Scripps Networks Interactive-owned channel Travel Channel is preparing to eat its way across the globe with the culinary travelogue Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food (pictured) from Minneapolis-based Intuitive Content.
The 8 x 60-minute series, premiering August 16 at 9 p.m. EST/PST, follows the chef and culinary explorer as he discover some of the world’s most vibrant cities by teaming up with local cab drivers to get a true feel for each bustling metropolis and its food culture.
Hosted and executive produced by Zimmern, the series will give viewers a behind-the-scenes, insider’s look at off-the-grid eateries and activities across such domestic and international locales as Nashville and Chicago in the U.S.; London; Berlin; Bangkok; Medellin; Rio de Janeiro; and Hyderabad.
Both of the Nashville and Chicago episodes are each 30-minute programs that will broadcast with back-to-back showings, while the remaining seven episodes run for 60 minutes each.
To provide viewers with an intimate journey across each city, crews rigged taxis, rickshaws and shikaras with multiple cameras to capture a variety of angles.
“The cab really became a big part of the show, and the time they spent in the cab was a device that we use for them to get out a lot of information about the city and to get to know each other a little bit,” says Dan O’Brien (pictured, right), VP of production and development at Intuitive Content, and series exec producer.
“That became a challenge and your day becomes very long,” he added. “Typically on these shows you would go to your location and you would shoot at your location, and there would be a little bit of down time until you go to the next one, but in this series we were constantly shooting.”
Unpredictable weather patterns in the form of torrential rain in the coastal city of Chennai, India wreaked enough havoc on production that it forced crews to scramble at the 11th hour and relocate to the landlocked metropolis of Hyderabad, India – about 390 miles (628 km) to the north.
“We don’t have an unlimited amount of money to do these shows, and our time is pretty tight, so you’re always nervous about weather,” O’Brien explains. “About a week and a half before our team was supposed to land [in Chennai], our fixer called and said it had not stopped raining for a week. The next day, the city was closed down and under water. We were able to switch the whole shoot to a different city [Hyderabad] in about a week.”
O’Brien said the Minneapolis-based Intuitive team would secure drivers through an on-the-ground fixer months prior to arriving in each specific city. Through phone and Skype interviews, producers would circle in on a handful of cabbies before a small group of individuals coalesced in each city.
In Hyderabad, however, producers weren’t afforded the luxury of time. Though Intuitive’s fixer had a few connections with local cab companies, teams were forced to hail cabs across the city while making casting decisions without hesitation.
“Our goal was to make this [series] feel different,” O’Brien says. “Part of the challenge is that Andrew’s had an incredibly successful show that’s been on for a very long time [Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods], so it’s something that we talked to the network a lot about – how do we keep that audience that’s been really faithful to him but then expand upon that and do some different things.
“We were able to shoot this in a more vérité style than [Zimmern's] other shows and really try to make the audience feel what each place is like. Hopefully a new audience will discover him.”
Intuitive Content’s Zimmern and O’Brien serve as executive producers on the series, alongside Liz Tracy, who is listed as showrunner and co-executive producer.
It has been a busy year for Intuitive since launching last year. Most recently, the company has produced another pilot with Travel Channel as well as six episodes of The Navigator’s Table with brand partner Renaissance Hotels. Additionally, Intuitive is developing supplemental projects with Renaissance and is set to coproduce an as yet unannounced premium content series with Show of Force.
“We are concentrating on the food, travel and culture space because one of our points of difference is Andrew and he has a tremendous network of people in that space that we can get to – there’s a lot of value in that,” O’Brien explained, adding that Intuitive plans on expanding its scope while building upon its branded projects.
- Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food premieres August 16 at 9 p.m. EST/PST.
- Check out an exclusive clip below