“The way people eat has changed,” he said. “They want to be at counters and communal tables. They want heat and funk and chicken wings that set their hair on fire. They’re as quick to brag about the greatest $3 bowl of laksa as a dinner at Ducasse. That’s what I want to create for New York, some place where I would want to eat. Right now, there is nothing like that.”
Stephen Werther, the retail entrepreneur who is one of Mr. Bourdain’s partners in the venture, was more succinct: “People want Tony’s shows to come to life.”
I remember reading Kitchen Confidential right around the time I started getting into cooking and watching the Food Network and it was like dropping acid. Emeril’s Bam!s didn’t seem so funny anymore now that there was an actual badass to follow, writing about heroin and booze and the general skullduggery of the food world. Bourdain is now similar to the Darth Vader bear that my daughter recently brought home from Build-A-Bear—he’s wearing the outfit, and he has the accessories, but he’s been pumped full of cotton wadding and is soft and squishy to the touch.
I’ve kept an eye on this story for a while now—there have been whispers for almost a year, I believe. And the idea has never sat well with me, mostly because, as Bourdain has always been quick to point out: he had no success in the food business. His success has been in writing and eating on camera and playing a character. And the quote above from his partner reads as something horribly dooming because while it might sound snappy, those people aren’t getting his show. He won’t be sitting next to them. And when they realize that, I don’t think they’re going to come back.
I hope I’m wrong, but something tells me that this doesn’t end well.