Travel Channel has cut celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern from its prime time line up while scathing reviews flood in for his new Minnesota-based “Lucky Cricket” restaurant.
Zimmern was rebuked by fellow foodies in early December for making culturally insensitive comments about Midwestern Chinese restaurants, which he called “hores— restaurants masquerading as Chinese food.”
The remarks came in an interview with Fast Company about the launch of his “Lucky Cricket” business venture, which opened its first location in St. Louis Park this month. Battleground State News reported in December that Zimmern is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, whom he has called “the personification of ignorance,” “hate fueled,” and “anti-immigrant.”
He also said of Ann Coulter that her “head is stuck so far up [her] ass I’m afraid there isn’t a surgeon on earth that can help” her.
Page Six now reports that Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” and “The Zimmern List” programs on the Travel Channel have been bumped from prime time to a rotation slot on Saturday mornings. Sources told the publication that filming has stopped mid-season for both shows, and isn’t expected to pick back up.
“The shows, along with other food content on Travel, will no longer air on prime time, but on Saturday mornings in rotation. This decision came before Andrew’s comments were made,” a Travel Channel spokesperson told Page Six.
His new restaurant is also facing bad reviews from local food critics. Eater’s Soleil Ho published a review titled “Lucky Cricket’s Bad Taste,” writing that the restaurant’s “Tiki aesthetic” gave her the sense that she was “in a Disney-fied vision of the East.”
“Considering all of the bombast surrounding this opening, I at least expected the food to be decent, to be forced to admit that, yes, it was at least better than PF Chang’s, or even better than the Leeann Chin—Minnesota’s own Chinese-American chain—across the street. Yet the short menu felt incredibly watered down, and there was something fundamentally off about the execution of the majority of the items my group tried,” Ho writes.
She also criticizes the restaurant’s merchandise, which contain slogans “awkwardly machine-translated into Chinese characters.”
“Regardless of any complaints one might have about the rest of the restaurant’s authenticity, at least we know the mugs were manufactured in China,” she continues. “And say what you will about Panda Express, but at least the fried rice is seasoned there.”
In The Growler, James Norton wrote a review called the “Unlucky Cricket,” saying Zimmern’s new project is “a cautionary tale for building a restaurant on a foundation of contradictions.” His review concludes by stating that “Lucky Cricket’s soul is being tugged in multiple directions with great force.”
The Washington Post ran a piece focusing solely on one of Lucky Cricket’s signatures dishes, Peter Chang’s Dry Fried Eggplant, an homage to Chang who taught Zimmern how to cook the item. According to The Post, Chang’s business partner has received numerous complaints about the dish because it “wasn’t prepared to Chang’s standards.”
“The dish was soggy. It had no flavor. It wasn’t spicy. Lee [Chang’s partner] was taken aback,” The Post reports.
On Yelp, Lucky Cricket currently has 3 out of 5 stars from 123 customer reviews. Zimmern, a Dean Phillips donor, did later apologize for his comments and offered his regrets to “anyone who was offended or hurt by those sound bites.”
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