News & Media

Six Pack: Richman has appetite for instruction

August 16, 2011, Joe Menzer,

'Man v. Food Nation' host Richman looks forward to working with Logano

Adam Richman, host of the popular Travel Channel shows Man v. Food and Man v. Food Nation, was grand marshal for last Monday's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International and answers this week's six questions.

1. How did you come to be involved in NASCAR, and why do you enjoy it so much?

"Joey, despite his Happy Meal, Michael Phelps-ian physique, is a beast and a winner and wants to give it a shot."


Richman: I was very fortunate to be able to introduce Mike Helton and Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer during a benefit for Nashville flood victims a couple years back. My dad, may he rest in peace, was a huge, huge NASCAR fan.

Truth be told, the only cars I've ever driven were a Chevy Celebrity, a Dodge Neon, a Ford Focus. It's true. I buy American. I believe in it. I know there are Toyotas and stuff involved in NASCAR now, but this notion of stock-car racing, I think it's the coolest thing ever because these are the same models we all can buy and drive. ... Despite the varied heritage of some of the drivers, which also is cool, this sport is distinctly American and there is nothing quite like coming to an event like [Watkins Glen] and seeing it in person -- seeing the cars, seeing the tires all stacked up, seeing the haulers, seeing the drivers, seeing the track and the passion of the fans.

I took a pace-car ride and I'm still waiting for some of my internal organs to be returned to me via Fed Ex as a result of that ride. It really gives you an appreciation for what these guys do as they go full throttle around these tracks for up to four hours at a time. And the thing is, the fans maintain their level of enthusiasm for that entire time as well.

My dad, as I said, was a huge NASCAR fan. But like a lot of Jews from Brooklyn, my first exposure to NASCAR was [the movie] Stroker Ace. I admit it. The firesuits caught my eye. I still maintain that the driver's firesuit is one of the coolest uniforms in all of sport. And I really think Travel Channel dropped the ball in not giving me one. We could put Zantac across the chest.

That said, food is my area of expertise -- and we recruited one very handsome and svelte driver, Joey Logano, to take on the Atomic Bomb Challenge [in an upcoming episode of Man v. Food Nation that was filmed following Monday's race].

2. Why Logano, whose age and physique seem more suited to, um, Happy Meals?

Richman: It's funny. My dad used to love Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, guys like that. Some of those old-school drivers had sort of the panda-bear physique that I have now. I didn't get the memo that you all of a sudden now have to be an underwear model to be a NASCAR driver. I feel like the before picture standing next to all these guys now.

But muscle expands more than adipose [stomach] tissue, so in these food challenges it's usually these leaner guys who do better -- because blubber doesn't expand. Joey loves food and he's pretty athletic, plus he's 21 years old so he has that metabolism of a hummingbird. He's got that will to win.

People talk to me and say, 'You're totally living the dream. You have a Philly cheese steak one week and Chicago-style pizza the next.' But to me, Joey Logano's not living the dream? I think it's kind of neat to see these two worlds collide.

3. What exactly is Logano going to attempt to eat in his food challenge?

Richman: It's a massive burger with pulled pork on it and a whole bunch of fries and a crunching time limit -- but I think he's probably handled worse. He's a big fan of the show. Joey, despite his Happy Meal, Michael Phelps-ian physique, is a beast and a winner and wants to give it a shot.

4. Folks may be surprised to learn this, but you earned your Master's Degree in fine arts from the Yale University School of Drama, didn't you?

Richman: If you go to YouTube -- and I can't believe I'm actually directing you to do this -- but there is a Bank of America NASCAR Visa card commercial that helped me pay off my student loans to Yale. I'm in it, playing a fan of Kasey Kahne. ... That was some of my finest work.

5. What was your favorite personal food challenge in the three years you ate your way across America in Man v. Food episodes?

Richman: Probably Alaska, because the challenge really had to do with the place where we were. It had to do with salmon and crab and reindeer, but a bunch of variety -- which for a quality challenge is real important, I think. It was like three pounds of crab, reindeer sausage, a bunch of vegetables, salmon croquets, scarlet mashed potatoes. It was huge -- but it was so delicious that I'm kind of reluctant to admit I might have ordered that on my own. It was so damn good. There also was a dessert. I had to do a mixed berry crisp a la mode as well.

The food in the place was so good that when my Mom went to Alaska, I had her eat there. And then also we went back there and ate there as a crew.

6. Is there anything you won't eat -- and, by the way, how come you don't weigh like 500 pounds?

Richman: I'm not a fan of sardines. I'm not a fan of green peppers, particularly. There are some ethnic foods, like Japanese bean paste, that I don't like. That's gross. It's like someone else ate it and spit it out.

The thing is now with Man v. Food Nation, where I'm coaching people through the challenges, I'm eating less myself. Generally when I'm not taping and sampling the foods I'm trying to showcase, I try to keep it very light. Lots of lean protein. Tons of fruit and vegetables, tons and tons of water.

But exercise also is paramount. I just have to. A lot of cardio. I try not to eat super late. I do a lot of back and leg workouts so I can get my metabolism revved kind of high. I'll take time off to just train and cut the diet to just a bare minimum. I don't have the advantage of youth and that hummingbird metabolism like Joey Logano.