Bourdain discusses ‘Parts Unknown,’ extraordinary career

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Anthony Bourdain is a master storyteller.

In 2000, at 44, he was propelled into stardom by his best-selling memoir, “Kitchen Confidential.” It’s the tell-all of a Manhattan chef unafraid to talk about the grittier side of the restaurant industry, as well as his own past struggles with drug addiction.

Its success led to another book deal, with an accompanying Food Network show, both called “A Cook’s Tour.” He left his role as executive chef of the Manhattan French restaurant Les Halles and became a television personality who traveled the world, next with the Travel Channel shows “No Reservations” and “The Layover,” and then the CNN series “Parts Unknown.”

Over the past 16 years, Bourdain, now 59, has explored the cultures and cuisines in locales across 80 countries, and he’s won three Emmys and a Peabody award.

Bourdain has intentionally avoided leading any food projects since leaving the restaurant industry, but next year his name will be attached to a 155,000-square-foot (think three football fields), $60 million international market in New York City’s Pier 57.

If you have any concerns about in which and how to use Farm business saga, you can call us at the web site. We recently spoke with Bourdain about the seventh season of “Parts Unknown,” premiering on April 24, Bourdain Market, his favorite place in the world to eat, and his extraordinary career. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Richard Feloni: What about your experiences from your travels in this upcoming season surprised you?

Anthony Bourdain: I knew a little of the Philippines already, but this was a chance to learn about the Filipino character, and why so many of them end up as caregivers, essentially, looking after kids, looking after sick people – that instinct to give. There’s also a musical aspect that seems ubiquitous. We’re trying to tell a very personal Philippines story, and that was a highlight.

Senegal was a surprise. It’s unlike any country I’ve been before. It’s a slice of Islam that I think most people haven’t seen, with a very different colonial history than a lot of people have seen. I think that’s going to be a real eye-opener.

The situation in the Greek isles, where we shot, is very different from the mainland. They’re doing fairly well in Naxos, mostly off predatory tourism, people looking for cheap prices in a buyer’s market. They’re doing pretty well compared to the mainland. So it’s sort of an off-center perspective. And there is a shadow looming, however paradoxical it might seem, from the refugee crisis that has become an increasingly big factor in the country.

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Feloni: You’re now shooting an episode in Rome based on its dark fascist past.

Bourdain: It’s not so much that it’s a historical show. I think primarily I’m always looking to look at a place from a different perspective, and everybody’s seen classic Rome and the Colosseum and the buildings of antiquity.

So I said, let’s look at a completely different side of Rome, the EUR [Esposizione universale Roma, the district Mussolini intended to be Rome’s new center], fascist-era architecture, early [film director] Pier Paolo Pasolini, Brutalist architecture – I deliberately tried to stay away from antiquity and monuments. Once I made that stylistic decision, I started to read a lot of history of when these structures were built and why.

I’ve been boning up on Mussolini-era Italy and there are a shocking number of similarities to current-day America, unfortunately.

I think it’s worth remembering that Mussolini was elected. He was very, very popular, and basically could say anything he wanted on any given day of the week, completely reverse himself from his opinion yesterday and yet no one minded. I think that apparent need for a man on a horse, we might be in a similar time. I mean, I hope not.

Feloni: Are you getting at Trump specifically?

Bourdain: It won’t appear in the show at all, but I hope it hangs in the air.

I mean, Mussolini served his country in combat and did a credible job, and I don’t think you could say that about, you know, this guy.

Feloni: Moving to some brighter news. When did the idea for this Pier 57 market first start? When did it move forward in a real way?

Bourdain: We’ve been working on it for about four, five years. I’ve always loved those Southeast Asian hawker centers and the big wet market of Hong Kong and S⭠Paulo and Barcelona, and I was sort of bitterly resentful as a New Yorker that we didn’t have that. We should. We’re a big international city, our diversity is our strength. We have millions of people from all over the world. Why don’t we have a big market with democratically available, diversely priced food?

It’s something we’re missing, and I was given the opportunity to be part of a project that brings that to New York. I led that, and I don’t know when it started to become something serious that looked like it was going to happen.

This was an opportunity that arose in New York, and I’m a New Yorker. If I was thinking if this is an extension of me, I would have had little eateries in airports years ago.

This is not a supermarket or a food center, a food hall, or any of that. This is a market that will sell produce and fish, and there will be butchers and bakers. But it will also have one-chef, one-dish specialized, independently owned and operated stalls.

And we’re doing absolutely zero Italian, no Italian anything. I mean, Mario Batali does that very well with Eataly, and I don’t see any need to duplicate efforts. So we’ll assiduously stay away from that. It’s not of any interest or expertise in any case.

Feloni: How much time will you spend working on it once it’s launched?

Bourdain: There will certainly be no business within the market that I didn’t say yes or no to. Will I be driving a forklift? Probably not.

Feloni: What does it mean to you to have this giant project with your name attached to it?

Bourdain: I wish my name wasn’t on it! [Laughs] I think this is a great idea whether my name’s on it or not. Personally, I would have been happy to live without my name on it. But wiser minds than me apparently thought it was a really important thing. I could live without that. I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like this.

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