Upcoming food hall St. Roch Market officially debuts this Friday, April 10, in what is certain to be the biggest spring opening in New Orleans. Not only does the return of the market mark an important milestone for the community, but the business also solidifies St. Claude Avenue as the city's newest street of dreams when it comes to dining.
When the doors open, thirteen vendors will serve up everything from African food to oysters. This week, in anticipation of the opening, Eater NOLA talks to each of the lucky thirteen on what to expect at their counter, and what they're most excited about at the new St. Roch Market.
Today, Eater talks to Tunde Wey, the overwhelming market favorite among his fellow vendors, about what inspired this wandering chef to settle in the Crescent City. Wey has been bringing his Nigerian cuisine to diners across the country, most recently in Detroit. His Lagos popups here in New Orleans over the past two years have been wildly popular, so when he was approached to participate in the St. Roch market, he knew he'd be able to call this home.
What all will you be offering at St. Roch Market?
West African cuisine, the food I ate growing up. and food I am discovering in my old age of 32. (Laughs) It's interesting serendipity to be in New Orleans, since the cuisine here was heavily influenced by these West African flavors and ingredients. The food will be regional - all these dishes are interpreted differently across each country, each tribe, each village, each family. There are so many little iterations and explorations that make this food what it is.
What's one dish that you're most excited to offer and why?
I'm excited to see how people receive my food, because culinary roots aside, there's really no reference point here, it doesn't really fit any boxes. As far as a specific dish goes, the Grand Opening of the Market will be a week after Good Friday, which inspired me to bring a special dish to me. My mother was Catholic and every Good Friday she would make this amazing black bean dish called frijohn, with coconut, fish, and a red tomato and pepper sauce. We would eat it every year, and it was so delicious I wondered why she didn't make it every day. I will be making it every day here, though.
What does St. Roch Market mean to you? Why did you apply for a vendor spot?
Well, as you know, I'm quoted heavily in the press about the market because I'm an international celebrity - (cracks up laughing) no! I'm kidding! That's just a joke. Seriously, though, Will and Barre are super cool, and when I did my popup here, they reached out. I loved the vibe of the market, and I wanted to be part of it. I've done a lot of travelling to different cities doing my popup. Travelling is great, but it's good to have a home. New Orleans is the best place to offer my cooking approach, because people here are interested in history but also experimentation.
What other vendor are you most excited about?
I'm excited about all of them. I can't wait for Dylan's juice, and Katie's Korean Creole food. I am really looking forward to eating lots of oysters and eating Korean jambalaya. It's hard to pick.