Andrew Zimmern causes controversy with his comments on Chinese chefs in the Midwest

He just opened his new St. Louis Park restaurant, Lucky Cricket.
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Andrew Zimmern is attracting unwanted headlines in the wake of opening his new Chinese-inspired restaurant, the Lucky Cricket, in St. Louis Park.

The Minnesota-based celebrity chef has stoked controversy for comments he made in a video interview with Fast Company, which was filmed at the State Fair but published last week (you can watch it at the bottom of this page).

In the video, Zimmern said that his plan with the Lucky Cricket is to start a new Chinese restaurant chain, saying: "I think I’m saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horses--t restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest."

"I'm now trying to use my platform to show people what beautiful big flavors are from that culture," he added.

The comment attracted criticism from The Eater, which said Zimmern is suggesting that Chinese-American restaurants in the Midwest are "illegitimate," as well as ignoring the culinary contributions of Minnesota's Hmong community.

Zimmern was also critical of P.F Chang's and its co-founder Philip Chiang, calling the chain a "rip-off" and of Chiang said: "...despite how he looks on the outside, he’s a rich, American kid on the inside, right?"

The Washington Post also jumped to criticize Zimmern, with Illinois-raised Chinese-American write Ruth Tam pointing out that Zimmern is arguably guilty of what he himself is criticizing.

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"He too is trying to make money in America, except he has the noble cause of 'saving' white people from eating bad Chinese food," Tam writes. "When Chinese people make Americanized Chinese food for white people, Zimmern calls it “horses---.” But when he does it, it’s 'unique.'"

Zimmern responded to criticisms he's being culturally insensitive in a post on his Facebook page Monday, admitting he sounded patronizing and saying: "I am completely responsible for what I said and I want to apologize to anyone who was offended or hurt by those sound bites."

He said the criticism from the Chinese-American community was "reasonable, legitimate and understandable" and he expressed regret at causing it.

Lucky Cricket opened to diners in St. Louis Park's West End last week.

Here's his interview with Fast Company.

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