Market 57 packs tons of flavor on one historic pier.
As I enter the massive warehouse space where garland, lanterns, rows of crave-inducing food samples, and streams of people have transformed a historic bus depot into New York City’s newest food hall, I can’t help but think of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, and I have a feeling Pier 57 will follow in Mashama Bailey’s footsteps of success. And then she appears as if on cue, exchanges pleasantries, and is in uniform in the James Beard Foundation (JBF) exhibition kitchen moments later.
Bailey returning to town is always a treat, but local chefs are the main attraction at Market 57, open to the public on April 1. Wilson Tang is doling out dumplings and pan-fried noodles at a Nom Wah outpost. Fany Gerson’s vibrant paletas are displayed in front of her new Mexican concept, Mijo. The Lobster Place has a casual kiosk called The Galley. Bessou is back with a new chef, Maiko Kyogoku. Raymond Z. Mohan and Leticia Skai Young Mohan bring their seafood influenced by the British West Indies from LoLo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem to Lolo’s on the Water here in Chelsea.
It’s hard to have a favorite food hall in New York City, with Urban Hawker finally opening in Midtown in September and Urbanspace expanding to a sixth location in Union Square in January, but Market 57 is much more than a food hall.
In addition to the 15 BIPOC- and women-owned vendors, the James Beard Foundation calls its Platform by JBF a showcase kitchen and educational space. Upcoming events include a Mexican Seder and a kids’ cooking class teaching techniques for regrowing food, not to mention Kwame Onwuachi’s Subway Journeys, with a course for each of four NYC train lines he rides, and a panel called “Restaurants that Changed New York.”
“Platform by the James Beard Foundation signifies a stage for chefs like me — chefs of color, chefs who are women, chefs who represent the diversity of our cities and our country — to come together and have a stage in which to perform and cook foods that are really near and dear to us,” said Bailey, executive chef and co-founder of The Grey and 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Winner for Outstanding Chef. “The space is just big enough that it’s challenging, but it’s small enough that guests can actually hear and understand what the chefs are saying through food.”
Next to Platform’s open kitchen, JBF’s Good to Go incubator is hosting food from fellows at the Beard House. The kiosk is an avenue for vetted culinary entrepreneurs to access feedback and insights on their products while raising capital for their businesses. Applications open for future fast-casual concept testing in this space on April 1.
“This is a transformational moment for the Foundation — it represents a unique opportunity to bring our mission — Good Food for Good — to life like never before; and to engage a global year-round audience in our work,” said JBF CEO Clare Reichenbach. “Good food is more than just delicious food, it’s about a better food world. A food world that has equity at its core, that prioritizes sustainability, and cultivates working conditions where all have the opportunity to flourish and thrive.”
Mayor Eric Adams rings a nautical bell and Pier 57 is christened with remarks about exchanging ideas, engaging with all people, inclusivity, and investment — particularly from Google, politicians, and partners in the development of the destination. After 23 years in Manhattan, Google is vocalizing its corporate initiative to connect with the community by dedicating this space to public recreation, education, and culinary experiences. Beyond the food hall, classrooms (and an interactive virtual aquarium); a living room space (yes, sofas and chairs in an open floor space for all seasons); and the massive outdoor deck and rooftop park are all intended for all. The ethos aligns with JBF’s tagline.
This location is objectively ideal between other destination piers, Little Island and Pier 59, with City Winery onsite and Chelsea Market across the highway. You can’t go wrong curating a meal here with Cajun, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and Thai options; pairing a bubble tea or beer from Harlem Hops; and sunbathing or stargazing on the expansive, dog-friendly roof that signage indicates is open until 1 a.m. — a closing time we’ve rarely seen since the start of the pandemic. New York City is back, and you can taste so much of it here.