Fandemonium: Adam Richman’s top places to follow a subculture

The Man Vs Food presenter’s new Food Network UK show, in which he meets some of the craziest super fans in the USA, begins tonight. We catch up with him for more on the series and the world's best places to be a fan...

Extreme eating guru Adam Richman (Man vs Food) has quit gut-busting meals to find the craziest super fans, and wildest gatherings across the USA. During his epic journey around the States, Richman also tries the food that fuels fans’ obsessions. Fandemonium starts tomorrow at 9pm.


Richman has lost a whopping 60 pounds since giving up the show that made him a household name in America – Man vs Food. Instead of inhaling piles of meat he’s turned his head toward other people’s over-indulgent obsessions. “Food is only part of the equation,” says Richman on his new show. In the series, he meets everyone from baseball, Nascar and winter sports fans to the followers of bizarre subcultures including rodeo and chuck-wagon racing to mudding with the Redneck Yacht Club. In the latter group, “guys will spend hundreds and thousands of dollars souping up a pickup truck with 16-17 foot tyres, and then go into a ball of mud. It’s wild,” explains Richman.  

While filming for the show, there was one moment that really got Richman’s heart racing – being on stage in front of 80,000 people with his favourite bands at Bonaroo music festival in Tennessee. “All of a sudden I’m on stage with Wu Tang Clan,” he remembers, “the enormity of that moment was just amazing.”

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“I’m a fan of fans, I’m a fan of fan culture,” he continues, “when I was on Man Vs Food, I was working at [indoor arena] Madison Square Garden in the centre of Manhattan – it hosts everything from the Ringling Bros. Circus! to ice hockey, to rap concerts and K-pop concerts. It was like being at the Ground Zero of fans in the Tri-State area.” Meeting people from all walks of life, all congregating in one area for the same reason gave him the idea for the show. “They were all there because of one shared passion,” says Richman. “It makes people do extraordinary things, and spend remarkable amounts of time, energy and money.”

Adam Richman offers up his five top cities in which to let your inner fan out, and enjoy a good feed while you’re at it:

San Sebastian, Spain

“Go for the food,” says Richman, “and there are plenty of things you can be a fan of there. It’s got more Michelin-r restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world. The confluence of culture there, the affordability and the quality of everything – the baseline is awesome. Real Sociedad is the main team there, and the people are so passionate because the Basque people don’t really consider themselves part of Spain.”

Barcelona, Spain

“Barcelona has a derivative culture of Spain but it’s Catalan,” explains Richman. “They have everything from pincho to tapas. They have a baseball team, a hockey team, futsal team. There’s a lot more to Barcelona [than meets the eye].”

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Chicago, Illinois, USA

“Here you’ll find two baseball teams [the Cubs and the Chicago White Sox] plus the Blackhawks [hockey team] and the Bears football team at Soldier Field, right on the edge of the water,” says Richman. “You have deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, water ice, you have marquee chefs like Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat, and Grant Achatz with Trio. Meanwhile, the former meat packing district is growing in popularity and there’s even a Latin American street fair called Maxwell Street Market. I go there a lot, Chicago is great. The area of Wrigleyville must be experienced once in your life.”

Austin, Texas, USA

“Austin does not have a professional sports team,” explains Richman, “but the University of Texas sport is a great programme. Burnt orange is the hardest colour to wear, it’s the only drawback. It’s hard not to look like you have an iron deficiency there,” he jokes. “Austin sits at the intersection of the four terrestrial environments that comprise Texas. You get every single type of food in season. You get amazing barbecue up in the hill country, you get peaches from Fredericksburg. The German community of New Braunfels area is so prolific with their sausage making that they host Wurstfest [a ten day salute to sausage]. Meanwhile, Round Rock Doughnuts are known globally. Tex Mex is really big there, and they were the first city to really embrace food trucks. And there’s a great music scene too, so if you’re a fan of live music, there’s no better place.”

New York, New York, USA

“The Mets and the Yankees got new stadiums within a year of each other,” says native New Yorker Richman. “There are marquee restaurateurs involved in both. You have Danny Myer in one and the Union Square Hospitality group in the other. There’s a sandwich sold by the left field Mets stand where the foodies go; they will buy crappy nose bleed tickets for a Mets game and they will wait for three innings just to get a sandwich, they don’t even care about the game,” laughs Richman. “Meanwhile, The Yankees will have garlic fries, but they also do sliders, and there’s sushi in great local eateries right there. We’ve got basketball teams – the Brooklyn Nets and the Knicks. Marquee restaurants, delis, hotdogs and great great places. No matter which of the teams [or sport] you are a fan of there’s a bar [dedicated to you]. There is a Cleveland Browns bar, a Denver Broncos bar, a Chicago Bears bar in New York. There’s even a Spurs bar baby.”

Fandemonium airs from 9pm tomorrow on Food Network UK

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