Adam Richman,TV personality, culinary traveler, cook and author, travels so much for his shows such as “Secret Eats with Adam Richman,” that I wondered if he ever woke up in the morning and wasn’t sure where he was.
“Yes I do,” Richman tells me. “In fact, one time, it was the strangest/saddest/weirdest sensation I’ve ever had. I woke up at home and didn’t know where I was. My first thought was, ‘This must be one of those old boutique hotels that they renovated an apartment to make.’ I honestly did not even recognize my own home. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, but I wouldn’t change up the opportunities I have and have been given for anything.”
Expect him, though, to know what he is demonstrating when he’s in front of a crowd because Richman is totally into making cooking accessible to everyone.
A while back I caught up with Richman at the KitchenAid Fairway Club where he was doing a cooking demo when Harbor Shores, a Signature Jack Nicklaus golf course on Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, Michigan was the venue for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
“The recipes are simple but deeply delicious, and each dish can be used for multiple purposes: the salmon can be by itself, or served a top a salad,” Richman says about what has become almost his mantra and why his cookbooks and shows such as “Secret Eats with Adam Richman” and “Man vs. Food.” He now is starring in Matchday Menus, a brand new series on Facebook where he uses football stadium food to explore some of the coolest places in the world. It started three weeks ago and already has almost 3.5 million followers.
As for the golfing aspect of the tournament, I asked Richman if he played.
“I was actually on my high school team,” he says “I have not played in ages, and I cannot imagine how my game has suffered as a result of that. I still enjoy the driving range quite a bit, but most of all, my favorite thing about opportunities like this is to meet the people that watch my shows and enjoy the things I do. Because this way, I can give people more of what they want, and find out what else they are interested in that I have yet to explore.”
Exploring—whether it’s the backroads and city streets in the United States or internationally—is what Richman’s shows are all about. How did he decide where to go for shows such as “Secret Eats with Adam Richman?”
“The locations for the international season were decided by the network–at least in terms of the cities,” he explains. “Because my shows have had a significant and very fortunate degree of international success, they wanted to film in cities where my shows already had a foothold. In terms of the establishments with in those cities, I am blessed to work alongside an amazing team of storied producers, and I have a great director and show runner. We all do research for a couple of months and then meet with the places we have for each city. It’s actually quite a bit of fun. Everybody is trying to out-secret each other. Everybody tries to find the coolest place, the coolest hidden dish and so on. Ultimately, we look over everything that everyone has brought in, and then try to figure out what makes the best four location episode that really represents the city.”
Richman says he’s flattered people call him a chef but says he thinks there’s something academic and studious to the word chef.
“I think of myself—excuse the expression—as a badass cook,” he says. “I may not be a chef, but I’ve worn clogs a few times and baggy checkered pants.”
The latter clothing list is a nod to Mario Batali, the embattled restauranteur/TV food star/cookbook author who was known for his orange Crocs, hair pulled back into a ponytail and oversized shorts and patterned pants.
“It used to be if you had a sheath of tattoos up and down your arm, you were a biker,” he continues. “Now it means you can cook a great pork belly.”
His cooking demonstrations include a lot of digressions as well as action while he’s talking. Slicing a lemon with a mandolin, he tell us about how to avoid taking a slice out of your hand, sharing the story of an incident where he did just that and then lamenting it was too bad, he wasn’t making marinara sauce in order to cover up the accident. There’s advice against cooking with wine we wouldn’t drink and adding oil to an unheated pan.
It’s a science thing about the latter, he says, adding it’s important to heat the pan first. That’s because the longer fats cook, the quicker they’ll break down and start to burn impacting both the taste and even releasing harmful toxins.
How do you know when the pan is hot enough to add oil? Richman shows how but holding his pan close to the surface—really closed.
“My mother hates when I do that,” he says, noting that less perilously, splashing a drop or two of water in the pan and seeing if it sizzles also works.
There are so many cookbooks on the market, what do you tell me people about why they should buy yours.? I ask.
“That it is approachable, nonthreatening, and there is something in Straight Up Tasty for everyone, regardless of their level of experience in the kitchen,” he says. “I aim to introduce people to flavors, ingredients, and maybe even techniques that they have not used in their kitchens before. I want people to use my recipes as a point of departure for them to then tweak and customize to make them their own. Above all, I want people to have fun. It’s not just recipes – there are poems, essays, even lists of great restaurants to check out that I have discovered in my travels.”
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup miso paste (yellow or mild works well with the vegetables here)
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 beets, peeled and cubed
2 12-ounce bags of broccoli florets
2 Spanish onions, cubed
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
¼ cup garlic powder (not granulated garlic) or more to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
2. In a large bowl, combine the oil and the miso. Add the sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, onions, and garlic cloves and toss to coat.
3. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and add about ¼ inch of water. Add the vegetables to the pan. Dust everything with the garlic powder. Cover the whole dish with aluminum foil.
4. Roast the vegetables for 50 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the veggies, and cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and beets are fully covered. Serve hot or warm.
Smoked paprika onion rings
3 Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion), peeled
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
3 TBS sweet smoked paprika
Vegetable or peanut oil, for deep frying
Kosher salt to taste
1. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the onions into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Separate the rounds into rings.
2. Place the flour, beaten eggs, and panko in three separate shallow bowls. Mix a tablespoon of paprika in each bowl.
3. Dredge the onion rings first in the flour, then in the eggs, and finally in the panko. Place the dredged rings on a baking sheet and allow the coating to set for 10 minutes.
4. In a large pot set over medium-high heat, bring about 4 inches of oil to 365 degrees (use a deep-frying or candy thermometer to check the temperature).
5. Line a separate baking sheet with paper towels. Working in batches, fry the onion rings until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. When done, the rings should float to the surface of the oil. Transfer each batch of fried rings to the prepared baking sheet and season with salt.
6. Keep the finished onion rings warm under layers of paper towels as you cook the remaining batches. Serve hot.
Win-the-bake-sale chocolate cake
1 box of Betty Crocker SuperMoist Butter Recipe Chocolate Cake Mix
3 large eggs
½ cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
1 can of store-bought chocolate frosting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, eggs, 1 cup of cold water, and the mayonnaise.
3. Pour the mixture into the greased cake pans and spread with a spatula to smooth. Bake according to package instructions. When done, remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool completely.
4. Invert one of the cake layers onto a plate. Using a rubber spatula, spread a thick layer of frosting over the top. Carefully invert the other cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
Recipes courtesy of Adam Richman.