74oz steak, a 2ft-wide 190lb burger, a 14in reindeer sausage and the world’s hottest ‘ghost chilli’ wings; Adam Richman has tried – and sometimes failed – to eat his way through monstrous menus for your viewing pleasure. Now semi-retired from ‘quantity eating’, his legacy lives on in the form of Man V. Food, the cult TV show that’s become a touchstone for a generation of anti-gourmets obsessed with Mexican food trucks, barbecue rubs and custom-blended cheeseburgers. Nick Frost – Richman’s friend, fellow foodie and fan of the show – talks crabs and cannibalism with the king of meat sweats…
Nick Frost: Did any of your challenges taste downright awful?
Adam Richman: The breakfast burrito in Denver. I had a fever of 101 during that episode and, to make matters worse, the burrito contained three elements that I detest in challenges; little cartilaginous chunks of ham, green peppers (made somewhat more tolerable by roasting) and a mass of mushy potatoes. It won’t surprise you to learn that potatoes are the Kryptonite of quantity eating. Oh, and the sous chef openly admitted that he’d made the challenge 2.5lb bigger just so I’d lose. But then again, here I am telling people in print how bad his food was – so perhaps I’m not the one who lost, after all?
NF: What’s your favourite place to eat in London?
AR: Anywhere you are, Nick! The meal we had at Hix was pretty amazing. I’m also a really big fan of The Rib Man at the King’s Cross KERB market. Mark has been a butcher since the age of 15 and his ribs are a homage to US barbecue.
NF: Do you like to cook?
AR: You know I do! Granted, Nick, I’m not on your level, but I try. My formal training is in sushi, but I love making everything from slow roasted turkey for Thanksgiving to great seafood stews and soups such as cioppino or zarzuela. I’ve always loved fun appetisers, too. It’s kind of the same reason that I love tacos – you get explosive flavours in these unique, bite-sized packages. I also make a pretty epic burger and I can cook the hell out of a good bone-in ribeye.
NF: If you had to prepare and eat a human, which cut would you select?
AR: One of the inner back muscles, because it’s like a loin. Unless the person worked a desk job – then I’d go for quadriceps or glutes. Good marbling. I’d dry age the muscle, then dry rub and steam with apple and pineapple juice to eliminate stringy fibres and gaminess. Baste with Sriracha hot sauce, garlic and honey and give it a quick sear before cooking low and slow in an oven or smoker. Then maybe make human poutine [chips, gravy and cheese curds]? I feel bad for being so specific about this.
NF: Describe your ideal Sunday.
AR: Honestly? Sleep in late, wake up, have earth-shattering sex – preferably with somebody – then a great brunch or toasted bagel with cream cheese, beefsteak tomato, red onion and whitefish salad from Russ & Daughters on Houston Street in New York. Some good coffee, The New York Times, maybe a walk in Prospect Park or along the High Line. Then back home for more sex. Then a nap, an epic candlelight dinner and the wrap-up show on ESPN or Sky Sports.
NF: What would be your ‘desert island’ sandwich?
AR: Wow. Probably the roast pork with extra sharp provolone and broccoli rabe from DiNic’s in Philadelphia. Or maybe the champ sandwich from chef Eric Greenspan at The Foundry in Los Angeles, the fried chicken sandwich from Son Of A Gun also in LA, the double dip roast beef from Brennan & Carr in Brooklyn, the chicken Conquistador sandwich from Zunzi’s in Georgia, the banh mi from Hanco’s in Brooklyn, the pastrami with Russian [dressing] and slaw from Katz’s Delicatessen in New York…
NF: OK, here’s an easier one. Fruitcake or sponge for the base of your wedding cake?
AR: Wow, those are the only choices? I’m beginning to understand why I’m not married. Probably sponge.
NF: What’s your greatest fear?
AR: I’d say failure. My whole life I have taken the path less travelled. I’ve received more than my fair share of warnings and the extreme nature of the early episodes of Man V. Food provoked plenty of over-opinionated haters. But I never want to give any of my critics the satisfaction of seeing me fail – I’d rather give them nightmares by relentlessly succeeding.
NF: What would your death row meal be?
AR: I’d probably choose a really delicious buffet that I could share with the warden and judge. It would be so good we would keep coming back for more, thus forcing a stay of execution.
NF: If society collapsed what would be the one food you missed?
AR: Probably really good pizza. Or sushi.
NF: And finally, did you get crabs at Humpy’s?
AR: I did indeed! Just to clarify for those of you who don’t watch the show, I took the Kodiak Arrest Challenge at Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse. For $160 you get 3lb of king crab, a 14in reindeer sausage, a ton of sides, crab nuggets and ice cream. Lick the plate clean in 60 minutes and you are awarded a T-shirt [“I got Crabs at Humpy’s”]. However, it still doesn’t explain the rash I got after a night out further north in Alaska. That ointment really isn’t working…