Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods host, Andrew Zimmern, announced the winners of the Munchies Awards on May 4th. The Munchies is comprised of 20 categories that was divided into three categories: Terrific Tastemakers, Best Bites, Delicious Destinations. Some categories were favorite TV food personality, most newsworthy cookbook, best chef, the most iconic burger, best pizza and more. The nominations were chosen by a panel of food experts including Zimmern. Once the nominations were announced, the public was given an opportunity to vote online for their favorites. After the awards ceremony, Foodista was able to catch up with Zimmern and ask him a few questions.
What criteria do you look for in nominations?
"I am seeking excellence. Excellence can be evaluated in different ways and personally I am looking for "is it good?" The people I nominated on the list ended up winning like Food 52 [Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs] and April Bloomfield [chef at The Spotted Pig]. I don't think you can argue that those people are not excellent in their field."
Were there any personal favorites that didn't make the cut?
"I was devastated that Bobcat Bite didn't win. I think In-N-Out is the most overrated hamburger in the US. I am more into the 20 ft place on the side of a highway in a town that was forgotten in the New Mexico desert. I think they nailed it [burger]: It's thick, crusty, beefy." [Bobcat Bite will appear on Bizarre Foods New Mexico episode in August].
What sets the Munchies apart from other food awards?
"We merged two elements: the expertise of the panel with crowd sourcing. For a first year, the Munchies were incredibly successful with 120,000 participants. We did a lot of things that worked well and hope to make it bigger and better."
Do you believe that food awards, like the Munchies, have any impact on the food community?
"We were trying to create a national conversation about food by embracing tablesponn.com's audience and engaging as many people as possible. There are businesses all over the country creating excellent food products but are too often closing their doors. If I can get people talking about it [food] with friends and rewarding food excellence, hopefully it will become the fertile Petri dish to nurture and grow the American food community."
Bizarre Foods 100th episode will be taking place in Las Vegas and premiering July 2012.
You can view the full list of winners on tablespoon.com or watch the video below.
Follow Andrew Zimmern on Twitter at @andrewzimmern