The CEO of a long-awaited project under the Anthony Bourdain brand has resigned from his post, a significant setback for the celebrity chef as he tries to expand into the lucrative gourmet food retail market.
According to a report published by Eater NYC in late March, Stephen Werther has stepped down from his top executive position at Bourdain Market, a retail project inspired by the Singapore food halls where restaurateurs set up gourmet food stalls that invite hawking. The original idea came from Werther; he approached Bourdain in 2015 to attach his name to the project, which the celebrity chef enthusiastically approved.
At this point, the Bourdain Market has not signed a lease at the future Super Pier, a project that will occupy the Pier 57 spot in Chelsea, right on the Hudson River. The real estate development team supporting the project are not taking chances and have already tried to line up rival celebrity chef Mario Batali so that he could open an Eataly gourmet food market should the Bourdain project fizzle.
Werther is reportedly stepping down from the Bourdain Market because he is planning a new venture involving Asian cuisine, which could potentially come into conflict of interest against the Super Pier project. Werther would like to extend the Chinese gourmet food market into the United States and other regions beyond Asia. The former CEO also owns Suprema Provisions, a chic restaurant located in Manhattan’s West Village.
While the departure of the CEO and the issue with the unsigned lease may not seem like the best situation for the Bourdain Market, the project is still likely to move forward based on the global popularity of Bourdain himself. Ever since the celebrity chef featured former President Barack Obama in his show, his brand has gained significant recognition.
The Bourdain Market will ostensibly feature more than 100 stalls managed by chefs and vendors from around the world, many of them invited by Bourdain himself. Even though this food hall is inspired by Singaporean cuisine, Bourdain has promised that a good portion of this gourmet market will feature products and meals from different regions of the world.