Anthony Bourdain has gained world notoriety in the last decade with the wild success of his foodie adventure shows No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown. For those of us who’ve obsessively watched his travels and desperately wished we could sample all of the delicious, hard-to-find morsels he features on his programs, our dreams are coming to fruition.
Bourdain is in the process of building a Singapore-style hawker market on Manhattan’s Pier 57 in Chelsea. This is the biggest and most ambitious food market in New York right now, and promises to blow expectations out of the water. Bourdain is not only bringing the styles and foods of other cultures to the market, he’s shipping in the cultural experience wholesale. The fishmongers, the butchers, the cooks, the authentic foods and experiences he’s been sharing with us through our television screens will finally be converging in one place to offer a sampling of Bourdain’s culinary adventures. He plans to bring retail and wholesale food vendors from not only New York and the rest of the country, but from overseas directly to set up individual stalls in the market. There are plans of a sit-down restaurant, eating stalls, and a public park on the roof of the pier. This promises to be an attraction that will draw a crowd; 20,000 people is the daily estimate.
The 155,000 square foot pier will provide New York’s biggest and most diverse food market to date. In order to provide a truly authentic experience, Bourdain is using his connections with vendors from across the globe, offering customers the opportunity to indulge in these otherwise inaccessible flavors, ingredients, and recipes. Among the most notable (due to being featured on his TV shows) are: Sabina Bandera, the operator of the La Guerrerense tostada cart in Ensenada, Mexico; the team from Singapore’s Geyland Claypot Rice; and the famed butchers from Victor Churchill butcher shop in Sydney, Australia.
There hasn’t been much objection to this $60 million project, but something to consider is the effect that this development will have on the huge amount of immigrant workers already living in New York who own and run authentic restaurants. It is possible that the livelihood of these individuals will be compromised simply because of the overwhelming attraction that putting Bourdain’s name on an international market creates. The efficacy of this project is unclear; if Bourdain were to employ international workers already located in the area, he would be providing opportunities to people who’ve already sought to live in the States. By bringing in more people from overseas, is he potentially taking jobs away from those already working in the area?
Perhaps it is prudent to add, that as the market is not expected to open for another two years, there is still time for Bourdain and his team to work out the kinks and attempt to create an environment that is widely inclusive for locals and foreigners alike who want to be involved in the project. In addition to the hustle and bustle of an international market, they are planning to hold the Tribeca Film Festival at the public park proposed for the roof of the pier.
With its many big-name attractions and the hope of vicariously living out Bourdain’s international eating experiences, this food market intends to be a staple of New York’s ever-growing cuisine.
**Originally published by me via The Witty Agent on November 4, 2015.