Andrew Zimmern has gained a sizeable following thanks to his hosting gig on Bizarre Foods, the Travel Channel show that has given us six seasons of brain-eating goodness. Zimmern is simultaneously the host of Appetite For Life on MSN. That show, branded by Toyota, has begun its fourth season with a shiny new website and some interactive uses of social media that bring viewers along for the ride.
The conceit of Appetite for Life is simple: Zimmern gallivants around the country in his Toyota Venza and stops at restaurants that he feels are doing creative and interesting things with food. In many ways, it’s fair to consider the series as Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with a high-class twist. In the first episode of season four, Zimmern stops by his hometown of Minneapolis (where he himself is a restaurateur) to give viewers a tour of his favorite ice cream joint.
The show is keeping things fresh by increasing its use of social media within the show. Zimmern allowed users to choose which new flavor of ice cream he would help create via a poll on the show’s Facebook page (the winner was ‘Thai-Tastic‘, featuring Thai basil and chili peppers. Spicy!) In addition, fans are being encouraged to Instagram their favorite food combinations, which are shown in a photo gallery on the Appetite for Life website. As a friendly warning, I would advise you not to look at said gallery if you are hungry. Some of the Instagram pictures are food porn of the highest order.
The branding from Toyota is not too intrusive, and is accomplished mostly through shots of the Venza’s features as Zimmern drives around in it. MSN is the exclusive distributor, so navigate over there if you want to learn about really tasty food. And really, who doesn’t want that?