Twin Cities-based chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern has a new food show coming to an unlikely place, the news and politics channel MSNBC.
“What’s Eating America” premieres Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. CT, and will air Sundays through March 15.
From Zimmern's Minnesota-based production company Intuitive Content, the five-episode series follows Zimmern around the country during the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, as he talks to voters about social and political issues via the subject of food.
Shows will cover immigration, climate change, addiction, voting rights and healthcare, and the impact those issues have on what America eats.
"Food touches everything we do in our lives," Zimmern told the Star Tribune. "We look through it, as a lens to other cultures."
Instead of titillating viewers with the unusual bites he'd sample on the "Bizarre Foods" series for which he's famous, "What's Eating America" positions him as a "correspondent," he said, "out on the road in search of answers to the questions everyone is asking."
MSNBC, Zimmern said, "has shown real vision in creating space for a program that represents a different way to tell stories about civics and politics."
The first episode will look at U.S. immigration policy, and how migrant and immigrant labor are used in the food industry. For that two-hour episode, Zimmern is joined by chef and humanitarian José Andrés.
Future episodes have Zimmern traveling to Lake Michigan and New Jersey to examine climate change's impact on fishing and farming; to southern battleground states to meet with voting rights activists; and to the heartland to explore the relationship between food and health. On the March 1 episode, Zimmern will offer his own story as an addict to look at addiction in the restaurant industry.
Now is the time for a politically minded food show, he said, calling the 2020 election cycle "the most important of my lifetime."
Zimmern is a proprietor of Lucky Cricket, a Chinese restaurant and tiki bar in St. Louis Park. (He came under fire for remarks he made in 2018 about the quality of Chinese food in the United States that he later admitted were "arrogant and patronizing.") The James Beard Award-winner plans to turn the restaurant into a national chain.