It was your average cooking party amongst friends, only they were mostly guys, mostly from Brooklyn, and one of them was Adam Richman.
Yes, that Adam Richman, of “Man v. Food” and “Man v. Food Nation” fame. The Food Network star and some of his friends/crew colleagues from the shows reunited at a house in Greenpoint to whip up some food and care packages for fellow Brooklynites who are still struggling after Hurricane Sandy.
“The truth of the matter is that anyone who takes pride in our accomplishments as locals [on TV], this is them,” said Richman, 38. “Also, these are the people who watch us and that allow us to pursue our dream… I was able to move on up like George and Weezie [in “The Jeffersons”] because of fans and the support of my community. If I don’t give back I really don’t think it’s fair for me to have.”
Richman grew up in southeast Brooklyn’s Homecrest, Midwood, Mill Basin, Gerritsen Beach, and Sheepshead Bay neighborhoods, and has made no secret of his love for his home borough, which has often been featured in his popular Food Network shows, including notable trips to L&B Spumoni Gardens and Brennan & Carr’s.
“My mom called me [when it happened because I was] in Croatia and she said we’re islands again, that water came and separated us again. [But] we can’t afford to be separated any longer,” said Richman, whose family and cousins out in Long Island were still without power, two weeks after Sandy hit.
“One cousin’s parents were living in his office for a while. Another cousin lost her car, lost her house. So I called Marty Markowitz’s office and asked ‘where are we needed. We have stuff,’” Richman said. “Then I called Eddie Sullivan from Brennan & Carr [and] it just didn’t sound like him. He said it’s awful. Eight family members, all homeless. He lived out in Breezy [and] the thing is no one can lean on each other because no one’s got anything to lean on. Thank god [the restaurant] is still operational.”
The cooking party started from a simple email from “Man v Food” director Anthony Biancosino, who we met during a previous Election Day trip delivering trays of lasagna to the Calvary Baptist Church in Red Hook. “We’re just having fun, getting our hands dirty,” explained Biancosino.
This time around, the group stuffed dozens of brown paper bags with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and tuna sandwiches – with choices of whole wheat or white bread – as well as fuel sources of “a flashlight, replacement batteries, at least three candles per bag, and at least two books of matches per bag.”
“I bought every flashlight and AAA battery they had in this one store, 20 different winter hats, gloves, 40-60 bottles of water… everything I could get my hands on,” said Richman. “Tony made amazing plates of ziti with his family’s recipe, and there are two meat and one veg. We wanted to make sure to give everybody an option, instead of saying to make do with what they are given. It’s a sense of normalcy, having options.”
For a guy who makes his living off of celebrating America’s love of food, Richman knows the power that food can have on people.
“With a guest, you feed a guest and the guest is loving the food you’re giving them. I think that’s a very special thing,” he explained. “To feed somebody that’s hungry… My dream today is to come home empty-handed.”
The group returned to Red Hook before heading to Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, and one of the Rockaways. “We’d love to get to Staten Island, but we think that would be one whole trip,” Richman added.
“Brooklyn’s dear to me. Brooklyn must always take care of Brooklyn, always and always,” he said. “We’re some of the hardiest people alive.”