The untold truth of ‘Man v. Food’
‘Man v. Food’ was a staple on the Travel Channel from 2008 to 2012. The show’s host, Adam Richman, became a household name by completing dozens of eating challenges and visiting a bunch of famous restaurants. The show highlighted the world of competitive eating and some of the most famous diner food challenges, through the eyes of an amateur. Viewers either loved or hated the show, but there’s a lot you might not know about Adam Richman and the show that gave him his big break — including how it’s gone since his departure.
Most fans would agree that the biggest challenge of hosting Man v. Food would be the show’s seemingly impossible challenges. But when Adam Richman auditioned for his role, the one thing he didn’t have to do was prove he could scarf down an ungodly amount of food in a single sitting.
In an interview with Heeb, Richman said he had nothing to do with the conception or creation of the show in its initial stages. “I auditioned … no challenges along the way, it was just talking about food.” It took the host six auditions to finally earn the role as host.
Adam Richman consulted with doctors before going on the show
It’s always important to consult your doctor before making drastic changes to your lifestyle, and Richman was especially cautious with this before hosting Man v. Food. A drama school graduate from Yale, this new gig was a complete 180 for the former actor.
According to a live chat he did with ESPN in 2010, Richman says he visited specialists ahead of time because he “wanted to start with a baseline of good health, versus correcting bad health down the road.” Even with Richman putting in prep work, the host packed on plenty of weight over the course of four seasons of filming.
Richman wouldn’t eat the day before a challenge
Preparation was key for Richman whenever he would take on a new eating challenge on the show. Part of that process involved going an entire day without eating before each challenge. Doing so helped the host increase his eating capacity when he would sit down at the table and feast.
In a 2009 interview with 411MANIA, Richman said the show’s tight production schedule would sometimes make it difficult to prepare for a challenge the way he wanted to. Because of those challenges, the host would — as he puts it — “work out like a beast the night before and the morning of” a challenge.
Would Richman rather eat something hot or huge?
It’s a classic food challenge question: Would you rather eat something that burns the inside of your mouth, or something that is so massive you have trouble putting it all down? In an interview with The Guardian, Richman finally gave his fans the answer to the question.
But the host’s answer is much more complicated than you may have expected. To Richman, challenges involving heat are easier if the dish uses whole peppers rather than pepper extract. And as for quantity, Richman says they’re fine as long as there aren’t a ton of starchy ingredients. No matter the challenge, Richman says, there’s always a level of discomfort.
Richman powered through a major sickness for one episode
In one memorable episode, the Man v. Food host battled a 7-pound breakfast burrito at the Jack-n-Grill Cafe in Denver, Colorado. But according to a Q&A session he did in 2010, the host was also fighting another battle: He was powering through sickness.
Richman claims he had a 101-degree fever throughout the challenge, with a bronchial and sinus infection. And to make matters worse, the dish contained two things he hates: chunks of ham and green pepper. Richman noted that it was “truly a sucky experience.”
Richman couldn’t finish one of the smallest challenges
Man v. Food was known for its seemingly impossible challenges. Richman plowed his way through massive sandwiches and steak dinners throughout the seasons, but one seemingly small challenge surprisingly stumped the host. In Sarasota, Florida, Richman was tasked with the challenge of eating ten little chicken wings in 20 minutes at Munchies 420 Cafe, without drinking milk. But there was a twist.
The wings, called the “Fire In Your Hole,” were some of the hottest wings on the planet. Richman ate a couple of wings, but he quickly threw in the towel and ran to the back of the restaurant, spitting in his hands and holding back tears.
He couldn’t finish the show’s biggest challenge, either
Even with the help of 39 other ambitious eaters, Richman stood no chance against the “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger,” perhaps the most imposing food challenge on the planet. Located at Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Southgate, Michigan, the 190-pound beast is virtually impossible to finish.
The group of eaters managed to down 160 pounds of the total 190, but they still fell short of completion within the two-hour time frame. Since the episode aired, Mallie’s broke its own Guinness World Record, producing the world’s largest commercially available burger, which weighs 338 pounds and costs $2,000.
Richman’s favorite challenge will surprise you
For years, fans have wondered what the Man v. Food host’s favorite challenge was. Is it even possible to love a challenge designed to be near impossible, or almost torturous at the least? In 2015, those questions were finally answered. Richman did an AMA on Reddit and gave his fans a peek behind the curtain.
Richman’s favorite challenge may have come as a surprise to some. According to the host, his favorite was the Kodiak Arrest at Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse in Anchorage, Alaska. He had to eat a seven-course meal in 90 minutes or less. That’s six pounds of food!
Richman HATED this challenge
It’s fitting that the Man v. Food host loved a challenge on one side of the United States and hated one on the complete opposite side of the country. In Sarasota, Florida, Richman was tasked with a terrifying mystery challenge, which he failed miserably.
The mystery challenge involved ghost chili wings, and it’s rumored that the owner of the restaurant allegedly cheated. Nevertheless, the talented Richman made the episode entertaining as always — even with the odds allegedly stacked against him.
Some of the challenges have ruined food for the host
For some time, fans have wondered whether or not any of these insane food challenges have had an effect on Richman’s life. After all, participating in dozens of food challenges isn’t a typical thing to do for anybody. As it turns out, some food has been ruined for the host.
In an interview with Mirror, the Man v. Food host said one challenge in particular ruined food for him. At the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, Louisiana, Richman was tasked with the challenge of eating 15 dozen oysters. He says he may have had less than a dozen since the challenge. “It just turned me off,” he says.
The show popularized eating challenges around the world
Prior to Man v. Food, competitive eating challenges weren’t all that popular. But in today’s day and age, there are now thousands of food challenges out there. Since the show took the world by storm, fans have created websites to track all the competitive eating challenges around the world.
Between 2008 and 2015, the U.S. saw more than 2,000 competitive eating challenges pop up across the country. And as if that wasn’t enough, at least 15 countries around the world boast at least one restaurant that features a prominent eating challenge.
A social media tirade almost ruined Richman’s career
After his retirement from Man V. Food in 2012, Richman’s entire life changed drastically. The host lost just about 70 pounds in less than a year, and he seemed destined to host another show when the time was right. Eventually, he’d get that chance — but not before a social media tirade almost ruined his career.
In the summer of 2014, the former Man v. Food host went on a rant after he was called out for using the hashtag “thinspiration,” which is used by the pro-anorexia community. Richman’s rant was highly offensive, and in it he told one Instagram user to “grab a razor blade and draw a bath.”
Richman managed to bounce back from the incident
The Travel Channel pulled Richman’s next show, which was presumably a result of his tirade and antics off the screen. But the host managed to find work again, hosting NBC’s Food Fighters and making an appearance as a spokesperson for Walmart.
Neither of those jobs lasted long for Richman, but it was a redemption of sorts for the host. After all, he had fallen out of the public’s good graces. And eventually, the host’s canceled Man Finds Food made its debut on the Travel Channel under the name Secret Eats With Adam Richman in 2016.
NEVER ask Richman this question
As a popular television host, Richman is asked a lot of questions. That’s not always a bad thing, but it can get exhausting on occasion. In an interview with BroBible, the Man v. Food host made it clear which questions he just hates being asked.
“Bathroom questions,” he said. “You will get them from the most unusual sources … I always want to be like, ‘Why do you care?’” It might seem like a strange question to ask, but apparently fans ask about what goes on in the bathroom way more than Richman is comfortable having that discussion.
‘Man v. Food’ has its fair share of critics
No show escapes criticism, and that’s especially true with Man v. Food. Famous food critic Alton Brown is one of the show’s most prominent critics, because he feels the program is too gluttonous. In an interview with Zap2it, the critic raked Man v. Food over the coals with a scathing review.
“That show is about gluttony, and gluttony is wrong,” said Brown. “It’s wasteful. Think about the people that are starving to death and think about that show. I think it’s an embarrassment.” Richman expressed his disagreement with Brown’s assessment on Twitter, saying the show is about indulgence rather than gluttony.
Anthony Bourdain tore the show apart with a scathing critique
Brown wasn’t the only critic to go in on Man v. Food. The late chef Anthony Bourdain was very outspoken about his issues with Richman and the idea behind his show. At a 2015 comedy tour in Atlanta, Bourdain let fans know how he really felt about the show.
Bourdain asked the audience why they watched the show, following up with a hilarious punchline. “Admit it, you wanted him to die,” said Bourdain. The chef revealed the show’s popularity in the Middle East, loosely suggesting it caused a spike in ISIS recruitment. Imagining a fictional goat herder in Afghanistan, Bourdain said, “I know what he’s thinking, ‘America is a terrible place. I want to join ISIS.’”
Adam Richman’s retirement story isn’t what you’d expect
After Man v. Food came to a close, fans spent a ton of time speculating why the show eventually got the boot. But according to Richman, there wasn’t just one reason why the show came to an unfortunate close. For one, the host says the decision to end the show was his to make.
“The simplest way to put it is to say that the spectacle diminishes over time,” Richman told The Guardian in an interview. Some fans didn’t believe the host, even speculating he was forced into retirement by illness. However, Richman assures fans that this was not the case.
At one point, Richman became a vegan
In 2015, the former Man v. Food host decided to make a life-changing decision: He went vegan. But there’s more to the story of Richman’s decision to switch up his diet. He actually went vegan to prepare for a charity soccer game that raises money for UNICEF. But as it turned out, the host didn’t go totally vegan.
Richman only spent three months on the diet, and he wasn’t ever completely on a vegan diet. In an interview with The Independent, he said his diet was “just about picking and choosing (his) spots … When I want to have that cow and I wanna have that bacon, I’m going to make it count.” As it turned out, the internet rumor of Richman going vegan turned out to be false.
Richman posed for a nude photo shoot
The former Man v. Food host is wildly popular with fans, but Richman doesn’t seem like the first person who would come to mind when thinking about someone who would do a nude photo shoot. But in June 2014, Richman showed off his bod in an issue of the U.K.’s Cosmopolitan.
“To go from hating the way I looked to being a Cosmo centerfold is a profound honor,” Richman said of the spread. “If you’re a guy who’s always been the fun-to-be-around teddy bear, then all of a sudden people are viewing you as sexy, it’s nice.”
Filming took a long time, but it was a blast
There’s always a certain level of mystery when it comes to what goes into making a TV show or movie. Only people in the industry really understand the level of work and time it takes to create and produce something like Man v. Food. There’s also a ton that simply doesn’t make the final cut of the program.
New Jersey restaurant owner Mark Cohen spoke with The Independent about what went on during the filming of the show at his restaurant, The Chicken or The Egg. According to Cohen, the show was just as fun as it looked. “Adam made it easy,” Cohen said. “He was very friendly, genuine, and funny.” Cohen also says that publicity from the show was awesome for his restaurant.
Richman’s replacement was not a fan favorite
Man v. Food came to an end in 2012, but that wasn’t the end for the once-popular show. In 2017, the Travel Channel made a surprise announcement, letting fans know the show would be making a comeback. But when the network announced that Richman would not return as the host, fans went crazy.
Richman’s replacement was New Jersey native Casey Webb, who wasn’t quite a fan favorite. He had years of experience, working in restaurants since he was 15, but Webb wasn’t Richman — which is what fans had wanted. According to The Daily Meal, fans even started a petition to bring Richman back.
Richman had some choice words for his replacement
Social media doesn’t deal well with change, and fans weren’t the only people frustrated with the new host on Man v. Food. Richman didn’t directly address the issue, but some fans caught a glimpse of the former host’s feelings in the comment section of one of his Instagram posts.
According to FOODBEAST, Richman had a witty response to a fan who complained that the show wasn’t the same with the new host. “Replacement? Lol — nah,” said Richman. “Just someone driving a stolen car.” That’s a brutal burn toward Webb!
Richman is a massive soccer fan and sponsors a team
Fans may not know it, but soccer plays a major role in Richman’s life. The former host is a superfan of the sport, and he has suited up to play in celebrity charity matches on several occasions. Richman is a fan of the club Tottenham Hotspur, but that’s not his only involvement in the sport.
Richman is the sponsor of a U.K.-based amateur football club called Broadley FC. The club was founded in honor of Richard Broadley, a 20-year-old footy fan who passed away from leukemia in 2011. Richman’s sponsorship has helped the team pay for fees, kits, equipment, and more.
Richman knows the best way to beat heartburn
Trying to complete a bunch of competitive eating challenges sounds like a great way to get heartburn, so it only makes sense that the show’s former host would have a perfect solution to beat it. Richman told TODAY that it’s important to get out in front of the issue rather than deal with it later.
“It’s all about being proactive,” says Richman. “Everyone thinks I’m just shilling Zantac, but it’s really what I use.” In 2010, Richman did a stint as Zantac’s official spokesperson and even participated in a summer tour with the heartburn relief medication.