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June 07, 2012 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-06-07

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arts entertainment

Adam Richman in front

of Slows Bar B-0, holding
the Detroit restaurant's
Yardbird smoked Amish
chicken breast sandwich

In his new Travel Channel series,
Adam Richman launches a nationwide quest
to find the best thing since sliced bread on sliced bread.

Alice Burdick Schweiger
Special to the Jewish News


dam Richman is once again
eating his way across the coun-
try. The former host of Man v
Food and Man V Food Nation is launch-
ing yet another original series on the
Travel Channel: Adam Richman's Best
Sandwich in America. It premiered with
back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6.
Richman will choose 30 sandwiches in
27 cities to compete for the title of "Best
Sandwich in America." In each episode, he
will visit a U.S. region and sample three
delectable sandwiches — one of them the
Yardbird at Slows Bar B-Q in Detroit.
Ultimately, Richman will choose one
iconic sandwich to represent each region;
and in March Madness style, the winners
will face off against one another to be
declared the "Best Sandwich in America" by
Richman during the show's one-hour finale.
"Everyone loves sandwiches — every
culture has sandwiches in its cuisine
says Richman. "Ifs what we brown-bag
for lunch. It's what restaurants put on the
map. It's what you can make with the most
minimal of ingredients or the most expen-
sive of ingredients; and the show, I have to
say, is one of the most fulfilling produc-
tions I've ever worked on!'
Richman has established the BITE scale,
which is an acronym for Bread, Interior,
Taste and Eating Experience.
"That is essentially the barometer we
use for each sandwich:' he explains. The
quality of the bread, the originality and
quality of the ingredients inside the sand-
wich, the overall taste and eating experi-

ence —"how sloppy it is, how messy, how
supportable" — all come into play. "Does
it cool off too quickly, is it too hot to eat
and is it indicative of the region?"
Although his job requires diverse culi-
nary tastes, and he has sampled exotic
foods from around the world, Richman
still loves good, old Jewish cooking.
"I am a yeshivah boy:' says Richman,
who was born and raised in Brooklyn and
attended a Solomon Schechter day school.
"I am fluent in Hebrew, and I can read
Torah. My bar mitzvah wasn't your typical
Haftorah; I read a whole Shacharit ser-
vice. I wouldn't say I am a super-Jew. I eat
bacon and shellfish and date [non-Jews],
but my mom and dad created a Jewish
Richman grew up with all the typical
Jewish foods.
"We had the challah, ate hamantashen
on Purim and just like every Jewish boy, I
thought my mom's latkes and brisket were
the best. My Grandma Rose made gefilte
fish by hand:' he says.
One of Richman's sandwich selections
is from a Jewish delicatessen: the Corned
Beef and Pastrami at Katz's in New York
"The deli to me is a very sacred place
says Richman. "I love that this is my culi-
nary tradition because Eastern Europe
isn't a place where people seek out the
recipes — it's French and Italian more
commonly. So this is kind of a cool feather
in my culinary cap."
Richman, 38, has had a longtime pas-
sion for food. While a student earning
his undergraduate degree at Emory
University in Atlanta, he began keeping
a journal chronicling his dining experi-

Adam Richman and his mom light a

candle at his bar mitzvah.

ences. Deviating from a gastronomic path,
he decided to try acting. After graduating,
he worked in regional theaters in places
like Louisville, St. Louis and Cleveland. In
between acting jobs, he worked at kitchen
jobs, and his culinary expertise grew.
Eventually Richman went back to school
and earned a master's degree from the Yale
School of Drama. He nabbed parts on Law
& Order, The Guiding Light, the TV movie
My Ex Life (2006) and more.
In 2008, he heard the Travel Channel was
planning to develop a series about food and
was looking for a host. Richman landed an
audition and was called back to a second
audition, held at the above-mentioned
Katz's in New York City. He won the casting
directors over and wound up doing Man
v Food and Man v Food Nation, two food
shows for the Travel Channel that have
ended and no longer air. Best Sandwich is
his third for the same channel.
This connoisseur of good food lists his
mom, an educator, and his late dad, a law-
yer, among his greatest influences.
"My mom is equal parts hero and

best friend',' he says. "She is one of the
best cooks I know. She will experiment
with things. She will see a very compli-
cated, time-consuming or very high-end
gourmet-style recipe and do it her way.
My mother is the person by whose side I
cooked the most, whom I learned the most
"My dad used to say, 'If it weren't for
her beauty and intelligence, I would have
married her for her steak au poivre.' I don't
know how many Jewish boys would hear
that about their mom!"
Richman says his dad was a pretty for-
midable sandwich maker back in the day
when they cooked together. "Dad was a very
outside-the-box thinker and much like me,
embraced the diversity of NewYork and the
ability to get quality ingredients from many
different cultures."
He also credits his dad for his love of
food in general. "I think my dad's ethos of
you don't have to finish it — but you have
to try it — is a very special thing',' says
Richman. "I think that's a very cool thing
for a parent to instill in a child."
This entire process of hosting food
shows is a never-ending learning curve
for Richman, also the author of America
the Edible: A Hungry History, from Sea to
Shining Sea (Rodale; 2010).
"One of the best things about doing
this show and the others is that it's a
continuous source of new information:'
says Richman, who, because of his often-
essential food gorging, makes a point of
working out every day.
For his latest show, he has learned about
the order of ingredients placed into a
sandwich, different marinades, dry rubs
and ways to make coleslaw.
Richman has no doubt made a name for
himself, and his endorsements can trans-
late into more business. Slows Bar B-Q is a
case in point.
"After he came here the first time and
had the Triple Threat on Man v Food, that
sandwich sold like crazy," says Phillip
Cooley, one of the owners of Slows. "He's
a fun and respected food personality, and
it continues to be humbling to receive his
praise. We were most impressed by the
Adam off camera; he is very charitable
and engaging. When we met him, he was
equally excited to talk about the causes he
supports as he was about the Bar B-Q!'
After his current 11-episode, weekly
series ends, what's next up for Richman?
The possibilities are endless. "If I do this
kind of show again:' he says, "more than
likely I will choose something other than
the sandwich."
Could it be finding the best pasta?
Pizza? Burger? Bagel? We'll just have to
stay tuned. ❑

New episodes of Adam Richman's
Best Sandwich in America air 9 p.m.

Wednesdays on the Travel Channel.
Check your cable listings for
rebroadcasts of all episodes.

June 7 . 2012


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