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A Not-So-Bizarre Alliance

Andrew Zimmern shared his thoughts with the Babson community this winter.

Andrew Zimmern shared his thoughts with the Babson community this winter.
Photo: Justin Knight

“I’ve wanted to be here for a long time without knowing it,” said Andrew Zimmern, Babson’s recently appointed entrepreneur in residence, when he spoke to a packed audience in the Carling-Sorenson Theater.

For the unfamiliar, Zimmern is all about food, from its history to its modern-day challenges, to the business and pure enjoyment of it. He’s a chef, a writer, and a Web and television personality, perhaps most famously known for co-creating and hosting the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, in which Zimmern travels the world, trying what most would consider strange foods and learning about the people and cultures behind them. For his efforts, he won the prestigious James Beard award, which recognizes the work of food and beverage professionals in North America.

Zimmern came to Babson at the request of The Lewis Institute’s Food Sol, an “action tank” that focuses on innovation in the food industry, with an aim of making it healthier and more sustainable. Although much of what Zimmern does is entertainment, he also views his travels and storytelling as a means of educating himself and, he hopes, the world about different cultures and their needs, whatever they may be. “If you want to change the world, get out into it and help people in ways they need and want,” he says.

Rachel Greenberger, MBA’11, director of Food Sol, sees great synergy between Zimmern and not just Food Sol but the whole Babson community. She calls Zimmern an Entrepreneur of All Kinds. “For many, Bizarre Foods is just about eating ‘shock’ food. But, in fact, Andrew is an intellectual—passionate about policy, history, and culture—and engages in extensive hands-on research and conversation within every community he visits,” she says. “We had a feeling that his powerful storytelling skills, and the unique way he is able to frame living examples of food entrepreneurship from all over the world, would inspire and activate Babson entrepreneurs. We had no idea just how much.”

Since Zimmern’s visit, students and alumni have been sending Greenberger questions and ideas for him. And although his role as an entrepreneur in residence has not been defined completely, he is onboard for Facebook chats, virtual office hours, and directing a MCFE (Management Consulting Field Experience) team. He’s also coming for two days in October to help celebrate the second annual Food Day, which takes place on the 24th. “We’re designing an ‘action tank’ around his visit to tackle specific food-system challenges and innovations of interest to Andrew that are local to New England,” says Greenberger. Expect more details as the event draws nearer.

Coming to Babson, Zimmern says he’s excited by the entrepreneurial spirit and take-action attitude of the community. A self-described man of action himself, he’s ready to harness the energy here and apply it to the food industry. “It’s a gift to rub shoulders with this community,” he said. “My wife had told me, ‘Honey, you will bump into like-minded people who want to affect the world in a positive way the same as you do, so just be patient.’ Here I am.”  —DC