Exotic Chef Dishes Tikkun Olam, Addiction and Southern Cuisine

Exotic Chef Dishes Tikkun Olam, Addiction and Southern Cuisine

“AZ and the Lost City of Ophir” by Andrew Zimmern is a tale of ancient mystery, global adventure, mischief, fun and food. 

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern has written a book, “AZ and the Lost City of Ophir.”
Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern has written a book, “AZ and the Lost City of Ophir.”

A James Beard Award-winner, culinary expert and star of “Bizarre Foods” (Travel Channel), Andrew Zimmern shares his boundless appetite for global adventure and intrepid eating in his new children’s book. “AZ and the Lost City of Ophir” is a tale of ancient mystery, global adventure, mischief, fun and food.

Twelve-year-old AZ dreams of becoming the world’s greatest explorer, but instead, he’s stuck in summer school with odd Uncle Arthur for company. Little does he know that the summer will be a thrilling and dangerous adventure.  After a time-traveling mishap, AZ finds himself in Ophir, a lost city full of wonder and secrets.

Zimmern, who was part of Atlanta’s big ticket Superbowl’s Taste of the NFL, will greet fans Feb. 11 at Barnes & Noble in Buckhead, where he will discuss and sign his book.

Jaffe: You have a son … is that what motivated you to write a children’s book?

Zimmern: Actually yes, reading stories to him at night and most importantly making up stories for him, I realized I had a lot to say in that space and thought that there was a missing niche: fun books where kids can experience adventure learning in the 8- to 12-year-old space as an interesting genre. As a youth, my father would take me on long drives skiing in Vermont. We didn’t have radio stations that carried that far, so he would tell me “made up” stories. I’ve always wanted to tell stories to young people.

Jaffe: “Ophir” sounds scary with crocodiles and tombs. To what age is it targeted?

Zimmern: “Ophir” is a little scary. It should be; I think that’s what is compelling and exciting about travel. A little bit of fear is healthy, and I want young people to come away with the sense that just because something is a little scary doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability to walk through that fear and make some change in the world. Fear is healthy, and I think as human beings we make appropriate fear-based decisions. I want to show kids that they can make appropriate decisions, even when things are a little dicey.

Jaffe: How does Judaism play a role?

Zimmern: I work with Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry and firmly believe we need to make a difference. If I’m writing a kids’ book, why not choose my favorite charity that solves children’s hunger issues? My Jewishness is evident in doing good works, a respect for others and their cultures, in an abiding love for family, in ways to approach relationships with a higher power of my understanding – all of which are in my work.

Jaffe: I recently interviewed Michael Solomonov (award winning Israeli chef) about his addiction. Is a connection to renowned chefs an addiction?

Zimmern: I think about the Michael Solomonov issue, that there is a connection to chefs and addiction. If they can get past addiction and into recovery – that’s the key component. My addiction and subsequent recovery have influenced every single facet and decision in my life. I’ve used the skills I’ve learned in recovery in my own quest for personal wellness.

Jaffe: Were you acquainted with Anthony Bourdain? Were you surprised by his death?

Zimmern: I was very shocked by his death and it changed me in the sense that I have been a lot more aggressive with friends making sure that people are OK. It spurred me – seeing so many rightfully distraught by this – to make sure that people are aware that they need to have personal wellness formats that they actively pursue in their own life so that when surprising calamities hit, they’re able to match them with a form of serenity.

Jaffe: Have you ever been to Atlanta before? Observations of the deep south?

Zimmern: I have been to Atlanta dozens of times. I love the South and think that your food is “America’s cuisine” … with a sense of bounty, hospitality, seasonality, simplicity, the storytelling, the influences of both enslaved Africans, Caribe Indians, the colonial experience – most notably the Spanish have influences. I find it an exciting and vibrant culture.

Jaffe: What is the takeaway from your book?

Zimmern: That kids can rely on each other. They’re smart enough; they come with enough intelligence baked into their DNA to solve more problems than they think they’re capable of. Kids can be responsible for their own outcomes. I think they deserve to be heard. They have opinions that matter. I also want kids to be inspired by that sense of “adventure learning.” They should travel, be independent thinkers and have independent experiences so they can formulate viewpoints and ways of tackling life – independent of adult influence.

Zimmern will be signing his book at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Barnes & Noble, 2900 Peachtree Road in Buckhead. The book is available on Amazon and www.Andrewzimmern.com.

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