Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Andrew Zimmern's Dark Past

Andrew Zimmern is not your typical successful Travel channel host. Before "Bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmern", he lived on street stealing purses in order to maintain his drug and alcohol addiction.

Early Life:
Andrew Zimmern was born into a privileged home in New York, 1961. He began his culinary training at 14 and graduated from Vassar College. Life could have been easy, but he decided to take the road less traveled.

He was first exposed to drugs in his second year of high school. It started innocent like most, dabbling in alcohol and marijuana. Once he graduated high school, he was poppin' pills and doing cocaine everyday. Then once college started, he decided to step up his game. As a freshman, he found his true love. Heroine. Even addicted to drugs, he had a more successful college life than most sober people. Taking a year off here and there to travel and cook in Europe, Hong Kong, and even spending a summer working for Gloria Vanderbilt. By the time he graduated in 1983 (age 23), he was well connected and was immediately inducted into the food business.

Rock Bottom:
Though he fooled many for a while, his addiction got the best of him and he became totally unemployable. In 1991, he was homeless and alone.
I lived in an abandoned building in lower Manhattan; one that we squatted – a bottle gang and I. I would steal purses off the backs of chairs in those swanky little cafes on Madison Avenue, run down the side street, leap the wall at Central Park and 5th Avenue, get on the subway, go down to the lower east side and sell the credit cards and passports that were in the purses for money to support my drug and alcohol habit. And then go to sleep at night on a pile of dirty clothes in this abandoned building and I sprinkled a bottle of Comet Cleanser around so the rats and roaches wouldn't cross over at night so I could pass out in some peace and quiet and that's what I thought was normal. That's how I lived for a year – no showering, I was the guy you crossed the street to avoid if you walked by me in New York. [via]
Turn around moment:
Zimmern's life sucked and he contemplated suicide. He came into some money, checked into a cheap hotel, bought plastic bottles of Popov vodka, and starting drinking hoping that one day he wouldn't wake up anymore. Since death by vodka didn't work, after a couple weeks he had an epiphany to get help.

Back on track:
In 1992, he checked into Hazeldon with the help of some friends and sobered up. By May he jumped back into the food business as a busboy in café un deux trois in the Foshay Tower and before you know it he climbed the ranks and became one of the most celebrated chefs. At 51, he came up with the idea for "Bizarre Foods" and the rest is history.

 He has been sober for about 20 years now.


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