Commentary

Adam Richman is scared of ...

Originally Published: January 27, 2010
By Lynn Hoppes | Page 2

Adam Richman is scared.

He has conquered a 72-ounce steak.

He has conquered a Suicide 6 Wings Challenge.

He has conquered 180 oysters.

So why is the Travel Network star of "Man v. Food" scared of next Wednesday's challenge?

Richman will attempt to eat a 48-ounce steak in 20 minutes on live television during Super Bowl week in Miami.

That's 2.4 ounces every minute.

"It's a pride thing," he said. "I don't want to lose on live TV."

That competitive nature is what drives 35-year-old Richman, who grew up and still lives in Brooklyn and earned a master's degree from the Yale School of Drama.

If you've never seen the show, here's how it works: Richman shows up in a town and tries to break the established eating record at mostly mom-and-pop restaurants. He's not a competitive eater by nature, but he does love food. One of his most well-known lines when he starts noshing on food is "Happy Birthday to me."

He has taken burrito challenges. He has taken ice cream challenges. He has taken overstuffed sandwich challenges.

And now he takes on the challenge of the Page 2 Inquisition:

Page 2: Come on, big baby. You're getting soft on me. It's only 48 ounces.

Listen. It's a lot of meat. It's really thick. And that's after I'm standing up doing my jokes and thing for over an hour. Then I have to sit down and chew big bites for 20 minutes straight. Dare I say that's the athletic component of it?

You're 6 feet tall and about 230 pounds? Am I right?

That's deeply personal. I am 6 feet tall, though. But I try to keep my weight down. I'm trying to bring sexy back as much as I can. I don't want to look like a dripping candle. Who wants to watch that?

You tape from February to August, meaning you eat like this for six months. How can you stand upright?

Look, everyone wants to look like the cast member of the movie "300." But what I do is something occasionally. I'm not advocating this as a lifestyle. These are once in a blue moon indulgences. I work out at least twice a day at the minimum. I eat oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast. I'm not talking gluttony. I'm doing it as challenges.

What is your favorite meal?

It's just good pizza, salad and a cold beer. I understand the whole "three peas and a squab" style of eating. I appreciate the art of fine dining. But I want a meal. It doesn't have to be rich or cheese-laden. I just want extraordinary clean flavors.

Things you don't eat in the offseason?

I don't have ice cream in the offseason. I really don't do sweets. Maybe chocolate here or there. Too many empty calories in every sweet. I prefer the savory dishes.

Yale School of Drama? Are you serious?

I'm still paying off students loans. I remember standing in front of the office to pay for admissions, I'm saying, "I'm not in the medical school. They are over there curing cancer. I'm in drama. I'm rolling around on the carpet being an amoeba."

So how did you go from that to the Travel Channel?

I had a five-year plan after Yale. I wanted my SAG card. I wanted a national commercial. I wanted to work for a top regional theater company. I wanted 60 percent of my income to come from acting. I was closing in on the five-year plan. I sent this test reel to Travel Channel of the show, which later became "Man v. Food." It was all shot in Brooklyn. I pretended I was in Philadelphia. Then Boston. And I was to hear something on May 1. Well, May 1 rolls around and nothing. There is bar across the street. I ran over there and got to the bottom of a shot glass. Then a bottom of a liquor bottle. I stumble back to my apartment. I wake up the next day, and I see my message light is blinking. It's the executive producer. He said, "Give me a call. We had your cell phone number wrong by one digit." So I call him, and he says, "Ready to be a star?" I fall to my knees. I start crying. I scream.

What is your single biggest regret?

That my dad, who passed away in 1998, didn't get a chance to see my show. He would have loved it. I'm so happy that I'm able to provide money for my mom, though.

How about a last meal?

I would ask for the buffet so they wouldn't be able to kill me. Or I'd invite everyone I know to a good barbecue restaurant. And I'd bring the warden along. He would say in a Southern drawl, "Wow, this is sure delicious. Any man who could bring me to such a wonderful meal is not too bad. A stay of execution for this man." That's what I'd like.

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