Adam Richman became a household name as Travel Channel's affable adventurer with an encyclopedic knowledge of America's quirkiest eateries and most gut-busting food challenges.
But the lifelong Brooklyn resident also holds a master's degree from the Yale School of Drama, quotes classic literature with ease, and harbors as much of an affinity for the art and architecture of the cities he visits as he does for the cuisine.
So when Richman was scouting a new show concept that would allow him to celebrate the cultural heart and soul of America via food without having to put away six pounds of meat in the process, he came up with an ingeniously simple solution. The result is "Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America," premiering Wednesday, June 6, which he calls his search for "the best thing since sliced bread on sliced bread."
"I love the idea of food as language," he tells Zap2it. "And I think the sandwich is this one analog -- whether it's gyros or torta or shawarma or falafel or whatever -- there's some variant that spans the gamut and actually speaks to your cultural identity. I love that stuff! I love that this kind of classic art form or meal form still exists. And again, it's a chance to spotlight the city, its people and its traditions using an iconic, popular food as the point of departure."
To select -- and then narrow -- his field of contenders, the avid sports fan says he approached the task like a college hoops tournament. Ten regions, three sandwiches per region (some on the recommendation of famous friends) and one winner from each area. The 10 regional champs, plus two fan-selected wild cards, will duke it out for the Best Sandwich title in a live one-hour special.
As for the clever T-shirts and trendy jackets -- all from Richman's own closet -- that made up his signature wardrobe throughout "Man v. Food," Richman says he'll try something new for "Best Sandwich."
"First of all, I'm 40 pounds lighter than when I finished 'MvF,' and I'm very proud of that, so if you got it, you flaunt it," he says, laughing. "And I'm a bit of a clotheshorse, so I try to change it up. But I'm not Karl Lagerfeld eating a French dip. Just Adam, lover of sandwiches, who is on a quest to find the best. And I want to take you with me."
What are three must-haves in your fridge or pantry?
"In the fridge without question, sriracha, Ito En green tea and dark chocolate. In the pantry, Maldon sea salt, good extra-virgin olive oil and even better peanut butter."
If your television only carried three shows, which would you pick?
When was the last time you were star-struck?
"Meeting Jamal Crawford in the locker room tunnel after a Portland Trail Blazers game. Such a gentleman. Such a great guy!"
Photo/Video credit: Travel Channel