Adam Richman: Crawling to Drama Class

Me, Adam Richman and my daughter Sally at Barnes & Noble May 28..

Adam Richman remembers his years at Yale fondly. But perhaps not as fondly as he remembers New Haven cuisine.

Richman, the TV foodie who’s hosted several series on the Travel Channel and now has a deal with NBC, was at the Yale Barnes & Noble bookstore a couple of Thursdays ago to sign copies of his his first cookbook: Straight Up Tasty—Meals, Memories and Mouthfuls from My Travels.

At the signing, Richman spent a great deal of time chatting up each person in the room, amiably riffing with stand-up-comedy aplomb on whatever tidbits they told him about their lives. He especially reminisced about the three years he spent at the Yale School of Drama, from which he graduated in 2003.

Richman was hoping to use his time in town wisely, with planned excursions to Louis’ Lunch and Bentara. He was spotted much later that night at Modern Apizza.

The erstwhile “Man V. Food” warrior could easily namecheck all the “name” restaurants in the area, from the noble pizza places of Wooster (and State) to the dear departed Roomba  and Hot Tomato’s. But he also had fond recollections of the blueberry pancakes at Patricia’s (which he claimed had robbed him of his “girlish figure”) and similar breakfasts at the Pantry on State Street. He even mentioned Dunkin Donuts at the corner of Chapel & Park. Richman recalled “crawling into Drama 006 classes with a glazed donut in my mouth, like one of the seven sons in Game of Thrones.” (He came to Yale far too late to know that location as the site of the noteworthy breakfast nook and Drama School hang-out Gag Jr.’s).

Richman’s eyes lit up when someone in the line described the “747” coffee concoction at Koffee? on Audubon St., which apparently involves seven shots of espresso, four measures of cream and seven packets of sugar. “All I’d want to do after having that is have a fist fight or play Xbox on the toilet,” the culinary tough guy quipped.

But what I wanted to talk to Richman about, naturally, was his acting. I reviewed him in probably a dozen shows at the Yale Cabaret and the Yale School of Drama, and remember him well. I have a special memory of him in a zombie thriller at the Cabaret, slamming a round plastic worklight (which was serving as the headlight of a makeshift cardboard automobile) so hard that the whole set shook. He was in shows as diverse as Mac Wellman’s Sincerity Forever and the Rocky Horror Show.

At the booksigning, Richman waxed eloquent about food and drama. “I remember reading Philoctetes and The Cure at Troy over cheese fries at Alpha Delta Pizza on Elm Street, he said in his native Brooklyn accent. It’s a statement that you could hear W.C. Fields or Leo Gorcey making.

Richman was already apparently keeping a food diary when he went to Yale, and he was able to combine his acting career and his fascination with food when he worked the regional theater circuit for a few years after graduation. He still acts occasionally, and has produced theater shows for others.

When someone asked if he missed Yale, he first said “sooo much,” then modified the sentiment because of the sheer hard work he endured there. He compared the graduate theater program to the pains of childbirth. Then he said “it’s like Oliver Stone—I’m going to take my experience in Viet Nam and use it for good.” He says that above all, the university taught him “responsibility.” He also liked how it made his mother feel to “put that [Yale] sticker on her car.” He left Yale, he said, with a five-year plan about his future. It was exactly five years after graduation that he landed his first TV show, Man V. Food. Scary.