Adam Richman (‘96C), host of Travel’s Channel’s “Man v. Food,” discussed his time at Emory and in Atlanta area, as well as the hardships he faced while chasing his dreams, passions, and of course, some of his favorite local eateries, at this year’s Class Day yesterday.
The man who has “laid waste” to a 72 oz. steak meal in 29.5 minutes brought enthusiasm and pride to his speech. Richman reminisced about his time at Emory and looked back with fond memories.
Richman graduated from Emory in 1996 with a undergraduate degree in international studies. He then went on to receive a master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama.
Man vs. Food is a food reality show on the travel channel and has been on the air since 2008. Richman is currently filming for a new Travel Channel TV show, “The Best Sandwich in America,” which premieres June 6.
“I remember going to Sewanee for a track and field meet, and they gave me my Emory uniform,” Richman said. “There was something special about that. It was such a big moment for me.”
Richman said he originally came to Emory with the goal of becoming a doctor, but that it was his parents’ goal and not his own. He spoke about how nothing he did truly grabbed his interest, but he eventually found his passion by intertwining food and acting.
Richman said his experiences at Emory, although he didn’t know it at the time, helped shape his career and lay down the foundation for his T.V. show.
“There was this great place just off of Briarcliff [Road] called Virginia’s,” he said. “I went there with this journal, and I was writing about my life but using food as the point of departure, and I realized this was a deeply connective event for me.”
While Richman has garnered fame for his work, he said his life was not always that way.
He said that when his father died, all of his money was going toward paying funeral and hospital bills.
“When I got back to New York I was lost, and the last thing you want at 25 years of age is to be the guy who went home and sleeps on his mother’s couch.”
When a student asked what his lowest point in his life was and how he brought himself out of it, Richman said he was unemployed for a while and living off of food stamps.
“I said, ‘Look, I can make my own destiny,’ and when I came out of Yale, I put myself on a five-year plan,” he said.
Richman then made a list of ways to better himself and stuck to it to eventually become the person he is today, he said.
“You guys are in a really special place, whether you know what’s next or not,” he said. “As a fellow [Emory] Eagle I wish you all lives full of joy and fulfillment, promise and adventure. From the bottom of my heart, I tell you I couldn’t, and you couldn’t, have picked a better place to start from.”
Emory announced Richman as the Class Day speaker in March and has worked with his production company and agent since December.
— Contact Nicholas Sommariva