Domilise's shrimp poboy to compete in 'Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America'
Slapping the “best” label on anything, no less a simple sandwich, is an automatic beef-starter. Adam Richman knew this but opted to undertake his new Travel Channel series, “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America,” anyway. And put his name in the title. The competition, divided by region at first as Richman tours 30 sandwiches in 27 cities, begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday (June 6). New Orleans’ own Domilise’s takes part in the bite-off during a second episode airing at 8:30 p.m.
“I remember walking toward the zero hour of launching this thing,” Richman said during a recent phone interview. “I'm really freaking out, knowing I’m really putting my huevos in the pan. ‘All right, I'm going on record saying, “This is the best.”’ It was actually my literary agent, who’s also a very good guy and a super-informed guy about food and the food culture, who said, ‘Adam, at the end of the day, discussion and disagreement and dissent, that's kind of what you want, because that means you've actually activated something that people care about.”
Richman, famous for his sport-eating series “Man v. Food” and “Man v. Food Nation,” said the sandwich derby came about one day when he was spending some time thinking, “What’s next?”
“So many ideas were bandied about that were so content-heavy and could easily collapse under their own weight,” he said. “I remember I was sitting at an airport gate and I was talking to my co-executive producer and I said, ‘We’re overcomplicating things. People trust me to find great places to eat. Let's focus on great sandwiches all around the country. I’ll find the one that's my personal favorite, and along the way I'll experience some other ones. We can showcase this one type of food that is so relatable and so universal that you can't deny what you feel.’
“Simply put, every culture on this planet has a sandwich. Every single one. Gyros, falafel, roti and so on. There are so many different options, and it gave us so much latitude.
“It’s also something that people could genuinely re-create at home, and that people could realistically have a connection to. It's something that mom makes with tomato soup when we don't feel well, and it's something we grab to put in a brown paper bag on our way to school.
“It's so simple and kind of elegant in its simplicity that I had to do it. Everybody loves a sandwich. I didn't want to do anything too heavy, too intense. I love it.”
In Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. episode, Domilise’s shrimp po boy will compete against two Tampa, Fla., sandwiches, one a Reuben made of grouper. Richman said he was surprised and pleased at the simplicity of the Domilise’s po boy preparation, which is demonstrated in the episode.
“When you find something is done with that degree of simplicity, it's at once both amazing and unnerving,” he said. “You go, ‘Oh my gosh, I thought there was so much more intricacy to this recipe.’
“The inverse is true as well, when you find something and you think you know it and think that it’s straight-ahead and it’s not.”
Domilise’s inclusion comes courtesy of Anthony Bourdain, who nominates the shrimp po boy for the competition in a segment taped in an unidentified men’s room.
Domilise’s was one of the local stops Bourdain made during a 2008 New Orleans episode of “No Reservations,” so his favoring their po boys figures. But why the men’s room?
“We are now just at the tip of the iceberg of the ‘Why did Anthony Bourdain do X?’ question,” Richman said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a colleague and as a writer and a producer, but I’ll be gosh darned if I know how that dude’s brain works.
“Maybe the sound quality was better in a porcelain echo chamber.”Dave Walker can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3429. Read more TV coverage at NOLA.com/tv. Follow him at twitter.com/davewalkertp.
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