-the-know locals to help them find the best a place has to offer, and Lotus Culinary Travel was thrilled to host him, as well as several other culinary stars, over the years.
At first I was a little worried that Zimmern would present Chengdu’s food as bizarre and only bizarre, and his production folks did ask us to find weird, gross-out foods. But they were also open to seeing the best that Chengdu has to offer, and in the end I believe they struck a pretty good balance. He definitely overplayed the heat quotient in Chengdu dishes, since the great majority of Sichuan food is not “blow-your-head-off” hot. But he gave the cuisine the props it deserves. And he was a pleasure to work with.
Lotus Culinary’s Rose arranged for Andrew to take a tour of the largest, and one of the oldest, chili bean paste factories in Pixian, and introduced him to Sichuan street snacks as well as Chengdu haute cuisine. As for “bizarre,” she led him to roasted rabbit heads, pig brains with doufu and the “holy grail of hot-food lovers.” Finally the new friends enjoyed a 32-course meal at Yu’s Family Kitchen, which Andrew calls “one of the greatest restaurants in all of China, the meal a brilliant journey—every course a stop on the tour of Chef Yu’s favorite farms and ingredients.”
This gives me the perfect chance to brag on my brilliant colleagues, Rose Nickel and Tom He, Sichuan natives who led Lotus Culinary’s food tours from 2008 to 2016 with enormous dedication and grace.