Eat your heart out

Eat your heart out


Varshini murali speaks to famous food personality Adam Richman, known mostly for the food challenges he tackled on Man v. Food, about the final season of this popular series — ‘Man v. Food Nation’.

Of course, you know the face from somewhere. Don’t you remember? Adam Richman? He was that guy on the telly who’d go from place to place in America, wolfing down pillow-sized burgers and guzzling gallons of milkshake. All in one go that too, as he took on one food challenge after another in TLC’s Man v. Food. And now, he’s back, with Man v. Food Nation, the final chapter of his Man v. Food series, all set to grace our screens in November.

While the previous seasons of Man v. Food might have chronicled “one man’s journey into the culinary heartland of America,” where Richman could be seen taking on food challenges at some of the best local joints in and around America, Man v. Food Nation focuses on the locals themselves — “the people who made the challenges and the restaurants iconic in the first place,” as Richman puts it.

He’s quick to point out that he was never a competitive eater; there is a fine distinction between competitive eating and taking on a food challenge, he stresses — “There are true competitive eaters; there’s even an international union for the same — the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). They’re the guys who could eat big 70 to 80 hot dogs per minute. That is a skill set I neither have nor one I strive to achieve.”

Fit to feast

But how does one prepare for a food challenge exactly? Exercise! Exercise, Richman explains, raises one’s metabolism. Besides, he says, preparation for a food challenge is mainly based on the nature of the challenge itself — “If it was a quantity challenge, you’d want to be as empty as possible, but still at the same time keep your stomach stretched out and well hydrated. I would always recommend plain white rice and bananas before a challenge, to create a buffer or an absorption element, and to avoid any caustic burns.”

Filming a food challenge cannot be as easy or fun as it looks. It isn’t just about gorging in front of the camera, and that too in record time. Who knew that eating would take up so much of prior physical preparation, and effort? As Richman revealed the physical rigour, cleansing and preparation that his body required, not to mention the effort needed to host the show as well, one thing was certain — the human body was bound to crash at some point or the other, especially when following such a routine — “When I was personally doing the challenges, I would say the hardest part would be making sure I got the necessary amount of exercise while shooting 12 to 14 hours a day. There was also the fact that I had to fast and film for nine to 10 hours with nothing in my stomach. Or, I would have nothing in my stomach for about 14 to 18 hours and then have to film a full day, before I ever got to eat. When I eventually did get to eat, it would be this massive meal.”

What were his favourite challenges? From among the challenges that he personally took on while filming for earlier seasons of Man v. Food, he picks out the ‘Kodiak Arrest Challenge’, which he partook in at Humphy’s Alaskan Alehouse in Anchorage, Alaska. And from Man v. Food Nation, Richman found the challenge in Milwaukee, at a place called Red Rock Saloon, to be fascinating. The Milwaukee challenge, he went on to add, was doubly difficult — it required overcoming not just quantity, but also spice — “This was the one I liked watching the most, while filming for Man v. Food Nation. The locals had to take on some hot wings and a huge burger in a crushing time limit. It was all the more challenging because the food was actually quite appealing, and there was a lot of dynamism involved in that episode. And, I enjoyed that.”

With Man v. Food Nation marking the end of this popular series, Richman has since branched out — his latest food show being Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America. As per current telly trends however, four seasons of any show appears to be much too little.

Why stop now, one wonders, to which Richman explains, “One can overstay their welcome on television if they just keep doing the same things. I had done 59 challenges; I think there’s only so much of the same guy doing the same stuff that anyone can bear.”

The final season manages to bring in a fresh element, one which involves the
locals, and has Richman helping them through various food challenges. But for now, as his Twitter bio reads, Richman maintains — “Quite done with food challenges, thank you.”

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