Foodies know Andrew Zimmern as the host of Bizarre Foods, the Travel Channel franchise in which he explores eye-opening delicacies from around the world. But with the Magnolia Network show Family Dinner, Andrew is going from food stalls and restaurants to home kitchens and dining rooms.
Now two seasons in, Family Dinner follows Andrew as he “visits families across America to explore how the cultural, regional, and historical facets of who we are inform what and how we eat,” Magnolia explains.
In a recent interview with Mashed, Andrew explained the show’s smaller focus: “When someone says do a food and travel show, you oftentimes have the grand gesture, right? But the smallest thing, let’s just go to towns around America and eat with families — we see incredible food. We see real-life stories that are the best ones that everyone can connect to … There’s also a very large thread of seriousness woven through this, where we hear the family stories and why they insist on gathering.”
‘Family Dinner’ was inspired by Andrew Zimmern’s life and his push for human connection.
Andrew told Mashed that Family Dinner was inspired by his life. “I began as a young man that had family members taken from him and went from having a very big family to being very alone in the world,” he said.
Because of that loss, and because of the same drive for “preaching patience, tolerance, and understanding” that inspired to Bizarre Foods, Andrew “wanted to put a family meal in every episode of every show I ever made,” he said.
Eighteen years later, Magnolia Network execs approached him about making a new show. “They said, ‘Do you have any ideas?’ And I immediately just blurted out, ‘Family dinner,’” he recalled.
Andrew also new Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Fixer Upper couple at the head of Magnolia Network, and said that he agreed to host the show when they asked. “And it has been such a rewarding experience,” he added. “It’s such a beautifully simple show. The simple ideas are often the best.”
He says ‘Family Dinner’ is “one of the best TV shows” he has ever made.
Talking to Parade last year, Andrew explained how Family Table matches his raison d’être, saying, “I think that in a world that is increasingly polarized, that, you know, defines itself by our differences; in a world where we need more patience, tolerance, and understanding, where is the best place to learn that? Where is the best place to celebrate the human story? Where is the best place to eat food? It’s at the family dinner table.”
He went on: “So, to hear from families themselves what their stories are, what the food is, what their traditions and their own cultures and their own family histories are, their own geographical locations, but most importantly why they feel the need to gather is something that is entertaining and funny and emotional, and we all are able to learn a little something, and it’s not too earnest, and it’s not saccharine. I think it’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever made.”