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Adam Richman brings World Food Championships to Vegas

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Adam Richman

He’s no longer subjecting his body to Man vs. Food trauma, but Adam Richman remains deeply immersed in the food scene. This week he comes to town as the host of the World Food Championships.

Some people may not be aware that you’re a trained actor. IMDb lists your first role as “Butcher God” on Joan of Arcadia? Given that, do you think it’s some kind of divine intervention that you now have a career based around food? You know, I think perhaps (laughs). Maybe when I auditioned they were like “There’s something about this guy that seems both divine and meat-worthy.”

How often do you get to Vegas? Not as often as I’d like, just because of my shooting schedule. Generally speaking, during production I’m home at most three to four days a month. Especially with the [Best Sandwich in America] show, it necessitated going to three cities per episode. In a 10-episode season, you do the math. That plus wild cards ends up being 35 locations. I’ve been here about four times, including this time. I’ve been really, really looking forward to doing [the World Food Championships] simply because it gives me the chance to get a little more immersed in the culture here. I’m excited to come here and explore.

The Details

World Food Championships
November 1-4, times and prices vary.
Bally’s, Caesars Palace and Paris; worldfoodchampionships.com.

What kind of food do you like to eat? I love sushi. I’m a big sushi fan. I love Asian cuisine in general but I definitely love sushi. I love ramen. I love tacos. I even love that new sort of comfort, sort of seasonal dishes.

I understand you famously have a journal of where you’ve eaten. Do you still maintain it? I do, I do. Generally it tends to chronicle places that have been recommended to me, although I do tend to take significant notes on places I’ve been. I’m slowly building up my website and putting recommendations there. It’s really fledgling right now but I hope to eventually make a directory on my website of places I like, and honestly, places I don’t. I don’t ever want to besmirch the reputation of a small business, especially in this economic climate, but sometimes you’ve got to speak your mind.

What do you generally write in it? I write it like a diary entry. When I went. How I felt. The time of day. What had been going on in my life. The waitress: her demeanor and was she cute? The music that was playing. The types of tables. The options. Who sat nearby. Everything. Parking. Valet. I write about my experience but I write it like a journal. It allows me the freedom to use words and terms and a type of writing style that’s not necessarily Zagat guide. It gives me all the reference points I need but it’s a little bit more transportive if I write exactly where I was at, because then I remember everything. But also, it gives a framework to know if my perception was at all tainted. So if I knew I was two days out of a really bad breakup, then I probably need to give that restaurant another day in court if I was a little bit crabby.

Do you get to draw upon the journal for your shows? That’s the nice part of doing the World Food Championships. I do draw upon my journal for the show for recommendations. As a matter of fact, a great number of the competitors in the sandwich category are from my journal. People that I’ve asked to judge or be a part of the demo cycles related to the festival are people that I’ve met on my travels. Honestly, even recipes that I’ve done in demos have come from my journal because sometimes I’ll ask chefs for the recipes and put them in the journal. You can take pictures of the food and that’s one thing, but there’s nothing like the written word to encapsulate the experience.

How’d you get involved in the World Food Championships? Obviously if you think of any type of food competition, I’m one of the better known personalities globally associated with that, although this is of a cooking nature rather than a consumption one. I’ve actually been a part of much smaller scale competitions of a culinary nature sponsored by smaller markets in the midwest, but never anything on this grand of a scale. I think that if you’re going to do something like this, you need someone who knows these foods on a regional scale. After all, it’s made me the man that I am today! I think it’s because (a) I do know the food world and I certainly know the entertainment world, but (b) the foods that are focused on in the World Food Championships are really the foods that we all sort of know and love. It’s not that sort of inside haute cuisine. We’re talking about burgers, barbecue, sandwiches, side dishes, chili... different sorts of recipes based upon chef’s skill sets and some things that are immediately translatable.

Who should attend the World Food Championships? Everyone! I mean, that’s the greatest thing about it. There are up to 450 competitors, but it’s not all professional chefs. We’re talking Average Joes with really cool recipes to battle-hardened barbecue veterans. The other thing I really love about it, besides that the field really does represent pros to Joes, is that the first two days of the event are completely free. Friday and Saturday are free and open to the public. The opportunity to give someone in Nevada the chance to try, in one setting, barbecue from North Carolina, Texas, Arkansas, Memphis and St. Louis is super-special and extraordinarily rare.

Is there one competition you’re most looking forward to? Oh, barbecue! I love sandwiches and I’m really stoked to see them … but I’m most looking forward to the barbecue competition. It’s essentially a religion, and to see Oklahoma battle Kansas battle Arkansas battle Texas will be great—to know that the same dry rub on the same protein with a different wood results in a different dish. Besides, Myron Mixon is actually doing demos, so it’s kind of like Yoda showing you how to use the Force.

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