As the host of the upcoming Travel Channel show "Man Finds Food" and the NBC competition show "Food Fighters," Adam Richman has built a career on finding great food all over the country and even the world. But even before he was in front of the cameras, he was passionate about food. "I'm super blessed to have merged my dream with my job."

Event dining

From spending so many years as a professional foodie (his first hit show was "Man vs. Food" in 2008), he's found too many great meals and locations to easily narrow down a list of his favorites. Still, the dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker does have some warm feelings for one state. "I'll always love New York — and I'll always have a home there in some respect — but Hawaii is sort of like a spiritual home to me," he says. "Hawaii is just magic in so many ways."

He also has fond memories of a restaurant far from both Hawaii and New York — Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. "It's not a dinner; it's a culinary experience,” he gushes. “It has to be experienced to be understood. They have the largest wine cellar in the world. They do everything but raise their own cattle. They blend their own coffee and grow their own vegetables, so it's all integrated. There's a separate dessert room. You sit inside an ancient wine cask to order your dessert. It has to be seen to be believed. I tell people, if you are a foodie and you want to experience the Disneyland of dinner, it's one of my favorites. It's an incredible experience."

“When you make food part of the plan, you can spend time looking at a beautiful sunset, not having to worry about where to get something to eat.”

Treat yourself

But not every traveler has the budget for extravagant meals — especially when taking a cross-country trek. Richman still thinks food should play "a major role" in planning any trip. "Food can be a way to pace your trip," he says. "It puts a finite time on your driving. Instead of driving until you're tired and then finding a motel, which is what a lot of people do when they're driving cross-country, you can go to the places that have the iconic food that the city is known for. I think when everyone says, ‘all right, we want to try chilies in New Mexico and BBQ in St. Louis and fried green tomatoes in Georgia,’ the cool thing is we're not just going to drive and look at the largest ball of twine, we're doing something participatory and we'll never get a better version of these dishes than where we are. Plus, when you make food part of the plan, you can spend time looking at a beautiful sunset, not having to worry about where to get something to eat."

He also suggests travelers take a taste of home on the road: "If you're leaving a hometown that has something that you love — like Italian NY deli sandwiches — and you know you're not going to have that for a while, it's kind of neat to take that with you." Also, pack snacks so you don't have to pull over for a so-so meal. "I'm a big fan of wraps. Anything that's hand held. If you're going to have a picnic, you can get olives and charcuterie. Find stuff that you can pack in bulk that you can eat from a container safely and not too messily. That stuff is fun to me. Fruit is great to snack on while you're driving. In many cases, you eat the wrapper."