QUEENS, May 2017—Oh, mysterious wonderland of food and culture! Not so mysterious to the millions of people who live there—just across the river from where I’ve lived most of my life.

I am a bad New Yorker. I’m seldom here. People ask me where the best places to go are and I tend to fall back on the old standards, places I’ve been going for years. Hot new places? Don’t ask me.

I’m not a party boy. When I’m in New York, I’m working, I’m hanging out with my 10-year-old daughter (which means she decides where we go out to eat), or I’m keeping my head down and resting up for the next shoot.

So it’s irritating to me—embarrassing really—that I don’t know more of Queens—where the Chinese restaurants are better and more numerous than Manhattan’s, where their Koreatown is better than our Koreatown, where cooks and cultures from all over the world collide and mix in glorious ways.

I thought it was time to find out more.

It’s America—when America was still seen and believed to be an idea: a place for people from all over the world to be free, to better their lives, to build a new future. To say such things these days is unpopular. But Queens, I hope, is an argument for the founders’ original intent, a place where America still offers the world something of inestimable value: hope—and in return, receives so much.