While he was in town last week filming Bizarre Foods America, Andrew Zimmern snuck away from his security detail long enough to converse, securely, with Gut Check about his time in St. Louis.
"St. Louis has been around now for two years on our idea board," says Zimmern of the process of creating an episode based in our back yard.
"We did some light diving on the research side of things and found a ton. When you find great stories and great characters, then you can tell a really great story about a city or a region. St. Louis all of a sudden became, 'Oh my gosh, this is going to be great!'"
Zimmern's enthusiasm about Midwestern food never wavered throughout his visit. He ate at a number of St. Louis restaurants including Gioia's Deli, Schottzie's Bar & Grill, Farmhaus, Smoki O's and Grbic.
He and his team also hit up Soulard Farmers Market and had a chat with four-time James Beard award finalist Gerard Craft of Niche, Taste, Pastaria and Brasserie by Niche. Outside the city, Zimmern went fishing for invasive carp on the Mississippi and made it to the opening of spoonbill season at the Lake of the Ozarks.
He was particularly taken with the pig snoots at Smoki O's and encouraged anyone within earshot to go get some posthaste. Of course, that wasn't the only weird meat he enjoyed in Missouri. He chowed down on pig ears and a duck-heart pastrami Reuben at Farmhaus before effusing about spoonbill caviar (which sounds much tastier than it looks in Zimmern's Instagram photo of a fileted spoonbill).
And of course, he couldn't leave without trying a brain sandwich.
When asked if St. Louis seemed to be lacking anything in the food department, Zimmern gushed about how much great food he's eaten so far in the city. He also touched upon the unique neighborhoods and communities spread across the city.
"What makes St. Louis unique is that sense of community," Zimmern says. "Outside of St. Louis people are obsessed with north side/south side, and that really doesn't exist here. I think it's a city of communities and neighborhoods that are diverse and different, and that's what St. Louis should be celebrating. And it is. And that's why people should come here."