Interview: Man v. Food's Adam Richman
For anyone that knows who Adam Richman—of Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and Man v. Food Nation fame—is, his name likely conjures up images of the insanely over-the-top extreme food challenges that always top off his show. As a big fan of the show, I’ve watched him sweat his way through the spiciest of hot wings; dive into a 7 lb. breakfast burrito; and even worse, have at a 12 lb. hamburger. Each time, my mouth watered while simultaneously my stomach (and heart) hurt at even just the mere thought of taking on any of these challenges.
Being such a fan of the show, when I had the opportunity to speak with Adam about his new partnership with a social travel-sharing endeavor called Memory Mapper, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to pick his brain, even if just briefly. Memory Mapper is a Facebook app that easily let’s you take your travel photos and videos to create a slideshow of sorts; but the cool part about it is that it connects with Google Earth so people watching also feel like they’re being taken there with you.
“There’s something very compelling about making someone a moving keepsake of a trip,” Adam told me. “I travel for work (and leisure when I can). I have software to make little movies. They’re incredibly difficult to share and to actually integrate. [Memory Mapper] makes video-editing tools very user friendly.”
And how easy is it to build? “The hardest thing for me was truly deciding what photos I wanted.” But once you’ve decided which ones to use? “You can do it in a matter of minutes.”
I was also curious about the music playing on Adam’s video. Was it automatically selected? (If so, kudos to Memory Mapper, because it was quite fitting.) Or could you use anything? “You can select your own music,” Adam told me. But your options are limited to a pre-existing list. “All the music has been cleared for usage rights. For me, it was a question of trying to find something that tonally captured these places.”
The final product is a living, breathing reenactment of your trip, and much more enticing than a standard photo album. Just take a look at Adam’s creation, built from photos and videos of his recent trip through Asia and tell me you don’t want to be there right now.
Even though the purpose of the interview was to learn about Memory Mapper, I couldn’t help but take the opportunity to talk about food. I mean, hi, this is Adam Richman here. I caught him a little off-guard and asked him what his favorite meal was during this Asian tour. It took a moment for him to decide, but then he said, “I went to a friend’s home in Hiroshima and her mother made authentic sukiyaki with an electric hot pot on the dining table. I never had anything like that before.”
But somewhere a little more public? “There’s a fish market that is featured briefly [in my video] called Tsukiji. They have lots of tiny purveyors with 4 or 6 seats. While there I had the absolute freshest sushi I’ve ever had. And the best ramen.” Not having had lunch yet, I may or may not have started to drool at this point.
So where would he like most to be the backdrop for his next food trip? “I’m gonna call it a deadlock tie between exclusively southeast Asia. I would also very much like to explore Latin America. Through Ecuador, Peru, and maybe even check out some of the smaller islands.”
Sticking to the food topic, I was curious what the driving force was behind his getting started in the food world. He told me, “Growing up in Brooklyn, obviously you’re exposed to everything on a grassroots level. I think I grew up with an adventurous palette and the desire to try things outside of my comfort level.”
Being a Queens dweller myself, I ended the interview with one final question—Brooklyn v. Queens: which has the better outer borough food? Adam laughed and said, “Obviously because I’m full of Brooklyn pride, I’m always gonna answer Brooklyn. But because of its influx of young families, hipsters, stuff like that, a lot of the raw, undiluted real ethnic foods are giving way to more artisanal eateries.” And after a moment, he admitted: “I’m always partial to Brooklyn, but in terms of feeling like you’re in a truly faraway place, it’s Queens.”
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure. He's currently working on a way to steal Adam Richman's job. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis