MINNEAPOLIS - Food is a huge part of the Super Bowl, and we're not just talking about that killer artichoke dip your Aunt Nancy makes.
Nope, we're thinking much bigger, and so is celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern.
He’s essentially the official Super Bowl Chef, and since this is his hometown, he’s pretty darn excited about it.
"I'm thrilled. I've got my running shoes on and a warm hat,” says Zimmern.
Chef Andrew Zimmern is certainly not a Super Bowl novice, but this time he admits it feels different.
“Oh, very much so," he says. "I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility."
Perhaps it's because he actually has a tremendous amount of responsibility. He's on the board of Taste of the NFL, which of course got its start here at the ‘92 Super Bowl, so you know, no pressure.
“We've also created the big tailgate challenge for kids to try to promote healthy eating here in Minnesota, and leave behind a legacy in the state, so that this isn't just a onetime experience, and I think that's what separates us from other folks,” says Zimmern.
Zimmern's food has become a staple at U.S. Bank Stadium, but you better believe a Super Bowl amps things up just a wee bit.
“I think that day it's going to be special because you've got lots of people lining up for your sandwich that are chefs, eaters, celebrities, superfans, corporate titans, so you get to feed a whole different class of people,” he says.
Zimmern has also teamed up with the folks at On Location Experiences.
They are the group that sells the VIP ticket packages that get fans special access.
Zimmern's working the menu for four events: The pregame party with Kelly Clarkson at the Armory, the Minnesota Host Committee party and the Delta Club and Buffalo Wild Wings club inside the stadium.
“Trying to design really cool food that's going to be produced at the stadium, for 8,000 people, separated into two different parties, over the course of a nine-hour swing, while at the same time doing food in the stadium, is an engineering challenge, but at the same time it is a lot of fun, especially at this point in my career. It's a lot more challenging than cooking dinner for six at home, I can tell you that,” he says.
We have faith... and so does Andrew Zimmern.
Here's his bold Super Bowl prediction.
“I think On Location Experiences, and the Super Bowl Host Committee, and the city of Minneapolis, have teamed up to create an experience that I guarantee, I literally guarantee, it’s like Babe Ruth calling the shot, is going to be the best hosted Super Bowl in the history of Super Bowls and I wouldn't be saying that if I didn't believe it."
The new Season of Bizarre Foods premieres Tuesday, Jan. 23 on the Travel Channel. Zimmern also has a brand new show called Zimmern's List, starting in March.