Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and Secret Eats with Adam Richman, will be heating things up at GrillHampton on July 22 at Fairview Farm in Bridgehampton. Top chefs will take sides as Team Hamptons competes against Team NYC in a one-of-a-kind cooking competition and tasting event. Enjoy the expertly grilled fare, beer and specialty cocktails, then be part of the action as you, and a judging panel of A-list palates, cast votes for the finest food of the night.
Richman tells us, “Honestly, and this will sound like a joke—especially because I’m a native New Yorker—I’ve never had the chance to experience the Hamptons during the summer. I know that it’s a rite of passage as a New Yorker, and I have many friends that go out to the Hamptons regularly. I’m excited to find out what the buzz is about firsthand.”
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s GrillHampton?
It’s a chance to work with Pat LaFrieda. That guy is a class act in all that he does. I love him and would go to the ends of the earth to collaborate with him. He and I put together a great food event for veterans a few years back and we make a great partnership.
GrillHampton is a grill-off between Team Hamptons and Team NYC. Who’s going to win, and why?
You’re trying to get me in big trouble! I’m definitely not going to opine or speculate about who will win. And to be truthful, I haven’t had a chance to experience all the culinary awesomeness that the Hamptons has to deliver. Of course, being a Brooklyn kid, I’m naturally going to be biased towards the Big Apple. I think it’s best to go out there with an open mind and let the food speak for itself.
What advice can you give Team Hamptons and Team NYC as they head the competition?
Be original, be creative, but never at the expense of flavor. Just because it seems like a great idea to add something, or 13 different somethings, doesn’t mean it will make for the best final product. Creativity for creativity’s sake can kill a good recipe—even something as simple as a hamburger. No matter how creative I’ve seen competitors get—across borders, skill levels, and all different types of competitions—the winners always have solid fundamentals: meat is cooked to the perfect temperature, sauces deliver the right amount of punch, starches, veggies and proteins all work together. Everything comes together perfectly in the best dish, whether it’s a simple plate of barbecue or a plate I judged on Iron Chef.
You’re stranded on an island with a personal chef who can only make two things…
Can he make a radio and a canoe? I don’t care if he does it out of chocolate or bacon, but I want to get the hell off of that island!
If I had to choose, it might be one savory thing, and one sweet thing. Maybe he’s a really kick-ass pizza chef and someone who makes amazing homemade ice cream. That way I can have variety within the form but still within that chef’s expertise. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Then again, I’m on an island—I have lots of time to think…
What was the toughest ‘Man v. Food’ challenge you’ve endured?
To be truthful, they all sucked. In different ways, I grant you. But every food challenge was a challenge for a reason. The one spicy one that I lost, which we later found out was largely caused by the owner cheating (he had forgotten that his microphone was still on, and he said “Let’s double the amount of ghost chili extract in the recipe to really get him!”), was awful.
You have a degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama. How has that informed your cooking and hosting?
In terms of my cooking, I think most graduate students would agree that you learn to make do with very little and you have to learn to stretch ingredients very far. I think sadly this is something that a lot of the nation can relate to considering the current economic situation. In terms of hosting, it’s been incredibly helpful and impactful. Knowing how to push narrative and move the story along, breath support and really hitting ideas and key phrases both on camera and voiceover, as well as basic on-camera comportment, getting sound bites with an eye towards editing and post production, and having a real on-camera awareness have all been offshoots of my training as a performer at Yale. Every segment has to be a story, even if that story’s only about a sandwich.
If you weren’t cooking or acting, what would you be doing?
Going mad wishing I were cooking or acting! I’ve always enjoyed graphic design, and have pretty solid abilities as a writer, so I might have pursued one of those avenues. Plus, my major was International Studies and I speak French and Hebrew. There was a really significant period of time in my life where I considered joining the Foreign Service.
What’s your ideal summer beverage?
Iced tea. Can be spiked, can be virgin. Will always be awesome. Anything that gets along so well with bourbon and vodka can’t be that bad!
In your opinion, what sandwich or meal best embodies the spirit of the Hamptons?
As someone who has never been to the Hamptons, I think I’m kind of speaking out of turn! But based upon the experiences of those near and dear to me, as well as my own knowledge of the place, I would have to say: Probably some kind of Long Island oyster, dredged in some complex spice mixture and panko, with champagne pickled onion relish, Nori seaweed aioli, on a toasted buttered brioche roll (that nobody eats because, you know, carbs) served with a side of taro and sweet potato fries and a glass of prosecco. Probably with silverware that has a driftwood handle and a stylishly weathered gingham napkin.
What kind of food do you like during a Yankees game?
It’s crazy how the food at ballparks has changed. I was fortunate enough to experience Yankee Stadium’s Legends Suites, and they have crab legs and lobster! At a Yankees game! Crazy.
I like a good Italian sausage with peppers and onions, or an old-school ballpark hotdog. I am a big fan of the peanuts in the shell and possibly the soft pretzel. A few years ago I went to Yankee Stadium and had pretty great garlic french fries. Tried them again recently and they were, how do you say…oh yes, crappy.
You’ve also worked in the U.K. What’s the main difference, culinary-wise, between them and us?
They have a fascination with our comfort food that we do not reciprocate. I think a lot of this has to do with a lack of knowledge of British comfort food, not just a lack of quality, which is what I think most people perceive.
The “ethnic” foods in the U.K. are what I look for the most: kebabs, great Szechuan in Chinatown, and of course phenomenal Indian curries. There’s a great deal of fine dining to be found, but they don’t have the same late-night or take-out options that we do in the U.S. And, much like we may never be on equal footing when it comes to fish and chips, how are they ever going to make a better bagel than Brooklyn? Or a better slice of pizza than New York?
I love the fact that people in the U.K. use adjectives that we use for people, for their food. For example: nice, lovely, gorgeous. I absolutely love it. Generally speaking, they have better chocolate and they have better chips—but make sure you call them crisps there.
What’s your dream acting role?
Wow. Super difficult question. Right now, I’m currently obsessed with auditioning for Hamilton when it comes to England. I can actually sing, and those who know me know that I can spit a verse or three. I’m well aware that the production has been groundbreaking with the racial diversity in its casting, which is absolutely fantastic. And I think I know what my chances are going into it, but when I have a goal, I’m pretty tenacious. It’s not about getting the role—it’s the journey to be ready for the audition! Even just to get in the room would be amazing. Apart from that, within the Shakespeare canon: Hotspur, The Scottish King, Benedick, and Lago are favorites—and what actor doesn’t want to play Hamlet at least once?
I think it would be a trip to play Stanley Kowalski [in A Streetcar Named Desire], Charlie Fox in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, or even Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man.
Is there anything you absolutely would not eat, and why?
Maraschino cherries are the work of the devil. I guess the real ones are okay, but those artificial glow-in-the-dark red ones were made in a laboratory in Hell to punish the taste buds of the damned.
Also, potted meat, raw green peppers, sardines and anchovies in the can, as well as those small chunks of ham that they have in things like a Denver omelet, are near-medieval forms of torture that should be outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. I also kind of hate Cap’n Crunch, though I do respect their insistence on the abbreviation and the apostrophe.
And the black licorice thing? When someone tells me they like black licorice and things of that flavor, it’s like when people tell me they prefer winter to warm sunny days. I understand it, intellectually, as a preference, but I totally judge you as a bizarre and potentially mad person for putting it in your mouth and receiving joy from it.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be shooting a few specials based on the show that I just shot the second season for, Man Finds Food on the Travel Channel—which has been retitled in the U.S. as Secret East with Adam Richman.
It focuses on hidden restaurants, and I mean really hidden: behind a bookcase in the youth hostel, a pop-up you can only go to if a stranger taps you on the shoulder and hands you a pocket watch indicating the time of your reservation and the location of the restaurant. As well as off-menu dishes: amazing delicacies that you can only order if you know about the secret menu, have the password for, or are just one of the lucky few in-the-know.
Season One was domestic, whereas Season Two was shot all over the world, from Soweto Township in South Africa, to Saigon, to the little town of Frascati outside of Rome.
True to my theater roots, I recently produced a play off-Broadway in New York that won a few awards. We’re currently taking the production to London where it will open a week before GrillHampton. It’s called Stalking the Bogeyman, and is based on a true story that the author heard on This American Life. It’s pretty heavy—deals with a story of abuse—but we’ve partnered with SurvivorsUK and are using it as an opportunity for real outreach to those that have been affected.
I also have a couple of books in the works, and hope to continue the charity work that I’ve recently begun with Clear Path for Veterans.
Oh yes! And I’ve heard great things about this “sleeping” that some people are doing. I would very much like to try it.
Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton hosted by Adam Richman on Friday, July 22 and continues on Saturday, July 23, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli, both on the waterfront at Fairview Farm at Mecox in Bridgehampton. VIP tickets for GrillHampton are $185 and offer early access to the event beginning at 7 p.m. General Admission, from 8 p.m.–10:30 p.m., is $135. VIP tickets for Taste of Two Forks are $295 and offer early access beginning at 6:30 p.m. General Admission, from 7:30 p.m.–10 p.m., is $185.
The oceanfront food and drink fest ClambakeMTK at Gurney’s Montauk hosted by Marc Murphy and Eden Grinshpan premieres on Saturday, July 30. General Admission for ClambakeMTK, from 7:30–10 p.m., is $150. VIP tickets are $250, and include access to the after-party from 10 p.m.–12 a.m.
Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian, is Saturday, August 20, at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. VIP tickets for Harvest East End are $285 and offer early access beginning at 6:30 p.m. General Admission, from 7:30 p.m.–10 p.m., is $135.
A portion of this year’s ticket proceeds from GrillHampton and Taste of Two Forks will benefit All For The East End (AFTEE), a 501(c)(3) that showcases and provides support to the more than 1,000 charity organizations in the five East End towns. A portion of proceeds from Harvest East End benefits Long Island Farm Bureau and HRHCare.
To purchase tickets and get more info on all Dan’s Taste of Summer events, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.