Food & Drink

Man v Food star Adam Richman says ‘people slag off’ British food around the world

The TV host is making his way across Britain, with a map in hand, in order to sample its culinary delights.

Adam Richman’s latest show, Adam Richman Eats Britain, explores British cuisine
Adam Richman Adam Richman’s latest show, Adam Richman Eats Britain, explores British cuisine

Renowned for his passion for food and appetite for outrageous eating feats, Man v Food star Adam Richman has embarked on a culinary journey across the British Isles – “as a love letter” to British cuisine.

Armed with a map of the UK, the Brooklyn-based food expert and chef is attempting to shed light on the “globally misunderstood” and “unfairly maligned” realm of British cuisine – for a new Food Network UK show, Adam Richman Eats Britain.

“I think globally British food is largely misunderstood and maybe unfairly maligned… we acknowledge Spain’s impact on food, Japan’s impact on food, Italy’s impact on food – all of which are profound – but people slag off Britain,” says the 49-year-old.

Adam Richman wants to shine a light on British cuisine.
Photo of Adam Richman Adam Richman wants to shine a light on British cuisine.

“Then you stop and you go, the sandwich has roots here, Cheddar has roots here, Angus beef has roots in Britain.

“So, what’s cool is using this sort of map as my menu, as a device, and saying, ‘I’m going to go to Melton Mowbray for Melton Mowbray pie, or Bakewell for a Bakewell tart’.”

During his travels, Richman shares the culinary treasures he unearths with his audience, and highlights a quiche he believes may rank among the top ten dishes he has ever tasted.

He says: “In this little town called Langport, in Somerset, I had a quiche that is arguably in the top ten foods I’ve eaten in my lifetime, made by a woman named Mel and her two daughters in a bakery.”

Richman looking at a slice of mushroom quiche at Little Bakery
Richman looking at a slice of mushroom quiche at Little Bakery Richman looking at a slice of mushroom quiche at Little Bakery

As a first-generation immigrant in America, Richman celebrated Britain’s culinary diversity, praising the abundance of South Asian, African, and West Indian foods available on the island, saying: “I hope I was able to elevate those voices.

“Because let’s be honest, any country with an imperial past is usually telling the story of white people, I’m not pandering but it’s just the truth.

“There is a vibrant food culture here, and it is not just boiled, fried, salty, butter. The South Asian and African communities that have settled in Britain have changed the game.

“My friend from Romford can order Indian food with the mellifluousness of a traveller who went to Mumbai. You can go to Peckham [London] and have incredible Nigerian food, go to Brixton and have breath-taking Jamaican food, south of the river [Thames].”

“So we give homage and we give love to Cheddar in Cheddar Gorge, or the Whitstable oyster in Whitstable, but how cool is it to then go Kent, and discover it’s more than that. Kent is more than having a sandwich in Sandwich (town), which was dope, but still, there are more stories to tell.“

The television host was blown away by egusi stew and tape tape plantain, a Cameroonian dish he tried in Derbyshire, describing it as one of his favourites on the show.

Richman dining with Stella Kisob Knowels in Stella’s Kitchen dining room with egusi soup
Richman dining with Stella Kisob Knowels in Stella's Kitchen dining room with egusi soup Richman dining with Stella Kisob Knowels in Stella’s Kitchen dining room with egusi soup

Richman says: “A Cameroonian chef named Stella blew my mind with a Cameroonian dish. I know a decent amount about some African dishes.

“To have egusi stew and tape tape plantain in the middle of a rainy day and Derbyshire is amazing.”

Richman praised the resilience of the British hospitality industry after facing the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the success of food establishments that have thrived despite setbacks.

“We film in Manchester with a Brazilian couple who started making viennoiserie pastries out of their apartment, and now they’ve moved to brick and mortar,” he says.

He added one of the “big differences” between American and British food is “there is almost an insistence on local ingredients used in England that is not very pervasive in America”.

“We were in Hucklow, in Derbyshire, at a place called The Blind Bull, and the grouse were shot (locally), the potatoes were local, the onions were local,” he says.

Adam Richman with Melanie Dawn Rodbe holding the baked mushroom quiche.
Adam Richman with Melanie Dawn Rodbe holding the baked mushroom quiche Adam Richman with Melanie Dawn Rodbe holding the baked mushroom quiche.

“At The Potted Pig in Cardiff, I had the best rabbit of my life – you can just bury me in this cheese sauce. [The chef] uses local beer, local leeks, local bread.

“I think in the small towns, to a certain extent, there’s a greater emphasis on eating local than there is in small town America, because of economic inequality.”

Richman expressed his surprise about one very standard British dinner, saying: “What was really surprising was a jacket potato with tuna fish… I like those things individually but it never occurred to me to put tuna or cheese on a baked potato.”

Adam Richman on Whitstable beach.
Adam Richman on Whitstable beach , different angle Adam Richman on Whitstable beach.

He mentioned that he has grown not just “horizontally but mentally” since Man v Food ended in 2010, as there were “other culinary stories to tell”.

Adam Richman Eats Britain starts on March 11 at 9pm on Food Network, and is available to stream on Discovery Plus.