He may be featured on the Monday night episode of the show , but that doesn’t mean a thing to Chef Trey Foshee.
The executive chef and part-owner of seems to have a hang up with the word “bizarre” in relation to food.
“Bizarre is a relative term, it’s subjective,” Foshee said. “Is sea urchin weird? Well, for some people it is, but for others it’s absolutely normal.”
Over the years, bizarre has become a pejorative adjective, especially when used describing food. And Andrew Zimmern’s antics on his show Bizarre Foods hasn’t helped. But Foshee said Zimmern’s mission is more than just showing an audience something strange in his mouth.
“[Andrew Zimmern’s] thing is to explore what’s out there. Not just because it’s weird,” Foshee said. “What’s bizarre to you isn’t bizarre to someone else.”
Nonetheless, Foshee did say that growing up, he ate a substantial amount of something many might crinkle their noses at.
“I grew up in Ojai,” he said. “Spam is a big part of the food scene there. I grew up eating a certain amount of spam.”
Foshee also took another seemingly-strange food experience from his childhood and incorporated into George’s menu.
“I remember being on a boat and they had a little hibachi set up and there was some kind of tuna [on it] but it was just the bones,” Foshee said. “They marinated the bones in soy sauce and grilled them and you kind of just sucked on them and took the little bit of meat off the bones. I still have that flavor and experience in my head really clearly. Some people might thing that’s bizarre, but it’s really good.”
Foshee also used to go down by the shore and find opihis, which are like a small, black sea snail, and pick them out of their shells with needles and eat them raw. And while you won’t find those on his menu, you will find another strange sea creature on George’s new tasting menu.
“We’re playing around with the local goose neck barnacle—perceves,” he said. “In Spain they’re a delicacy—they go for big, big money. They’re available here, they’re not quite as good as the ones in Spain, but they’re pretty darn good. I think those are definitely something people think of as bizarre but they have a really mild flavor and really outstanding and delicious.”
Foshee refused to name other chefs that have what may be considered a “bizarre” food style, perhaps because as a chef, himself, nothing is off limits.
“I don’t find anything really bizarre. This is my industry, this is my life,” he said. “I’m more of a proponent of nothing is really weird. We’ve been eating animals for a long, long time and relatively recently we decided we don’t eat parts of the animals, we throw away parts of the animals and we only eat certain parts of the animals.
“For thousands of years that wasn’t the case. We ate the entire animal. And now we’re getting back into that a little bit. For some people it seems bizarre, but is it really? It’s only bizarre because the last 50 years or so of the way the food culture has gone.”
Want to try out some of Chef Foshee’s goose neck barnacles or fish-bone inspired sauces? Pay a visit to George’s at the Cove and pick out the most bizarre dish on the menu to you and eat it with an open mind.
And don’t miss out Chef Foshee on Bizarre Foods America, which is set to air on the Travel Channel July 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.