As he was showing a hungry crowd how to make an excellent paella, the chef entertained with some heartfelt, inspiring and seriously useful bits of wisdom.
Andrew Zimmern
Credit: Abby Hocking

Not everyone can whip together a pan of paella and a fresh salad in front of a crowd while managing to both entertain and inspire. But not everyone is Andrew Zimmern. At his panel, "Paella: Spain's Greatest Party Food" at this year's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the beloved chef delivered, showing off technique and throwing not just a paella party, but dropping useful and heartfelt nuggets of wisdom along the way. If you want to get to know the TV personality a little bit better, here are 16 great one-liners from Zimmern's talk:

On why he’s chosen to do what he does for a living: “Food is great; food with a story is better.”

On travel: “When we travel and eat, our understanding of the world around us broadens, and our patience, tolerance and understanding of those communities broadens."

On Anthony Bourdain: "The man was a fucking symphony."

On the stigma against talking about mental health: "It’s an evil, pernicious and corrosive thread in our society and it needs to come out and let the light of day just bake the shit out of it."

On eating paella, which is a communal dish meant to be eaten straight from the pan: "Stay in your lane when you’re eating paella."

Speaking about the Maillard reaction: "Brown is the color of flavor."

On putting spices into his pan later in the cooking process, to avoid burning: "Life happens in the kitchen."

On using the right sized knife: “I can’t stand it when chefs say ‘all I need is one good knife and I can cook anything— That’s true, but it’s also not true.”

Walking the audience through a salad dressing: “I’m going to do something most home cooks never do: I’m going to taste my food.”

On a demure round of applause from the audience: "Your tepid applause is morale breaking."

On TV chefs: "Chefs who are now on TV have huge egos and no self-esteem at all."

On putting the final touches on a dish: “Sometimes the best tools in the kitchen are your hands.”

On the spiritual connection that we have with food: “If you love food and you love cooking and you’re going to put up with my bullshit for 45 minutes, then in some way, maybe big maybe small, then like me, cooking is your yoga.”

On using all five senses when you cook, including your hearing: "Food talks to you."

Addressing the question of something that he doesn't like, he first pronounced: "I like fermented walrus anus—Don't knock it 'til you've tried it."

Answering the question if there has ever been anything he couldn't keep down: "I've never suffered an on-camera reversal."