Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern is under fire for for saying that Chinese food in the Midwest is served in “horses–t restaurants.”
Zimmern, a well-known TV chef, travels around the world trying strange food for his show Bizarre Foods. Zimmern also hosts The Zimmern List.
He made the comments during an interview with Fast Company while promoting his new Chinese restaurant chain, Lucky Cricket, which recently opened in a Minneapolis mall.
“I think I’m saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horses - - t restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest,” he said.
Zimmern said he hoped to introduce a “higher form” of Chinese food to people living in the Midwest.
“The full-service Lucky Cricket serves Sichuan, Xi’an, and Hong Kong cuisine,” Zimmern continued. “The goal is to coax the flyover rubes to try a higher form of Chinese food. So what I have to do is I have to introduce them to hot chili oil, and introduce them to a hand-cut noodle, and introduce them to a real roast duck.”
Minnesota restaurateur Edward Fong told the Post that the comments insulted a dedicated customer base that enjoys Midwest Chinese food.
“I think he understands that he didn’t just insult Chinese independent restaurants like ourselves,” Fong said. “but he really insulted people who like to come to our restaurants, which is a lot of people.”
Eve Wu, co-owner of Minnesota-based Korean restaurant Cook St. Paul told the Post that she wholeheartedly supports Chinese-chain restaurants, including popular chain P.F Chang’s.
“I’ll back P.F. Chang’s and their family any day of the week. Asians forever!” Eve Wu told the Post. “If we have to be the generation that is going to be calling out problematic behavior, because in the past it hasn’t been, then I’m going to do it. . . . I will do a 100-year war with him.”
Zimmern was born in New York City, but made his name working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where he lives.
Zimmern later offered an apology for his statement to the Washington Post.
“I let myself get carried away and have too much fun as opposed to realizing that I was working,” he told the Post. “You stop being mindful, and you say something flippant. You’re not being precise with your words.”
The Travel Channel said Zimmern’s show had recently changed time slots, but a rep told TIME that the shift in programming is not connected to the interview.
“Any implication that the move of Andrew Zimmern’s programs to a weekend time slot was tied to his remarks is factually incorrect,” their statement read. “The Zimmern List and Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations are currently airing on Travel Channel on Saturday mornings and Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations is airing in prime time on Cooking Channel on Wednesdays at 10pm. In addition, all of Andrew Zimmern’s series are available on the Travel Channel app.”