A few condiments can change everything.
Food at Work

TV chef Adam Richman knows ways to improve your sad desk lunch

Celebrity chef Adam Richman is best-known from shows like Man vs. Food and Food Fighters, in which eating is a contact sport. But the man knows balance.

We caught up with Richman as he was promoting the Taste of the Upper West Side event in New York City, which brings together bites from the best restaurants in the neighborhood, which can in turn offer some of the best food in New York. Yes, that’s a lot of food. Richman, who travels often, loves the annual foodie event for its “tremendous sense of heart,” which “almost feels like an old-school New York block party.”

A fan of old-school delis like Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s, Richman knows how to eat — and how to balance out food while he’s working so he stays healthy. We asked him for his best tips on food and success. 

Ladders: You’re around food all the time. How do you eat while at work on a normal day: do you stick to a routine or do you switch it up?

Adam Richman: Variety is the spice of life! I’m trying to watch my girlish figure, so generally I try to eat healthy. I’ve been really trying to avoid refined sugar and white flour carbohydrates so when I indulge, I make it count!

I do drink loads of water and recently cut out soda completely. I was never a big soda drinker, but I would occasionally indulge in diet soda here and there.

 I also try to eat really good quality proteins and loads of vegetables and try my hardest not to eat too late.

What’s your best advice to people who bring in those sad desk lunches every day?

Sometimes the addition of one condiment or one topping can make the boring turkey sandwich something very special.

By way of an example, you can change up the bread – toast it or make it into a wrap – then add sun-dried tomatoes, avocado or caramelized onions, and maybe even try your hand at making a flavored mayonnaise.

 Salads are perfect opportunities to experiment. Maybe deconstruct your favorite sandwich as a salad, or pick a cuisine you really love and try to figure out a way to infuse its flavors into a bag of spring mix from the supermarket.

Can you give us an example of what you eat during your workdays?

For breakfast, egg white omelet or frittata, an egg baked in avocado, or avocado on sprouted toast. For lunch, salad with five different colors (mesclun, rocket, kale, gem lettuce or grilled romaine and a variety of vegetables) with a high quality protein like grilled sockeye salmon, seared sushi grade tuna or an antibiotic-free chicken breast. For dinner, usually a grilled fish with some really awesome vegetable sides like sautéed spinach with coconut oil, roasted tomatoes or broiled asparagus.

You’ve had success in so many different mediums.  How do you handle success as it comes?

That’s really very kind of you to say. Gratitude is the attitude. Like one of my heroes Lin Manuel Miranda said, “that nothing here is promised, not one day.”

Over your career, I’m sure you’ve had to deal naysayers who said you were in the wrong industry, or thought you should do something else, even when these words come from a place of love.  How did you deal with those people?

It’s hard, you know? Nobody gives you a roadmap in terms of how to be in the public eye, how to do a show that’s never been done before, or how to go from anonymity to a place where people know your name and already have strong opinions (both positive and negative), before they even meet you!

 Sometimes I’ve dealt with negativity better than others, but at the end of the day I have to remember: these people are not going to pay my rent, take care of me when I am sick, or help me with my bills. That’s on me – I can’t live my life with something as toxic as concern for the opinions of others.

What is the best advice you can give to anyone who wants to have longevity & prosperity in any sort of career?

Be kind to everyone; be appreciative; remember in the information age, anything you put on the web can come back to haunt you; and above all, work your butt off. Everybody wants success but no one wants to work for it – it’s the hardest working guys and girls that take home the reward. Never stop learning.