Andrew Zimmern is best known as a successful TV personality with a string of cookbooks. But before he achieved fame and fortune, he struggled with severe addictions to both drugs and alcohol. On Tuesday, the celebrity chef shared a moving post of gratitude honoring his 28th anniversary of sobriety — and he also used the opportunity to encourage others currently going through a similar struggle.
About three years after first opening up about his past struggles, Zimmern took to Instagram with another account of what it felt like to suffer from the disease, paired with a photo of himself from the early 1980s in which he's toasting a glass of wine.
"Today I’m 28 years sober on the 28th. A golden date. I’m grateful and very overwhelmed," Zimmern wrote. "Every anniversary I wonder “why me”? Why me when so many others end up in jails, institutions or die from this illness. Well, I did jails/institutions and I wanted to die at the end, but the universe had different plans for me. I can’t ever begin to repay the debt I owe to others."
Zimmern thanked particular people in his life, from sponsors (part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program) to roommates, friends and "fellow travelers on the road to happy destiny."
In 2017, Zimmern shared the same photo and shared, "the smile on the outside is a mask. The pain inside was unimaginable and indescribable."
This anniversary, he also offered advice and solidarity to others.
"To those struggling with this disease, I wasted years not asking for help from people who cared about me. Once I did, that simple act changed my life. Baudelaire said drunkenness was “the great imperative, in order not to feel, times horrid fardel, bruise your shoulders, grinding you into the earth.”I hear ya’ Chuck...but there IS a solution. #higherpowered"
Once homeless during his years spent suffering from addiction, Zimmern is the creator, executive producer and host of one of the Travel Channel's longest running shows, "Bizarre Foods." He also hosted Food Network's "Big Food Truck Tip."
On Feb. 16, Zimmern's latest venture, a five-episode series called "What's Eating America?" will premiere on MSNBC. The celebrity chef's latest series explores the politics of food in the U.S. and will include episodes that feature topics on how the food industry intersects with voting rights, healthcare and also addiction.