MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “Bizarre Foods” star Andrew Zimmern has taken quite a journey to get to where he is now.

Before he moved to the Twin Cities 20 years ago, Andrew Zimmern lived a much different life.

“I actually had a pretty highly developed food career in New York and L.A., and was operating a group of restaurants with some friends in New York city,” said Zimmern. “It all completely fell apart when my addiction and my alcoholism just when into full-blown life-cratering mode.”

Zimmern says he was addicted to both hard drugs and alcohol, including cocaine, Quaaludes and heroin.

When you look at him today, you’d never guess the star of a hit TV franchise was once homeless in New York City for the better part of a year.

“I really didn’t want to go on with my life, I think the emptiest feeling a human can have is complete failure and feeling hopeless and really legitimately homeless,” he said.

Ready for what he calls “the last attempt to help myself,” Zimmern came to Minnesota.

“Andrew was like a lot of us trying to learn how to live life sober, live life responsibly,” said William Moyers, the vice president of public advocacy at Hazelden.

He was treated at Hazelden using the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

“Part of our treatment regiment is helping the addict or the alcoholic understand that the disease is not their fault, but that treatment recovery is their responsibility,” said Moyers.

It worked. As part of the process at Hazelden, Zimmern was encouraged to find work.

“I started dishwashing and busing tables,” said Zimmern.

Then one day, Zimmern filled in for a chef who had called in sick.

“I think within a month I was the executive chef at the restaurant and had replaced a lot of the staff,” he said. Without the destructive power of drugs and alcohol to get in the way, Andrew’s comeback began.

“The minute I stopped having everything be about me and had everything be about other people and got out of my own way, things started happening in my life, started happening in my life that were the things I’d wanted all the time,” Zimmern says.

Part 1 of Chris Stanford’s 2 Part Story


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