Anthony Bourdain has been all over the news promoting Parts Unknown’s seventh season. Recently, Bourdain sat down with AdWeek to continue plugging the show and he finally answered some lingering questions we’ve all had about the chef’s take on gluten-free dieters, Chick-fil-A, his NYC Hawker Market, and so much more.
Food trends are nothing new, but at the end of the day, they’re just that — trends. One of the biggest trends of this decade is the gluten-free movement. It’s permeated every corner of our culture. While there are a significant number of people who do live with celiac disease, many more are bandwagoners than actually gluten intolerant. In fact, people are starting to realize that it is less about the gluten and more about the 30+ extra ingredients being put into our bread to make it bake faster and last longer. Bourdain, like the rest of us, is tired of hearing about your imagined gluten issues.
Look, before you start boring me to death at a party about how you got gluten-free, you know, if you think you have a disease as serious as celiac disease, shouldn’t you see a f*cking doctor before you make this big move? I don’t think half of these people even understand what they’re talking about. I’m quite sure of it, in fact—juicing and all the rest.
The conversation then moves to another controversy — Chick-fil-A. A lot of people have a problem with Chick-fil-A and Bourdain makes this one pretty simple: Don’t go to a place if you don’t like the people that run it. That’s a pretty good mantra for all of us.
Are we looking for nice people to run our companies? We’re going to be looking pretty hard. I’m not going to go eat at that restaurant or I’m not going to patronize that business because I don’t like what they institutionally support—I don’t like the chairman of the board, I don’t like who created the company, whatever. There’s a whole lot of reasons to just make a personal decision and not go eat at a business and give them your money.
If you don’t like the company, that’s fine. But do you also need to punish their employees who are likely just trying to make it through one more day of the American capitalist death-gauntlet? That’s up to you. Bourdain follows up with this bit of reasoning.
I come from a restaurant business where you’re lucky if the guy working next to you isn’t like an armed robber. I support your inalienable right to say really stupid, offensive sh*t and believe really stupid, offensive sh*t that I don’t agree with. I support that, and I might even eat your chicken sandwich.
On a lighter note, Bourdain dropped some updates on two very anticipated projects he has stewing on his many, many burners. He’s adding a new volume to his collection of best-selling books. This time it’s a family style cookbook of his favorite home-cooked foods. It sounds like it’s full of simple, delicious, and unpretentious recipes.
Meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, budae jjigae, the [Korean] army stew—stuff that makes me happy, that I crave, that I would try out on my daughter, that seems to work at home, but also some strategy of tactics. For instance, how do you get through cooking for a big holiday meal, a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, without killing yourself and your family? Instead of coming out of the oven hot for me to slice table side, I have that sh*t ready long before you arrive.
Damn right! We want you to be in the living room regaling us with stories from Congo or Vietnam, not skimming fowl fat.
Bourdain wraps up with the most important update of all, an update on the Pier 57 project. In case you don’t already know, Bourdain and some friends are opening up a massive hawker food market in Manhattan. Bourdain dropped some nuggets of info that should have you booking a ticket to NYC as soon as it opens. It’s going to be magnificent.
We’re a while out. I mean, it’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking, and we’ve got to get it right. Let us hope. It’s a lot of visas. It’s a lot of vendors both here and abroad. Over 100. There are some vendors who absolutely, positively need to be here, at least for a reasonable period, to train whatever people they want to bring with them or local people.
Hold on. He’s saying they are actually bringing in the original chefs to set this up and train the staff. That is crazy! The appeal of the Pier 57 Food Market just grew tenfold. Tell us more…
I mean, if we’re going to be doing Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice in New York City, the expectations of Chinese who’ve grown up here or have lived here for the last 15 to 20 years waiting for just such an establishment are going to be pretty enormous. We cannot disappoint, OK? One grandmother comes in and says this Hainanese chicken is not at all like what I enjoyed back in Singapore or this budae jjigae is totally not anything like what I enjoyed in Seoul, and we’re doomed.
In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “But I want it now…!”