Lifestyle & Human Interest

Chef & TV Personality Andrew Zimmern Went from Being Homeless to Celebrating 28 Years of Sobriety


Andrew Zimmern is a well-known chef famous for his adventurous spirit and willingness to try eating foods that few others would dare to even look at.

“A four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and teacher, Andrew Zimmern ( is regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world,” his Facebook page reads.

“As the creator, executive producer and host of the Bizarre Foods franchise on Travel Channel, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food and The Zimmern List, he has explored culture through food in more than 170 countries.”

He’s thriving now, but many wouldn’t recognize the man he was three decades ago. He wasn’t always an approachable person, and he’d made some decisions in his life that drew him into a downward spiral.

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“I was the guy you crossed the street to avoid if you walked by me in New York,” he said according to ABC News.

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“You’re living the life where you are constantly beat up, abused, abusing other people, doing something horrifically shameful, and tawdry things that crater your soul,” he added. “You give away pieces of yourself that you swear you would never do.”

The drugs and drinks took their toll on him, even prompting him to steal a friend’s wallet and making him homeless, according to “Today.”

Finally, in 1982, friends convinced him to go to the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota, and that was the start of a turning point for him.

Since then, sober and living a life full of travel and adventure, Zimmern has made it a priority to reflect on his experiences and share his past — even the darker parts — with fans and followers.

“Throwaway your life throwback Thursday pic #tbt … 1982 or so, deranged drunk and drugged,” he shared on Instagram on Nov. 30, 2017, featuring a photo of a younger Zimmern holding up a glass of wine and smiling. “I was a dangerous mess and still took almost a decade to sober up. #keepitgreen #odat #grateful”

“I don’t think I ever posted a pic like this before,” he added. “The smile on the outside is a mask. The pain inside was unimaginable and indescribable. Thankfully I don’t feel that way or live that way anymore.”

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The photo cropped up again on Jan. 28, because it marked a very important milestone for the now-famous chef.

“Today I’m 28 years sober on the 28th,” he wrote, again alongside the notorious photo. “A golden date. I’m grateful and very overwhelmed. Every anniversary I wonder ‘why me’? Why me when so many others end up in jails, institutions or die from this illness.”

“Well, I did jails/institutions and I wanted to die at the end, but the universe had different plans for me. I can’t ever begin to repay the debt I owe to others. You all know you are, but especially @amackmn @jimlynden who have held me for the whole ride. Thanks to @kevinboehmboka and @donniemadia for giving me a rare copy of my favorite book, to @chefkalt for keeping a light in the window 30 years ago, to BB my first sponsor who told me showing up high and drunk to meetings wasn’t going to help, to Bert, Jim, and Carty, my first roommates to all my sponsees new and old, and the fellow travelers on the road to happy destiny.”

“To those struggling with this disease, I wasted years not asking for help from people who cared about me. Once I did, that simple act changed my life.”

“Baudelaire said drunkenness was ‘the great imperative, in order not to feel, times horrid fardel, bruise your shoulders, grinding you into the earth.’ I hear ya’ Chuck … but there IS a solution.”

Instead of letting his time with addiction haunt him, he actively uses it to keep himself on the straight and narrow and make better decisions.

“Any decision that I make, anything that I do, every single consideration of my day goes through the prism of what my former experience has been,” he told ABC.

“I have a life based on completely different principles now, and I try to stick with those. I think it has been the secret to my success.”

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