Anthony Bourdain was last seen eating sushi at the Narita International Airport in Japan, a fact I can confirm by cross-checking his Instagram feed. Bourdain's forthcoming international street food market, on the other hand, is making ripples in the press with its latest splashy update. Like Frankenstein's monster, Bourdain Market has begun to rise.
Bourdain Market, née "untitled market lead by Anthony Bourdain," still has no opening date, nor a location that I can find anywhere, though I have kept my promise and have not stopped looking. In Thursday's Today Online, more details on Bourdain Market have been revealed, and they're as mouthwatering as a piping hot sopapilla eaten at a ramshackle stall somewhere in Argentina. Stephen Werther, co-founder of Bourdain Market, told a crowd at the World Street Food Congress in Singapore all about it:
Werther presented rough renderings of what the market would look like, highlighting inspirations such as the set decor of Blade Runner and the vibrant back alleys of Tokyo. “It’s a bit more chaotic than how the hawkers markets are organised here. Hopefully, it will be as crowded and popular. But it is supposed to be a mash-up of foods, styles, smells, tastes and visuals,” he continued. “New York needs this. New York’s idea of street food, with a few rare exceptions, are sort of new versions of what we call fast casual. And that’s not what this is. It might be casual, but it’s not fast.”
A chaotic market that is both crowded and popular. A market that is inspired by the back alleys of Tokyo and the set decor of Blade Runner. Will it be casual? Maybe. Will it be fast? Absolutely not. Will there be lines? Yes, idiot.
“It is meant to be crowded and chaotic because that’s what hawker centres should be. It should activate all of your senses … and, yes, you should stand in line. Why not? It took them a long time to make it, you should be willing to wait in line to buy it.”
One might suggest that the defining characteristic of street food is that it is intended to be fast to make and fast to eat. But what do I know? I am nothing, no one, spit on the ground compared to my marinated lamb flank in a sharply-cut leather blazer, UN ambassador Anthony Bourdain:
“I like to think of Bourdain as the UN ambassador of food, and we would like all the countries in the world to send us your ambassadors,” Werther mused. “Yes, it is a for-profit business. Yes, it is his legacy for New York. Yes, it is probably what he will retire on. But we don’t do it for that.”
Retirement? Please. Men like Bourdain do not retire: they fade like extinguished firecrackers at the end of an Abruzzese celebration of Carnival, littering the ground alongside oily paperbags that once held dozens of cicerchiata. Bourdain will never really retire. In fact, the everyman just announced a summer "Close to the Bone" tour of the US.
If you see him, tell him I said what's up.