The Travel Channel is in New Orleans this week to film a "Super Bowl Tailgate Takeover" special.
Host Adam Richman, from the Travel Channel show "Man v. Food", is filming a number of spots for the show around the Crescent City. DT Akiem Hicks took part in a boudin ball tasting session with Richman for the show on Monday.
In the one-hour special, viewers will visit NFL games to see how superfans tailgate in cities like New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Kansas City and more. After learning from the nation's foremost tailgate experts, Richman puts this knowledge to good use. In New Orleans this week, Richman, along with his "tailgate takeover" tech and design team, will create two giant and tricked-out tailgates side-by-side in the shadow of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He'll then surprise one passionate fan from San Francisco and Baltimore, turn over the keys to the tailgate and serve up the ultimate experience for them and their friends to enjoy leading up to kickoff.
The special will premiere on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 8 pm CT on the Travel Channel.
Richman spoke with NewOrleansSaints.com about the special and his appreciation for New Orleans:
Welcome to New Orleans. How often do you get to visit the Crescent City?
"I love New Orleans. I went to college in Atlanta and I lived there for two and a half years after college. So New Orleans was in striking distance for me. I came down for Jazz Fest as much as I came down for Mardi Gras. I have a good friend Bobby McCray who played for the Saints so I had the privilege of coming to the Superdome for a few games."
What do you enjoy most about the city?
"There's an incredible vibe and essence to this city – there is nothing like it anywhere in the world. People can draw similarities to New York and Chicago because of the style or tempo but New Orleans is New Orleans. There is a great sense of community here. It's not like you have to look hard to find great history here. You can find history Uptown as much as you find it on Frenchmen Street, Bourbon Street or the Garden District. It's pottery. Food wise, it's home cooking taken to the nth degree. You have the basis of southern home cooking but here you are working in a Creole, Caribbean or other influence. Then you start seeing something that takes on it's own vocabulary when you have people like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. Then you have guys like Justin Kennedy and Domilise's with the Po-Boys. In Metairie, you have Short Stop Po-Boys doing it their way and places like Crazy Johnnie's."
You mentioned you have been to a few Saints games. What was that like for you?
"In New York we have two football teams, two baseball teams two hockey teams. Here the Saints command so much respect, especially after that incredible Super Bowl campaign. They have mandated that that respect still exists. It's exciting football to watch. It's really community football. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans lives in consciousness of the world. We are all invested to some degree down here."
How will New Orleans play into the "Super Bowl Tailgate Takeover" special?
"For me, tailgating is the American leisure pastime and this show is about our celebration of celebration. How could you do it anywhere else but a city where the going motto is 'Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler.' It's about kicking up your heels and doing it in style. Tailgating with joy and celebration. It's the best. I come here at least twice a year. I deliberately put a chapter about New Orleans in my next book."
What's your favorite New Orleans meal?
"That's tough because every time I come down here I want to try something different. That's something else about the chefs here. In New York you have a lot of really trained chefs that are always trying some really crazy avant-garde stuff like 'how do I turn mayonnaise into spaghetti?' or 'how do I turn ice cream into pasta sauce?' stuff like that. However in New Orleans, it's like the tradition is walking hand-in-hand with modernity. You have great chefs like John Besh who are fully immersed in contemporary cuisine yet still have respect for traditional dishes. I love jambalaya, boudin, redfish, red beans and rice or a good po-boy.
"There's also something special with how people treat you. There's something about being called 'baby' or 'hun''. It's sense of familiarity. It's beyond southern hospitality. You meet people here and you feel like they have known you for years. To the degree that they can bust your chops and give you a hard time playfully. They will also share their life story with you. There's this theme of 'join the party.' Just join. If you embrace this city, it will so embrace you back."
One of your challenges on Man v. Food was to eat 180 oysters in one hour and you accomplished in less than that – how was that?
"It was like 38 or 40 minutes. After the 20-minute mark, you are living on borrowed time. At the time, we were changing directors. I really loved that first director so I wanted to leave him on a victory. People hadn't realized but Man v. Food hadn't aired yet. Some of the commercials were starting to air. We were shooting at Jackson Square. That's the first time people started saying 'is that the new Man v. Food show?' That happened right here in New Orleans. That was really kind of the beginning of the ride for the show."