The man who eats too much

Oct 14, 2012, 11:17 IST | Sanjiv Nair

Adam Richman, host of Man vs Food is ready with the second season, Man vs Food Nation. He talks about cheering women, his favourite sandwich mashup, and the unlimited Indian thali

Recently Adam Richman, the man who has completely transformed the definition of a ‘food show’ squeezed in a brief chat with us. And unless the bottom of a rock has been your choice of abode for these past few years, you will know that banter is not what Richman’s jaws are renowned for. 

Richman’s relationship with food has been referred to as decadent, pornographic and even reprehensible. But to most, Man vs Food, there is a vicarious pleasure to be derived watching him chomp down entire mountains of food between his ever-expanding mandibles.

So how did Richman become food’s worst nightmare? He reveals, “Fresh out of Yale School of Drama, I put myself on a five-year program to figure out if the media space works for me.

I read a book by Margaret Lobenstein called The Renaissance Soul which helped me focus my energies on two of my passions, television and food. Luckily a day or so later, my agent told me about a travel channel looking for someone who could act/host and had some culinary experience.

He should also like to eat, and should be able to eat a lot. Now I was broke at that time, and I was about to invest my bottom dollar on wearing out a T-shirt, that was merchandise from the restaurant I was supposed to review, at a Laundromat. But they loved my audition, and they loved the final bit where I unzip my jacket and reveal that I am actually a fan of the place with a faded out T-shirt. And that was that.”

The second season of Man vs Food Nation (MVFN) is about to debut. MVFN, is more of a League of Extraordinary Gluttons, that Richman recruits and trains to do what he does. So why would he want to sacrifice his ‘dream job’ to help others devour without remorse?

Well apparently, irreverent ingurgitation does have its side effects. Richman says, “It’s been some time since I took on a challenge myself but I remember, the incessant need to work out while the rest of the crew was enjoying the local eateries. I would be guzzling down gallons of water and maintaining an excruciatingly healthy diet of salads because that was the only way I could stay healthy. Ironically enough, more than my eating habits, it was the schedule that caused health issues — fatigue, bronchial problems owing to long hours in the kitchen.” Well there must have been some fun bits amidst all the pain he put himself through? Maybe the women? “Ike’s Ice Cream Shack California and Comstock Park, Michigan hands down, had the prettiest women cheering for me. I would even go so far as to say that their motivation was key!” quips Richman.

The next season of Man Vs Food Nation is all set to debut on the Travel and Living Channel, but how about a few different challenges to Richman. For example, what would be his version of the ultimate sandwich mashup from all his experiences? He thinks a bit before launching into a flurry of ingredients which include, “The Sriracha hot Thai sauce, potato chips for crispiness, avocado, roast meat, preferably, chicken or turkey, spring onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise and a few shreds of bacon piled within a crusty bread.” Richman’s comfort levels with food is formidable, and for a man who can speak multiple languages, is a trained actor, and an author it does seem like he can do just about anything. Almost anything. “I spent some time with Cherokee Indians, living off the land, but I could never do what they do.

I think I would just wait for help. Indian food is close to comfort food due to the great amount of vegetarian options and the spiciness in the dishes,” says Richman. There is one particular Indian food item that instantly made him scream “Pain! That is just raw pain man!” Richman’s response to the mere mention of Bhut Jolokia, an Assamese chilly pepper, one of the most piquant in the world was most uncharacteristic of him. There was another prospect we had urged him to pursue, though which he was a lot more interested in. The concept of the ‘unlimited’ thali that intrigued him almost immediately — “I wouldn’t mind taking down that entire industry single handedly,” he says. The show will premeire on November 5, 10 pm on Travel and Living channel 

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