Foods Adam Richman Won't Eat

When Adam Richman graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2003 with his master's degree, it is unlikely that he knew that he'd become famous, not for acting in movies, but for turning comfort food dives all over the country into his own personal Roman gladiator-caliber contact sport areas. He did just that, and because he accepted so many food challenges as the original presenter of "Man v. Food," he ate lion-sized burritos for breakfast on his good days and got beaten like a wildebeest by spicy chicken wings at lunch on his bad days. He is "Man v. Food," even though he hasn't been central to the show since 2012. 

This isn't to say that he's hung up the trusty fork and admirable appetite that made him famous. Oh no. Nowadays, you can still find him chowing down in the name of all things foodie entertainment on "Adam Eats the 80's." Pizza Hut's pan pizzas, food court medleys, and Chuck E. Cheese restaurants are all in a day's work on his new show. Given that he has jumped from one foodie lovefest to another, you'd be forgiven for asking if there's anything that Adam Richman wouldn't eat. As it turns out, Mr. Food Challenge himself has his own preference for foods he'd rather eat and foods he'd rather toss. Here's the scoop on all the foods that Adam Richman won't or can't eat.

Food is a no-go on fasting days

Adam Richman embraced fasting as a way to cope with the gargantuan amounts of food he had to eat during his "Man v. Food" days. In an age when the average YouTube feed is populated with hundreds of intermittent fasting videos, this ain't no thang, right? Skipping a meal or two is just par for the course nowadays. However, when Adam Richman started producing "Man v. Food" in 2011, the upward trend towards fasting and intermittent fasting had only just begun to seep into the collective consciousness. And for him, water fasting only came into his consciousness as a means to cope with the copious meals his job required after a convo with competitive eater Joey Chesnut. In other words, he avoided food on challenge days and took to stretching his tummy with water to make all those challenge bites fit in his stomach.

That said, Richman was no stranger to fasting before "Man v. Food" became a thing. He admits to fasting during Jewish holy days like Yom Kippur, which requires people to fast for 25 hours straight followed by a meal to break the fast. His most interesting Yom Kippur fast breaker was a four-decades-old "Star Wars" cookie at Rancho Obi-Wan in 2022 for the "May the Fork Be with You" episode of his show "Adam Eats The 80's."

He won't eat heavy foods on travel days

Here's a frightening stat for the foodie frequent flyers among us: According to Vogue India, the gas trapped in the human body can expand when we fly. Some stats indicate that the gas in our bodies expands by as much as 25% when we're jetting through the clouds, and heavy foods in the tummy make travel all the more uncomfortable because of the extra gas in the system. In light of that, it's best to think of our tummies as bird-sized on travel days, both before and during the flight, if we want to avoid the discomfort caused by all that excess gas. 

So, what's this got to do with foods Adam Richman won't eat? Just this: It appears that he learned this lesson while he was traveling and doing foodie challenges. He told The Sydney Morning Herald, "You need to eat very light on travel days." For him, that means sticking with foods that would make his mom proud. The Vogue article is a bit more specific about what that type of fare mom might approve of; fresh fruits like bananas, smoothies with almond milk, or some eggs offer good options for travel days. Adam Richman saves eating the heavy foods for when his feet are finally heavy on the ground, and he's ready to face a mountain of hot dogs (or what have you...). Otherwise, he's spending his travel days eating mom-approved food and very little of it.

He can't eat on the show and with the crew

You'd think that a man who has kept a food journal for years and who gets paid to eat until tacos fall out of his ears would say that the food aspect of his job is what he lives for. While Adam Richman is a foodie extraordinaire, he admits that he misses the show's social elements the most when he's not filming. He joked in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that he would eat with the crew at one point because "work calories didn't count." Undertaking supreme challenges like the mile-high Dagwood sandwich or a Texas-sized 72-ounce steak makes for a food-heavy day. However delicious as they might be, such overindulgences taught him the limits of what he could and couldn't eat on camera and off.

Nowadays, his approach to food on filming days is different. He avoids a second breakfast, or lunch as the case may be, with the crew. It's less social in the short term, but probably better for his health. As an additional silver lining, this practice means that the cheers he gets from fans during any future foodie challenge will be all the tastier because his tummy has more room to enjoy the delicious challenge and the camaraderie of the crowd.

Being at school or temple means he's kosher

Adan Richman's diet is a study in nutritional contrasts. On the one hand, he's known for devouring foods like the 2-foot banh mi sandwich and all the marinated pork and pork shoulder therein during a foodie challenge. On the other hand, he's a person who's well aware of his Jewish heritage, which includes rules about eating kosher. However, given his career of choice, his feelings about subsisting on a diet of gefilte fish alone are nuanced, to say the least. In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, he explained his decision to eat kosher primarily at school and at synagogue this way: "I feel like God is too big to fit into any one definition."

More plainly speaking, he believes in many of the fundamental tenets of his faith, including being a good person and being generous at temple. He also made a pilgrimage to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. And he admitted on Instagram that he left the wall "feeling very different" than he had when he approached it. That he embraces non-kosher food may be attributed to the social aspect of food and, more specifically, to the connection he feels to others when he shares food during his travels. Wherever he goes, he has to try what's there. It's part of his foodie signature and one reason why his shows are so widely accessible. He once said, "Food is wholesome, good, and made by good people."

He doesn't eat trendy foods or do diets just because they're trendy

Foodie photo culture is a funny thing if you really think about it. Photos with hashtags like #paleodiet or #ketoweightloss signal to social media followers that the posters of such delicacies have something to say about their trendy lunch. For something that, at the end of the day, is really primarily a method to fuel our bodies, it's wild how food and trendy diets have become the stuff that social media trends are made of. This type of mindset goes against how Adam Richman has learned to think about food. Despite adhering to a modified eating schedule to lose up to 70 pounds, Adam Richman didn't and still doesn't believe in sacrificing taste and enjoyment or even following trends to achieve a healthy weight. He also believes that making judgments about the way other people eat also has no place in the food culture he wants to be a part of.

Instead of following diet trends that are difficult to sustain, he makes low-calorie substitutions to his favorite foods. Cauliflower makes pizza crust into something delish and good for him. Sweet potatoes all dressed up satisfy the cravings he might get for the kinds of carbs you'd find in a baguette-making French bakery. The substitutions he makes to create a healthier way of eating go beyond the diet du jour. It's all about consuming healthy food rather than "letting it consume him" (via Babbletop.)

Oysters are off the table

During the course of "Man v. Food," Adam Richman walked a tricky tightrope between beating the food challenge of the moment at any cost and turning his nose up at food that, if he had his druthers, he wouldn't touch with a mile-long stick. He also adhered to a strict policy of trying not to portray the food he ate or the establishments he ate at in a less-than-stellar light... at least not while he was getting paid to take up the fork of any foodie challenge. 

Once the show ended, however, he admitted he's no longer fond of downing oysters. And who can blame him? When he sat down to the oyster challenge at the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, Louisiana, the job in front of him was to wolf down 180 oysters in 60 minutes or less. His tools? A lot of sauce and a teeny-weeny oyster fork that looked like a Ken-doll-sized version of the pitchfork from Grant Wood's "American Gothic." Richman even went as far as calling the mountain of oyster-laden plates his "Everest."

In the end, he conquered that beast. But when the crowd started calling for "two dozen more," the toll of the challenge came to the surface when he let loose a string of colorful adult retorts indicating that he certainly did not feel up to eating more oysters.

Ham and green chili peppers are also no-nos

When it comes to Adam Richman's dislike of ham and green chili peppers together in a dish, it's difficult to say if it's the combo of the ham and peppers that makes him sick (though he has said in general, he detests those two foods together), or the fact that the ham and peppers in question once came to him in a 7-pound burrito stuffed like a kitschy 1980s couch on steroids. A dozen eggs, a bucket of taters, a pound of porky ham, an onion, and enough green chilis to make the Tin Man blow steam out his spout for an hour made up the food-of-the-day challenge in Denver, Colorado. 

The Jack-n-Grill Grande Breakfast Burrito became a local food-challenge staple in 2003. Only one-in-20 people, as of the time of the "Man v. Food" challenge, claimed their spot on the wall of fame in the restaurant and earned food for life. Adam Richman only managed to down about two-thirds of the burrito before calling it quits on the challenge and likely permanently cementing his dislike of chunks of ham and peppers in the process. 

It didn't help that during that challenge, the "Man v. Food" host and champ admits to being extremely sick — like, a temperature of 101 degrees sick — on the day that he tried to scale a mountain of potatoes, eggs, green chili peppers, and ham with nothing but an ounce of courage and a restaurant-issue fork.

Forget chawanmushi

Cultural delicacies are interesting. For example, word has it that some visitors to the U.S. think that peanut butter is "vile," corn dogs are indecency, and that the expression "best thing since sliced bread" makes no sense. We bring all this up to remind our dear readers that when it comes to the foods we grew up with — the foods we believe represent the best of us — there are those who think these American delicacies are, at best, "meh," and at worst, vomit inducing. This attitude isn't limited to foreign visitors. Plenty of Americans, like Adam Richman, don't like the cultural delicacies from other shores, even if it's their job to love such things, or at least pretend to.

For Richman, the dish in question is a Japanese dish called chawanmushi. In principle, it shouldn't be an issue; it's just savory egg custard in a cup. However, there is an addition — a garnish on top, if you will – Shirako, usually called milt in America, which essentially comes from the manhood of male codfish, or occasionally from squid, salmon, or pufferfish. In all fairness, this delicacy in cooking isn't limited to appearing as a topping on a fluffy, eggy custard — it's sometimes raw or tempura-fried, probably with much pomp and circumstance to go along with it. Among the toughest "Man v. Food" challenges ever, eating Shirako ranked right up there among those Richman wouldn't try again.

He won't be going for jellied eels anytime soon

Anyone who has done any kind of fishing knows the dreaded trash fish in the local fishing hole. For example, in America's Northwest, there is the suckerfish, with its gigantic lips, bottom-of-the-pond taste, and 100-year lifespan. They're also ugly, ever-present, and will lick the bottom of any pond clean given enough time. Trash fish are so called because fishermen usually send them to the proverbial trash if they catch them because, for myriad reasons, these fish are believed to be a nasty addition to any dinner table menu.

Some fishermen also consider eels to be trash fish. To be sure, they have some qualities that might put them in that category. They're ugly, snake-like creatures with slimy, seemingly scaleless skin. Despite having gills, they can also live on land for a time – hours, in fact. All this adds up to eels deserving the description that Adam Richman gave them — something out of the movie "Alien" with Sigourney Weaver. To be fair, he didn't say that because of their ability to breathe air, but because the jellied eels he was forced to eat during a challenge looked like something out of a space opera horror movie. The jelly they're served in looks like "Dippity-Do" hair gel, according to Richman. They also had crunchy bones that made the whole dish hard to swallow on multiple levels.

Fire In Your Hole wings defeated him

Some hot peppers should come with a warning label, like, "Caution: May be hot. Sometimes used in police grenades. Write your will before eating. On second thought, don't eat." Such is the case for ghost chili peppers, which make the lowly Jalapeňo taste like something out of a Gerber jar on a good day. And during one "Man v. Food" challenge, unbeknownst to Adam Richman, the chef at the Munchies 420 Cafe in Sarasota, Florida, decided that putting a whole bottle of the ghost pepper extract into the show host's 10-wing challenge plate was a good idea.

The challenge is called "Fire in Your Hole," and the gist of it is the challenger agrees to try to eat 10 hot wings without drinking anything for the duration of the challenge. Until the Carolina Reaper came along, the ghost chili was considered the hottest chili in the world. It should also be noted that the addition of the extra chili extract was done on the sly, making it a cheat for the restaurant at best and a dangerous risk at worst. In fact, the chilis nearly closed off the show host's nose and throat. And for people who have certain underlying conditions, eating too much of these chilis can bring on seizures and heart attacks, and even death on some occasions. Needless to say, it is a challenge that Adam Richman doesn't remember as one of his most enjoyable.

He has avoided meat to get into shape

While most people know "Man v. Food" as the show that made Adam Richman really famous, it might as well have been called "Adam v. Meats." He's eaten big burgers, ham-filled burritos, jellied eels, and all-American hot dogs, all in the name of meeting the show's foodie challenges. But it's not just that he's a meat lover. Dishes with thick layers of cheese and gallons and gallons of creamy milkshakes filled with lots of ice cream and milk have also been fair game. In other words, he doesn't have a problem eating foods that are associated with living, sometimes mooing, sometimes oinking things.

In light of this, it may come as a surprise to those who have followed his career for some time to learn that he went vegan — as in, he ate no meat and no dairy — when he wanted to indulge in his other passion: soccer.  More specifically, he committed himself to a charity soccer match, Soccer Aid, which raises money for UNICEF. The decision to take up the vegan lifestyle for a time was to help him better train for the event. However, even he admitted that the decision to go vegan for the soccer challenge doesn't mean that all food challenges are off the table somewhere down the line. We may yet see him downing more big burritos and Dagwood sammies in the future.