Camille Ford could beat you at arm wrestling. She probably wouldn’t unless you gave her a really good reason to, though. This athletic adventurer based out of New York but bred in Arizona is quick with a joke, easy on the eyes, and is happy to be the new host of Travel Channel’s “Food Wars.” We were able to interview her far too briefly recently, and here’s what she had to say about food, guns, adventure, and every kind of “ing” activity you can think of.
MM: You’ve got a pretty varied history in performance. You were a producer, actress, and a news reporter. How’d you get your start?
CF: I think it’s like anything else. You have a passion and you want to completely immerse yourself. And, when I moved to New York, I knew I was going to make some sacrifices in order to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to be sure that I really loved it, so I tried everything I could get my hands on.
MM: And how has that helped with “Food Wars”
CF: Oh, god! You know, it’s like the in "Karate Kid." You’re like, Why the hell am I waxing the floor? And then you look and you go, Oh, it’s so I can kick that guy’s ass. It’s very much along those lines where, ya know? I think anytime in life, if you have a goal, whether you like it or not every step along the way is going to help you with that. So, things like being able to talk to people on the fly, being able to organize my schedule when I’m traveling 27 days a month…really understanding what it is to be part of something that’s this powerful and this important to people. Realizing that, as a producer, what it takes and how many man hours it takes to go into these restaurants where they’ve worked their entire life to produce just chicken! You know, and understanding and respecting what that is.
MM: How do you find the restaurants? What kind research do you do?
CF: God, so much. I mean, we have an awesome team. Travel Channel really keeps it together, and we have a bunch of associate producers that help get me a packet of history of who’s who and what’s what when I go on there. Because a lot of times we’ll only have a day of prep. They really know who-and-what-and-when-and-where-and-why. ‘Cause it’s a big deal!
MM: Speaking of why: why food?
CF: (laughs) I would say that food and travel are my two favorite things besides, um, you know. Some other extracurricular activities, but, there’s nothing I love more than just going places and saying, “What’s that shack at the end of that road? Let’s go eat there.” So I get to mix my passion and love of travel with my absolute passion for good food.
MM: Where are the people most competitive about their food?
CF: Here’s the thing, though, about that. You get some kind of Southern charm or that Midwest hospitality, and you really have to read between the lines. Because, as a New Yorker, somebody will just be like, “Yeah, fuck you!” And everything is cool. But, there, people will be like “Well, just bless their sweet little heart, they just try so hard.” But, what they’re really saying is, “I can’t wait to rip out their jugular with my bare hands and feed it to my toddler.” Ya know? (Ed. Note: we do) ‘Cause, there’s a lot of competition. I think any time you dedicate your life to something and you’re passionate about it. You know, people might handle their emotions differently. But, aside from the gun and the knife show in Chicago, I think people in general are in it to win it. They want to see things happen?
MM: Wait. What’s the gun and the knife show?!
CF: Oh, how funny of you to ask! So, Chicago is definitely a crazy city. You know, you’re coming from two totally different sides of town: the gangster and the old school Italian. And there is some…there was some heavy artillery showing up at these meetings. People there are not joking around. There’s more than just Italian beef on the line, it’s their reputation, their family, and their community, and the people get serious.
MM: What’s tasted the best so far?
CF: Oh, ugh, God. I love. The Sausage. In Texas. It’s Pavlovian. Just saying the word ‘Texas’ or ‘sausage’ and my mouth starts to water. The pork shoulder was ri-dic-ulous! I think the brisket and the sausage were by far what I wasted most of my 8,000 calories a day on. (laughs) Me and Michael Phelps just chowin’ down.
MM: You do a lot of adventuring to burn those 8,000 calories, what kinds of adventures do you get into?
CF: What don’t I do? I rock climb, I kayak, I water-ski, I downhill ski, I snowshoe. I mean, literally, if there is an ‘ing’ at the end of it – skiing, swimming, jumping, racing – I love it. I just bought a new skateboard and I’ve been trying it out, holding onto the backs of garbage trucks when the weather’s been nice in New York. I love getting into dangerous situations. And, to be honest, I think because I’m a girl I get away with it. Like, usually taxi drivers won’t let you hold onto their care when they’re going down toward Time Square, but they let me. Usually garbage truck drivers freak out when you hold onto the back of their trucks when you’re riding a skateboard, but they let me. So I’m kind of given a little bit of a get out of jail free card which lets me really push the boundaries as far as what crazy situations I can get into.
MM: Like Sassy Pole Girls?
CF: (laughs) Yes, like Sassy Pole Girls. Like SPG, baby! Oh, my Sassy Pole Girls. I love that place.
MM: What’s next for you?
CF: Well, I just finished a five-mile wilderness race yesterday, and I did some crazy single-track mountain biking the day before. Uh, all technical. So, what’s on the horizon? I don’t know! Hopefully, people see me doing crazy things, and they decide to explore their world. They see me trying new food and they go out and they try their local eateries. They don’t stick to the same old Applebees. They start asking their neighbors, “Where do you like to eat? Where do you think has the best meatloaf? Where do you think has the best burger?” And, people get back out there and hopefully will be inspired by Travel Channel and inspired by me and go eat it up! That’s the goal. And on my horizon, hopefully it’s just more of that.