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Bourdain on Queens: ‘This is a Wonderland’ Because of Street Food

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The globe-trotting TV chef visits Queens on the latest episode of ‘Parts Unknown’

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown

Celebrity TV chef/author Anthony Bourdain ventures home to New York City for Sunday’s episode of his CNN show “Parts Unknown” and this time, he takes the 7 train to explore Queens. The Manhattan resident used the opportunity to talk about street food, sitting down with Street Vendor Project attorney Sean Basinski in Corona to hear about the issues that vendors face.

For Bourdain, the proliferation of street carts is what makes Queens so vibrant, he says. “Manhattan is very much the, you know, ‘not in my backyard neighborhood’ in a lot of ways. I mean, for this reason, Manhattan in my view is a lot less interesting than Queens. This is a wonderland.

Bourdain has been very vocal about relaxing the rules around street food vendors in New York City. Currently, a limited number of permits exist for street vendors — leading to an expensive black market and a system that tends to prey on working-class immigrants. A new law proposes increasing the number of permits, but it has faced pushback from business districts and the real estate industry.

Basinski notes that when people talk about “cleaning up” Roosevelt Avenue, it could mean less street food. Even when a vendor has a legal spot, building managers have been known to call the police on them, Basinski says. “If you get higher rent, nicer buildings, they’re not going to want a street cart out in front,” Bourdain says.

Here’s the clip about street food:

Bourdain also visits Flushing for soup dumplings, Jackson Heights for momo, and more. Take a look at a map of everywhere he visits here. The full episode airs on Sunday, May 21 at 9 p.m.

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