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As the host of Travel Channel’s much-missed food-porn series Man V. Food, Adam Richman resonated mostly as a circus attraction, his hosting essentially boiling down to alliterative narration, Bill Cosby impressions, and the listing of ingredients in lieu of actual culinary insight. But, as his appearance on First We Feast’s Hot Ones reflects, Richman’s come a long way over the last several years. He’s hosted more shows, written some cookbooks, and gained back the trust of his intestines. As he cycles through a number of the show’s signature sauces, Richman artfully (and articulately) pontificates on the flavors and how he would incorporate them into dishes of his own. You’d hardly believe it’s the same guy.

He’s also brimming with stories from his Man V. Food tenure, and they’re predictably enjoyable. He breaks down his weirdest food challenges, the ones of which he’s most proud, and, in a particularly interesting anecdote, the time one a hot wings challenge almost killed him. Basically, the chef at a Sarasota spot dumped a surplus load of ghost chili extract into a batch of hot sauce in an effort to “blow him out,” and that’s exactly what happened. Richman remembers lying on a bathroom floor, his tongue and nasal passages dangerously swollen. “They weaponized ghost chili extract in police grenades in India,” he reminds us.


That experience didn’t deter him from spice, however, as Richman does a fine job of handling these sauces while speaking on his love of hip-hop, sneakers, and sports in between bites. Well, until he tackles the show’s hottest offering, which leaves him drooling. “I’m like the dog in Turner and Hooch right now,” he says. It won’t encourage your appetite any, but it may make you want to revisit that old Travel Channel gem.