Chef and TV Host Andrew Zimmern Says He’s Banked Some of the Best Parts of Himself in Vietnam

“The man I like the most is who I am when I am there.”

Andrew Zimmern shops in a food market Hyderabad, India

Andrew Zimmern shops in Hyderabad, India.

Courtesy of Travel Channel

Revenge travel is out (in fact, it never really felt “in” to us). Instead, this year we’re all about reconnection travel, which is proving to be the top reason for travel postpandemic. After a tough few years, people are going out into the world again with real excitement—and purpose. So we interviewed 11 globe-trotting celebrities to find out what “reconnection” means to them, whether that’s hitting the road solo, feasting through Italy, gallivanting with old friends, paying tribute to loved ones who’ve passed, or making an all-important visit to mom.

Below, Andrew Zimmern—the chef and restaurateur known for his former TV show Bizarre Foods and his current series Family Dinner on Magnolia Network—gets honest about how he reconnects with his best self, and how he hopes to pass that on to his son.

What place is calling you back?

Which place isn’t? I have been around the world and back many times over. When you visit a place, and give freely to others giving to you, when you share and are shared with, you leave with a piece of a place. More importantly, the more you travel, the more you are aware that you leave a piece of yourself behind, and sometimes you need to go back and get it to be whole again.

I have been to Vietnam a half dozen times and have experienced so much joy there that on each returning trip I got more and more immersed in living . . . they say don’t rent a motor bike there, don’t disappear into the back country or mountains alone, don’t eat this or that, don’t don’t don’t. Well, that’s contempt prior to investigation, and my best times were when I did, did, did. And now, 8 YEARS since going there last, I need to go back and retrieve some of the energy and spontaneity that I left there. I banked some of the best parts of myself in that beautiful, wild, hot, shape-shifting place I love. I miss it, but more importantly I realize I need it. The man I like the most is who I am when I am there.

What place feels like home, even if it’s not where you’re from?

Sicily, Sardinia, and for that matter, any of the Italian isles. There is a pace of life—maybe it’s the walking? The food? Or perhaps it’s the kindness of the people who are always looking out to see if they made a mistake in trusting you until they burst and give all of themselves to you because they are so proud of where they live. And the water. Angry and windblown, gray in winter. Blue and tranquil, inviting and soft in summer. The sun on my skin reminds me of my childhood.

Are you planning trips to reconnect? If so, how?

I want to take my son to these places, and I am planning on it. I hope he wants to go as much as I want to take him. I’d like to rent a house for a few weeks, let him see what it’s like. My father did that with me and I haven’t been able to do that with my own son yet.

Andrew Zimmern, chef, restaurateur, and travel TV host

Read more from our Reconnection Travel series.

Kaitlin Menza is a Taipei-based writer who covers lifestyle, politics, pop culture, and social issues. You can find her work at
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