Andrew Zimmern's Bold Takes On Fast Food Chicken - Exclusive

Andrew Zimmern is arguably one of the most well-traveled eaters on earth. He's dined on everything from durian to palolo, or Samoan coral worms. But take a look at his latest social media posts, and you'll see he's expanding his palette to include some uniquely American favorites. Recently, the star sampled everyone's favorite frozen dairy dessert, the Frosty, for the very first time. "Well, I love food — and I'm not a food snob — but I was kind of surprised at how great the Frosty was. I thought the burger was like, eh," he tells Tasting Table. (Urged by his Instagram followers to reconsider his review, he gamely tried the fast food giant's burger a second time with more favorable results.) 

Indeed, his reputation for trying just about anything is solidly established. Still, you may be surprised to learn that Zimmern's yet to delve into a cuisine that comes as second nature to many Westerners. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, he unleashed a whopper of a secret: "I don't have a lot of experience in traditional fast food places. I'm scared." He admits he's dipped into a few popular fast-food restaurants — and he's already developing some strong feelings. "I'm in love with Culver's. My friends have told me, 'You love Culver's so much, you will not like other fast food places,' because Culver's cooks everything to order. But I'm going to give some of these things a shot." The chef's already earning his wings, and his opinions on fast-food chicken may ruffle some feathers.

Andrew Zimmern raises his glass to this chicken eatery

Any Food Network fan can tell you that chicken is one of Andrew Zimmern's favorite mains. "My sticky, spicy chicken wings are the best wings there are," he tells Tasting Table. He loves making crunchy Japanese fried chicken alongside his homemade yuzu-chile sauce. And for years, Zimmern and his family have visited Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, Florida — where he says fried chicken was once a secret menu item. His go-to order at Joe's when he touches down on the South Beach sands? "As much fried chicken and stone crabs as I can stuff into my face," he explains.

But Zimmern's not afraid to explore what chain restaurants have to offer, either. And of the limited encounters he's had with fast food establishments, one plucky Southern chain sticks out above the rest. "I have eaten at Raising Cane's — which people classify as fast food, right?" says the chef. "But all they do is serve chicken tenders ... [and] they do them really well. I like Cane's, and people tell me that's fast food." Most everyone can agree that Raising Cane's counts as fast food, though we might have to draw the line at his next spicy take.

The chef still hasn't tried fast food's golden child

We may as well warn you now: Andrew Zimmern's next revelation is harder to digest than a 6-piece with no sauce. "So I've eaten [at Raising Cane's,] but I've never eaten a chicken McNugget. I'm scared," he says. That's your cue to exhale — though you'll be relieved to know that he's at least held one in his hands. "I've seen them, and I've broken one open." We're not sure if cradling (or dissecting) a McNugget counts for much, but Zimmern maintains he'd willingly eat one in the future. 

When asked what fast food menu item he'd like to try conquering the Frosty, he quickly suggested McDonald's golden star — er, boot. "I mean, let's go with the chicken McNugget," the chef told Tasting Table. At the time of writing, he's yet to explore this deep-fried fantasy, but we're keeping the faith that it could happen soon. Until then, you can follow Zimmern's Instagram to see when he tries his first McNugget. Just don't tell him he missed out on McDonald's Szechuan sauce

For more of Andrew Zimmern's exploits, find him at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival from February 22-25.