ITV’s new competitive barbecue show BBQ Champ has barely launched but already judge Adam Richman is talking about it in the same breath as the BBC’s ratings smash The Great British Bake Off, telling RadioTimes.com that if he has his way it will run and run.
“I’m up for seven more series!” said Richman, who is best known as the star of US eating challenges like Man vs Food and Man Finds Food. “Obviously it’s not up to me, those are decisions above my pay grade, but I believe this is the type of show that could run as long as Bake Off has been and as long as Bake Off will be.”
Like Bake Off, BBQ Champ will see contestants (six men and two women in this first run) tackle a series of culinary challenges, but instead of baking dainty cakes and pastries in the oven, they’ll be using coals and flames to create barbecue masterpieces – and they won’t all be simply hunks of charred meat…
“We’ve had them do everything from show us their personality on a plate to an all seafood-based dish to reinterpretations of classic Sunday roasts,” reveals Richman. “In fact, we’ve even done challenges where they have to work without a grill and they have to cook right on top of the coals and the wood themselves – you name it, we do it. Everything from cocktails to desserts you’re gonna see on BBQ Champ.”
Another thing the show has in common with Bake Off is its well-balanced combination of presenter and judges, reckons Richman. His experience of seeking out, cooking and eating some of America’s most impressive meat-based meals makes him well-qualified to judge what constitutes great barbecue while his co-judge, chef Mark Blatchford (whose John Doe restaurants are centred around cooking with wood, fire and smoke), brings an understanding of technique and finesse.
“I’m a pretty damn good cook but I’m not a professional chef… I definitely reflect a lot of the same skill level as our competitors,” admits Richman.
“Mark is a guy who makes his living as a chef and furthermore has dedicated himself for the past 25 years to perfecting wood-fired and coal-fired cooking. In terms of the technical aspects of the dishes our barbecuers are attempting he’s quite simply an authority on the subject because he knows how to do it at the highest level possible and he has found the way to get profound flavour without a lot of fussiness and busyness.”
The show’s host Myleene Klass, meanwhile, brings a much needed woman’s touch, not to mention slick presenting skills, says Richman.
“We’re doing this barbecue show which could end up being really blokey if you’re not careful so then you bring in this really gorgeous woman and it’s already a better environment to begin with. Then you add the fact that she’s a mum, so she’s dealt with feeding kids and a lot of times our competitors have to do that.
“So you have someone who is not just a pretty face – who has proven herself to be a smart woman, a strong woman, a mother, an entrepreneur – but also she’s a really gifted, very polished presenter… one of the best going.”
Myleene’s not just there to front the show though, says Richman – she’s also very much in it for the food.
“She is a fan of barbecue and loves to eat – and actually she’s so clever, with just a smile she gets all the barbecuers to give her a bite of this and a taste of this and a little bit of that.
“In one episode, Myleene tastes a bit of one particular competitor’s food and it’s so good she gives him a kiss on the cheek – I honestly thought the guy was gonna take flight. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
BBQ Champ starts at 9pm on Friday 31st July on ITV