The Travel Channel's Adam Richman is not unfamiliar with Memphis' culinary extremes. For his popular show Man Vs. Food, he took on Kooky Canuck's Kookamonga burger and sampled Gus's world-famous spicy fried chicken.
For his latest series, Adam Richman's Fandemonium, he explores another extreme, that of the "superfan," those who go to great personal and financial expense "in order to celebrate their passion."
Fandemonium brings Richman back to Memphis and into the smoky wilds of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. The episode airs this Sunday, August 4th.
In preview of Sunday's show, Richman took some time to answer questions from Hungry Memphis.
Hungry Memphis: Adam Richman's Fandemonium focuses on die-hard fans. Do you have a specific set of criteria that separates the superfan from the enthusiast?
Adam Richman: No, there is no specific set of criteria. I think in trying to make a distinction between enthusiast and superfan we are probably just splitting hairs.
I will say this — The Level of enthusiasm is probably higher in what we call the superfan. I think enthusiast has a broad range of people who fall under that category. Superfans are the ones who spend unbelievable amounts of time, energy, and money year-round — in the good times and the bad — in support of the things they love. They are also the ones who continuously try to top themselves from year-to-year, and, in most cases, the guy in the next lot.
What was your first impression of the BBQ Fest when you got to Tom Lee Park?
I was blown away by the sheer scope of the event! I had been along that selfsame riverbank many times, but to see an entire city erected out of nowhere kind of blew me away! To see the level of organization, the amount of hospitality shown by many of these teams to complete and total strangers, and the level of food cooked all across the board really elevated Memphis in May to something far beyond a cooking event.
You celebrated your birthday while at the festival. Any other memorable moments?
Well, returning to a city you love, which is also the city where you shot the pilot for a show nobody had heard of that spawned three spinoffs and 59 episodes, and returning as not only host, but executive producer of the show that has your name in the title is pretty epic in and of itself. To have a birthday on top of that, and to be able to eat the best barbecue in the land on your birthday, not to mention Gus's Fried Chicken — that's pretty darn memorable. Also, being able to take my crew out for dinner at Rendezvous — and to jump to the head of the line!
Were there any moments when filming this season that you found yourself thinking, "You people need to calm down"?
Never in terms of asking people to quell their passion! I love seeing people get excited and jazzed about something they love!
However, the double-edged sword in being an approachable dude is that people — especially drunk people — think they know you, and this results in lots of arm-punches, headlocks, and back-slaps.
I ain't gonna lie, that can get a bit intense. But I know it's all out of love, and I wouldn't be in a position to do a show about great fans if I didn't have great fans that care enough to show that they like me in the first place. My fans gave me all of my opportunities, so I owe them my respect.
The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest episode of Adam Richman's Fandemonium airs Sunday, August 4th at 8 p.m. on the Travel Channel.
Images courtesy of the Travel Channel