Man with Secret Eats

American television host Adam Richman checks out Singapore eateries in his show

Food show host Adam Richman (above) does not like the Singapore Sling.
Food show host Adam Richman (above) does not like the Singapore Sling. PHOTO: TRAVEL CHANNEL


American television host Adam Richman is known for his daring food exploits - such as scarfing down 5kg burgers topped with bacon and cheese, and chicken wings marinated in hot sauces with names such as Devil's Blood and other monikers associated with hellfire.

From 2008 to 2012, the Brooklyn- based foodie was the host of Man v. Food, where he would take on eating challenges involving large quantities of food in restaurants across the United States. "People think that in real life, I eat like what I did in that show, that my typical meal consists of 17 pancakes and 20 strips of bacon," says Richman.

The 42-year-old was in Singapore in March to film an episode of his current show, Secret Eats With Adam Richman. It is in its second season and features hidden gems and off-the-menu items of eateries in places such as Hong Kong, the Philippines and South Africa.

The first episode, which airs on Friday, will feature Singaporean eateries such as Artichoke cafe in Middle Road.

The first season, titled Man Finds Food, was shot in the USand aired last year. Richman says: "Man Finds Food focused on the iconic places that the locals like. Secret Eats are the places that even the locals may not know about."

1 What do you think of the new name - Secret Eats with Adam Richman - for the show?

It says what's in the show and who is in it. I love that kind of honesty.

In the food television space with so many brilliant culinary minds, the reason I believe that there's a room for a cat like me - who doesn't have a line of cookware or restaurants in airports throughout the US - is simply that people have a better phony detector than a lot of presenters and programmes give them credit for. I love that the title has a kind of transparency to it.

2 Can you give an example of that transparency?

I've been with a big chunk of this crew since Man v. Food. They try the food too and sometimes they may have a more apt soundbite or description of the food than I do.

For example, we were tasting tamarind in Mexico City and our sound guy hit the nail on the head in terms of the description of the taste. His opinion is no less informed than mine, though he may not have a culinary background.

3 What do you hope to achieve with this show?

We want to make you feel like you're part of the club. Usually, you need to know a guy who knows a guy. Well, I'm the guy and now you know me, so let's go to the restaurant. And if it makes just one American not order a club sandwich from room service and try Hokkien mee or go "you know what, I'm going to try that chilli crab", then all the better.

4 Have you been to Singapore before this?

This is my second time. The first time I was here was six years ago, as a tourist. I went to Yale Drama School for my master's and graduated in 2003. One of the directing students was from Singapore. I remember he would bring bak kwa to rehearsals and it was the first time I had sampled that.

5 What advice would you give someone hoping to have a career like yours?

My dad - he died in 1998 when I was 23 - gave me Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. My stepmum gave me the book, The Renaissance Soul, by Margaret Lobenstine. Both books taught me that I couldn't just have an ambiguous goal.

I put myself on a five-year plan with goals such as "lose this weight" and "get this commercial". You need to set specific goals, have a realistic timeline and check if you did anything to work towards those goals on a daily basis.

6 How did you get your big break with Man v. Food?

I found out about the auditions through an agent I had signed with after Yale.

On my father's grave, the day before, I had written in my Moleskin book, "have a food television show". I still have that book.

When I got the audition notice from my agent, I sent him 12 e-mail messages with resumes, recipes and pictures of me cooking - just to get the audition.

7 Is there any food you irrationally hate ?

Any food I dislike is completely based on my palate.

My dad used to say this to me and I tell this to everybody: You don't have to finish it, but you should at least try it.

By the way, that does not apply to the Singapore Sling. I took a sip of that death water... That hatred is completely rational. Don't try it.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

A good guy who never sought to do any harm, was loyal to his friends, who fought for the underdog and considered himself very blessed to live a life far beyond his own dreams.

•Secret Eats With Adam Richman premieres on Travel Channel (StarHub Channel 473 and Singtel TV Channel 253) on Friday at 9.30pm.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline Man with Secret Eats. Subscribe