“Americans want kimchi,” Anthony Bourdain declares in his recent and extensive interview published by The New Yorker. “They want it on their hamburgers. It’s like when Americans started eating sushi-a huge tectonic shift.” The well-traveled television host and culinary explorer is banking on a future in fermented foods with his forthcoming Asian street food haven planned for New York City’s Pier 57. According to the interview, Bourdain hopes to attract fewer of his hipster devotees and more of the displaced Asian population looking for tastes of home. His attitude seems to be that if the foodies and curious “gringos” flock to it too, so be it. And perhaps they will, if, as Bourdain predicts, there is a shift in the American palate towards fermentation. “That funk. That corruption of flesh. That’s exactly the flavor zone that we’re all we’re all moving toward.”
Compiled from months of conversations and observations, the New Yorker interview recaps Bourdain’s transition from heroin junkie to chef to writer and television personality along with personal tribulations like his two divorces, both spoken about candidly by the man and the women themselves. It also touches on the role Bourdain has reluctantly found himself in—that of statesman. To that end, the CNN iteration of his travel-the-world-and-eat-stuff series has focused more on sociological and geopolitical topics. It’s an intentional move coming from a mandate that producer Chris Collins paraphrases as “Don’t tell me what you ate. Tell me who you ate with.” When the narrative isn’t being driven by outside forces, the shows often exhibit filmic influences, which come from Bourdain’s appreciation for that art form, one of his means of escape and travel, as he’s only been venturing out into the world since reaching middle-age.