The 4 Chefs Andrew Zimmern Would Select For His Culinary Mount Rushmore - Exclusive

No one likes being put on the spot — but if there's one person who's always up for a challenge, it's Andrew Zimmern. The "Bizarre Foods" host is one of the most respected voices in the food world today, thanks in part to his adventurous approach to dining over the years. But even when you catch the celebrity chef off-camera, you'll find that he loves chatting about culinary matters at length. Whether he's teaching us how to make the best grilled chicken ever or discussing why Miami is a new culinary capital, Zimmern is never afraid to share his expert opinions on all things related to food.

While choosing four of the greatest living chefs is no easy task, Zimmern may be the perfect person for the job. Ahead of his appearance at the 2024 South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, Florida, Tasting Corner sat down with the star for an exclusive interview where we asked his advice on some hypothetical construction plans. Considering the chef's expertise in the culinary sphere, we wanted to know: If he could pick four of today's top chefs to adorn a culinary Mount Rushmore monument, who would they be and why? To our delight, Zimmern indulged this imaginative request — and his choices were nothing short of iconic.

How Zimmern would construct the first part of his culinary monument

It's not every day that you're asked to carve out your own Mount Rushmore from scratch. We took a risk by asking Andrew Zimmern this somewhat controversial question about culinary figures, but it paid off in the end. "You're going to get me in so much trouble. No, I'm kidding," said the chef. "I'll tell you right now, they truly do have the best chefs in the country [at South Beach Wine & Food Festival.]" The four-day event, which was held in Miami, Florida, featured countless tastings, demonstrations, and celebrity guests like "Chopped" stars like Maneet Chauhan and Amanda Freitag.

"On my Mount Rushmore, I'd hope Nancy Silverton is there," he tells Tasting Corner. "She's one of the most unique culinary talents of this or any generation. [And] Thomas Keller should be on anyone's Mount Rushmore." According to Zimmern, both Silverton and Keller are shoo-ins for their extraordinary gifts as chefs. Next, Zimmern lists José Andrés, the Michelin-starred chef behind the non-profit organization World Central Kitchen. "[Andrés] now has 36, 38 restaurants around the world, including several in Miami, that are delicious and amazing, but he also founded World Central Kitchen," he says. "So how do you have a Mount Rushmore and not put him up there?"

It wouldn't be Mount Rushmore without the Mayor of Flavortown

As far as Andrew Zimmern's concerned, the Mayor of Flavortown is more than deserving of a place on his Mount Rushmore. "I don't know how you can talk about the modern food era and not talk about the influence of someone like Guy Fieri," Zimmern tells Tasting Corner. "I don't care how you define him; he has done more for the food world in terms of giving it that sort of rockstar status than anyone that you could name." Indeed, the celebrity chef has been hard at work lately on this mission — from launching the Flavortown Sports Kitchen at Las Vegas, Nevada's Horseshoe Hotel to unveiling a new Flavortown sauce line.

Of course, there are plenty of other culinary talents that Zimmern wishes he could fit in on his carving. After listing four Mount Rushmore picks off the top of his head, the chef was quick to add a few honorable mentions. "Look at all the people from Bobby Flay to Giada De Laurentiis to any James Beard Award winner," says Zimmern. "I mean, there are 100 chefs that also have a really good argument about why they should be up there as well." A 100-chef monument could take some time to build, but it'd certainly make a fine tourist attraction.

Keep up with the latest updates from Andrew Zimmern on his website.