Andrew Zimmern opens L.A. Pop Up bistro

Paula Duffy's picture

Andrew Zimmern remembered what it was like to be the chef in a restaurant kitchen instead of the visitor and food taster, as he took his Bizarre Foods America caravan to Los Angeles.

The Pop-Up restaurant craze intrigued Andrew Zimmern enough for him to rent a space, hire a staff, stock the essentials for a kitchen and dining room and then open a restaurant for one night in an L.A. neighborhood.

The Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods America has taken its host around the world and then some and in his travels he's kept mental notes of what he would serve in his own eatery if he returned to his roots for a pop-up moment.

The finest of ingredients, meats and seafood would be on the menu and what better place to stage it than the city where it has become a practiced art form.

Zimmern went to visit popular L.A. spots with specialty items he sampled to get some ideas for his own menu. He also met Ludo Lefebvre who he credits for being at the center of the movement that took the concept of a one-night party to the restaurant business.

If a chef hits the right note with customers, they will be more likely to follow him or her to the next place for another night of cuisine. They follow Ludo like a touring rock band.

When Andrew explained his plans and preparation for the event that was coming in the next few days, he was told in no uncertain terms he was crazy. Of course, fans of the show already knew that . Watch video posted below for Ludo's honest assessment of the venture.

Working with staff he was not familiar with in a space he had chosen but not designed, then expecting to serve seven or eight courses to 750 people was unrealistic and bound to produce unexpected results.

Despite the daunting task, our intrepid chef and foodie plowed on. He found the best places in and around Los Angeles for most of his staples including a butcher shop run by a couple whose specialty is pig's head bacon.

As we have seen in previous weeks on Bizarre Foods, Andrew Zimmern likes nothing more than eating every inch of an animal including head, tail, entrails, brains and the like. Read about his review of New Mexico cuisine, here.

We watched as he carved up a pig's head that had been severed and skinned to help produce the most succulent, in his opinion, bacon he had ever tasted. He headed over to markets that sold exotic types of seafood he had sampled on other continents.

As he realized the enormity of what he was about to do, he cashed in his favors with good pals that run parts of the worldwide restaurant empire for Wolfgang Puck. They pitched in with 24 hours notice when the kitchen space and design made it plain that the one-night stand was going to be trying at best.

Throw in some lack of planning about where to park electric power generators that had L.A.P.D ready to shut the operation down in the middle of the dinner service and you've got a whole bunch of crazy.

Credit Zimmern for having a sense of humor and for his ability to go out into the middle of the dining space as the event was ongoing to explain a temporary black out without the customers throwing pig's head bacon at him.

The worst of it for customers was the long wait for tables as the night wore on. If you stayed and got through to dessert you were treated to a chocolate confection using pig's blood. Folks seemed to like it, once they got past the listed ingredient.

It was a night of chaos and triumph over faulty refrigeration, a scary lack of ingredients, poor permit planning and too many courses. Nonetheless it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Andrew Zimmern never disappoints.

Read more news and reviews about Bizarre Foods America here at HULiQ or at my Twitter page

Travel Channel airs new episodes of Bizarre Foods America each Monday night at 9:00 p.m. ET with replays during the week. Image: Wikipedia

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