Andrew Zimmern talks to us about teaming up with AARP to host a virtual Caregiver’s Thanksgiving

Celeb Chef Andrew Zimmern. Image courtesy Madeleine Hill
Celeb Chef Andrew Zimmern. Image courtesy Madeleine Hill /
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Andrew Zimmern
Celeb Chef Andrew Zimmern. Image courtesy Steve Henke /

Andrew Zimmern speaks to Guilty Eats about partnering with AARP for Thanksgiving

Guilty Eats: What inspired you to partner with AARP this year?

Andrew Zimmern: “They called about my interest in participating in this program and I said yes right away. I cared for my parents during the last eight and 10 years of their lives, respectively. I moved my mother here and cared for her in Minnesota, up until the time of her death. I’m also a parent so I understand, having been a caregiver myself, you know, from a firsthand standpoint how tough the job is. I also understand as the owner of several businesses and as a parent, the challenges COVID-19 has brought on as someone who has a lot of very publicly talked about my mental health issues. I understand the toll that this takes on people’s mental health.

And I’m also an AARP member, and I always found it interesting, when I actually took the time to read the literature that comes to my inbox all the time, that AARP is an advocate, the only advocate of its size for older Americans, and the only one that champions, not only the older Americans, but those who care for them especially unpaid family caregivers.

At the same time, having traveled around the world I’ve written a lot about this and spoken a lot about this in other parts of my job (jobs). America and increasingly parts of South America and Western Europe are marginalizing older members of their society. In traditional places in the world, the elders in a community are the most respected most sought after for advice most treasured most valued and people tend to live longer there and are happier. So I’ve talked about this issue a lot and it just all seemed to come together around Thanksgiving.

So when they said hey we’re doing this, you know, AARP presents a caregivers Thanksgiving, I said yes right away. Thanksgiving 2020, I mean, our lives are upside down. This is going to be a holiday like no other. It’s also not a gift giving holiday. It’s a come together as a family and eat, gratitude day. But now, we shouldn’t be gathering. A lot of us can’t travel we can’t see the whole family like we used to.

We’re battling the biggest depression since the great one. And this is the greatest public health crisis since 1918. So of course we’re scaling back our feasts and at the same time, we need to say thank you and show support to all those millions of caregivers so when AARP said, let’s do a Caregivers Thanksgiving and would you create some recipes that help people during what is a very unique Thanksgiving, I said absolutely.

I just thought wow this whole activation was written for me. So I’m actually the lucky one.”