Mediaplanet: Why is hunger relief a passion of yours?

Andrew Zimmern: I was homeless for 13 months in the early 80’s. I lived in an abandoned building in the Lower East Side of NYC. I have been hungry. I have eaten in shelters. I have begged for a handout. This is personal. On a more civic level, eating well in America is a class privilege. That’s wrong. We live in the greatest nation in the history of the world and at no time in that history has so much been available for relatively few and so little for so many than right now. The social change movement required to correct all that is a lengthy process without guarantee of success — that paradigm requires reinvention. I would want the world of food as I experience it — one of choice and quality and bountifulness — to be there for all.

HUNGER IS HUNGER: Andrew Zimmern uses his passion for cooking and his celebrity status to help raise awareness about food insecurity.

MP: What is one step readers can take to help in the fight against hunger?

AZ: Engage with a local partner today. What if every week you gave an hour of time, or donated a box of food, or one can, or wrote one letter on behalf of an organization or gave $1? What if that was the same organization every week? The effect would be profound. We need to waste less, give more and destroy the stigma of hunger. It’s going to take all of us pulling every week, somewhere.

MP: You’ve traveled to some of the most obscure areas of the world. How does hunger abroad compare to hunger in the U.S.? What differences and similarities have you noticed?

AZ: Hunger is hunger. We can maintain the mythology that second and third world countries can feed themselves because they are closer to agrarian roots than we are, but the reality in much of that world is about distribution. Some hunger insecurity issues in many places revolve around political systems, changing weather patterns, urban joblessness and poverty, as young people flood cities looking for a way of life because the pastoral or agrarian subsistence patterns are changing.

MP: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a celebrity chef?

AZ: Being able to utilize a large platform to make a difference and pay back the world that gave me a second, third and fourth chance when I didn’t deserve one. Being able to provide for my family. Hearing a mom in a supermarket tell me that a recipe of mine is her family’s favorite. Usually the little stuff.

Montauk Scallop and Oyster Pan Roast

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 slice of bacon, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced

  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced

  • 1 thyme sprig

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

  • 1 quart freshly shucked oysters, drained and 1 1/2 cups of liquor reserved (see note)

  • 1 cup fish stock or clam broth, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/2 pound sea scallops

  • Salt

  • 1 quart heavy cream

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Snipped chives for garnish

  • Buttered baguette toasts or oyster crackers for serving

Instructions

In a large pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until softened, about 1 minute. Add the celery, onion, thyme, paprika and Old Bay and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the oyster liquor and fish stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for about 10 minutes, until reduced by one-fourth.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt the butter. Season the scallops with salt and cook over high heat until well browned on one side (about 2 minutes); immediately transfer to a plate.

Stir the heavy cream into the pot and simmer until slightly thickened (about 3 minutes). Add the oysters and bring just to a simmer. Add the scallops and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, stir in the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Discard the thyme sprig. Spoon the stew into bowls, garnish with chives and serve immediately with the toasts or crackers.