Eater: Top Chef "Texas" Coming to Houston After All?

Categories: TV

key_art_top_chef2.jpg
Yesterday afternoon, Amber Ambrose broke two interesting pieces of news on Eater regarding Top Chef's current tour through Texas as it films for its next season.

"Today, the tipline brings the rumor that after shooting in Dallas (where they are presently) and then Austin, the show will also shoot in Houston," Ambrose wrote.

She continued: "But it gets better: In researching whether or not Houston was going to be a location for Top Chef, a source confided to Eater the allegation of a pay-to-play situation in which a company negotiated with the Houston Convention and Visitor's Bureau for cash in exchange for shooting in the city."

"We never had any discussions with Top Chef or Bravo," said Holly Clapham, vice president of marketing for the Houston Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB), on the phone yesterday in response. "No one has reached out to us or told us that they were coming."

Clapham called the "pay-for-play" allegations from Eater "a little harsh," as well as "a little bit stressed and a little bit dramatic." She did note, however, that a production company had been in touch with the CVB about underwriting one Top Chef episode devoted to Houston. The CVB's marketing department declined, however, with Clapham saying that "It's not something we would normally underwrite," both due to the amount of money requested and the editorial content of the episode.

"You have to be very careful how you spend your money," she said, referring to the economic troubles that have tightened everyone's belt.

And if the tip that Top Chef is indeed coming to Houston is true, Clapham said that neither she nor the rest of her staff in the marketing department at the CVB were aware of it. The Houston Press's own tip line has been completely silent on this matter as well, without even a single peep from any of our usual suspects.

"To tell you the truth," Clapham said, "we're still trying to understand how this is unfolding. We, too, are seeking out information."

Regardless, it simply doesn't make sense for the show to skip Houston entirely, especially taken in context with the knowledge that Top Chef's production company was at least scouting Houston at one point.

Alison Cook had an eloquent dissertation on 29-95 as to why Top Chef shouldn't miss our city, as well as an explanation of sorts as to why it might: Tom Colicchio's chain of Craft restaurants has a location in Dallas, but not Houston. And Hanna Raskin, writing for the Seattle Weekly, defended Houston as well, saying: "Houston may be more deserving of the attention" than Austin, although she didn't seem hopeful that the producers of the show recognized this fact.

But here's the real, basic, fundamental reason it would be simply silly for Top Chef to blow past the Bayou City: We're the fourth largest city in the nation, and by far the largest in Texas. To film an entire season of a show in Texas and pass up Houston would just be surreal. And despite the dearth of tips, I wouldn't be surprised if all the hullabaloo was over nothing, and the Top Chef crew did make a surprise appearance here after all.

On the other hand, it would be very interesting to hear an excuse from Bravo or NBC Universal if that didn't happen, especially in the face of all the exciting and unique culinary adventures that await in the plains and bayous of our gloriously vibrant city.

Clapham agrees: "This is something that we think is a great opportunity and we have a great culinary scene."

"I think it should be Top Chef: Houston," she laughed.

So do we all.



Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
39 comments
Jeff
Jeff

I'm still waiting for someone to explain why Dallas and its endless suburban hell shoots better than downtown Houston, the museum district or Memorial. Anyone?

ostiones
ostiones

Did anyone stop and think about what kind of show they might produce?  I hate the stereotype, cowboy hat, boot wearing shows I've seen on Food Network and other places.  There is no reason to believe Bravo would be any different.  I have no faith in the producers showing the real Houston.  Maybe it's better they don't come.

Chef Jazmin
Chef Jazmin

I love watching the food network and top chef, but I am very disappointed on how Houston seems to get treated. I am the executive chef and owner of Takuma Japanese Grill, its a fusion grill with latin and caribbean flavors. I auditioned for top chef a few months ago and they sounded very interested, they kept writing down information while they did not pay much attention to the people around me. I felt like I had a good chance being one of the few female hispanic hibachi chefs in houston and owning a restaurant at 25yrs old. There is a lot of great talent and uniqueness in houston, it just doesn't get promoted well on tv. Takuma has been very lucky to have such a high response in this economy, we have had excellent reviews and people always comment on how our food is what you would see on tv. If we cant get TV recognition for Houston, at least support your local talent by visiting non chain restaurants… we love what we do, come check us out  www.takumajapanesegrill.com.

'stina
'stina

Isn't the most likely person to know about Top Chef filming in Houston going to be the only chef from Houston to be on a Top Chef competition? 

H_e_x
H_e_x

This is not going to end up being annoying, no way....They will focus in on Austin, with one or two shot trips to other cities. I bet they will rave about the tacos in Austin as well, as if they knew a damn thing about tacos.

J. Britt Alexander
J. Britt Alexander

have to agree with SirRon and Chef5504 -

...and let me go down on the record as a LOVER of Houston. Born and raised here... recently returned after being gone 15 years....

As stated- Houston just does not make for compelling TV.

---Dallas had a famous TV show that is about to get a huge reboot (thanks TNT). -- ((not to mention Bravo is launching another show called Dallas' Most Eligible))--Austin is, well, a great locale for shooting TV, and movies, and reality shows, and weddings and everything else that has put Austin at the top of very list in the universe. --San Antonio is what people from outside of Texas WANT to see when they hear Texas on a TV show.

If you wanted to do Houston justice, it would require a deep-dive into the city and what makes it great. it's not a story that can be told in a 3 minute segment... and if they tried it would be very "meh!" .

People know Houston for space, money and oil - not real estate, recognizable locales and celebrity chefs These things take a locals appreciation and a locals eye... and thank God we all live here every day to appreciate it.

Having lived in Austin, Miami, and Chicago... I for one am glad that we don't pop up on every travel show and reality TV backdrop,. It makes telling people where I live a lot nicer of an experience that dispelling the stereotypes they see on Bravo and MTV.

.. here's a challenge. You have three minutes and 2 locations to present Houston to the US. Where you gonna do it ? - GO!

John Kiely
John Kiely

It's all about camera framing.  After my New York mother-in-law saw the original Thelma's on Food Network, she was bustin' to go.  After she walked through the raggedy screen door, it was a whole different show.

chef504
chef504

Let me weigh in on the topic. I am a chef in Houston and have been for a bit, but before I lived here I was in NOLa, NYC, and a few other places. Houston just doesn't shoot well. It's a large city that has no identity. It has money and no zoning. I can say, that it's some of the great people that I love in this city, and not the city itself. Houston as a city acts more like a pestilent child than anything else. Washington corridor, hello. We really don't even have the Trose anymore. Houston is a city of sad suburb reality, and all the horrible trappings that come with it. So do I hate Houston? I couldn't give two shits about the city, but some of the people I love. It's difficult to love anything that has not found its identity yet.    

Am_Bro_Se
Am_Bro_Se

Squeaky wheel may have procured Houston's spot on next season of Top Chef...among other things. Passionate people getting riled up about stuff tends to get noticed. Also - props to the CVB for being smart and holding out. 

SirRon
SirRon

From a TV production standpoint, I could tell you why Houston isn't as attractive as Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, but I have to believe that deep in your hearts most of you know why. Obviously, our great restaurants and nearly unmatched value on the menus is not something that really translates to good TV.

This is great drama for those of us that consume food related media (I'm not knocking the coverage by you guys), but all the whining and Houston pride crap is weak.

I've poured the gas...

SirRon
SirRon

The skyline. Bigger media market. The name itself.

Just a few things that quickly come to mind.

J. Britt Alexander
J. Britt Alexander

"" and its endless suburban hell "" - ps, have you been outside the loop?

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Brenners on the Bayou.  The bayou itself near downtown.  By the falls at Williams tower.  Memorial Park.  Anywhere on Memorial with the backdrop of DT.  And those are just the outdoor possibilities.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

If you're really a chef here, then identify yourself.  I hate people's lack of accountability when they post crap on here.

trose
trose

So you're a chef in Houston but in your paragraph long wandering critique of the city you don't mention a single restaurant or local chef?  Probably not putting a lot of stock in what you're saying. Also, the beauty of Houston is there are great photographic locations everywhere. If you haven't taken the time to find the places I'm speaking of then you certainly don't deserve to be told.

SirRon
SirRon

Amber, I don't disagree totally. I don't know where the line of demarcation is between passion and whiny campaigning. The buffer zone is probably pretty wide.

Do we know for sure that Top Chef wasn't just holding their cards close? After all, people didn't even know about any of the Texas shooting until after the crew was spotted in SA, right?

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

San Antonio?  Because of the Alamo and RTverwalk?

Fenterman
Fenterman

SirRon, why do you hate Houston so much??

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Maybe it's because I've lived here far too long, but I see beauty everywhere I look in Houston. I see a lot of ugliness, too, but it makes the beauty that much more strongly defined and it makes me appreciate the beauty that much more.

However, to your point, this does not translate at all into good TV.  :D

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

The Skyline?  Surely you jest.  Dallas is nothing but miles and miles of suburbs, tollways and TGI Fridays.  Unless you're idea of a good skyline is a neon monstocity, a big sparkly ball, and some dumbass building that looks straight from the Hollywood Squares set, I'd have to say you're mistaken.

SirRon
SirRon

Ugh. Seriously. Homer. :)

chef504
chef504

petulant. Thanks Katharine. Damn auto correct.  

SirRon
SirRon

That is what most non-Texans (and maybe some Texans too) want to see. Not Bellaire Blvd or a dilapidated and condemned Astrodome.

SirRon
SirRon

If places I've only lived as a child count, I've lived in Abilene, DFW (Arlington), Chicago (Arlington Heights), New Orleans (Mandeville), Austin, and Houston. I've also done a lot of traveling. I don't hate Houston. I'm not smarter than Shilcutt.I just have perspective, and it's also subjective. I'm doing what commenters are supposed to do down here. I think.

SirRon
SirRon

KS... you get what I'm saying. The things that are great about Houston don't translate to TV (especially when "city love" segments will only be a handful of seconds each in forty something minute show.

I advocate loving Houston. From a lifestyle standpoint, I think it is 10x a city like Dallas. I don't advocate the whining about people not loving Houston. That's not Texan, IMO. (although aggies do the same thing about their school, but I loathe aggies too ;) jkjkjk)

All the blustering just makes us look bad. You know who whines about being #1? #2, #3, etc..

You know who doesn't whine about being #1? #1.

tee-wee
tee-wee

His Ron-ness is right on here. "If you could combine all the buildings scattered across the city" brings to mind aunts with balls, only they're still not your uncle. I don't think any of us really need outside reinforcement of our likes/dislikes to survive. I would prefer to live in Austin, but I think Houston is a far superior city in so many ways it's not even close. Different strokes...

J. Britt Alexander
J. Britt Alexander

why hasn't Houston fallen into the Gulf yet?   (because Dallas Sucks)  

J. Britt Alexander
J. Britt Alexander

... favorite downtown view.  and I see it every afternoon on the drive home.  Studemont / Montrose bridge over Memorial Drive to Allen Parkway.   -   get stuck at that light every day.   Gazing over with the Federal Reserve in the slight foreground.   Beautiful view.  

SirRon
SirRon

I would argue that most people know the location you are talking about. Did I mention San Antonio has the Alamo, Austin has lakes, and Dallas sucks?

ostiones
ostiones

Drive up Memorial toward downtown and check out view, if you know where Memorial goes into downtown, I don't think most people do.  I see that view on everthing from national news, to food network, even animal planet.  Houston has 78 buldings over 100 meters, Dallas, 40.  If you could combine all the buildings scattered across the city, including Williams Tower, the tallest building outside a downtown, and you have a skyline next to Chicago. 

http://www.emporis.com/applica...

SirRon
SirRon

The Dallas skyline is more recognizable. Houston's is harder to see too, you know with the smog in HD and all. :)

J. Britt Alexander
J. Britt Alexander

gotta agree with Ron again.  If I took the Dallas Skyline and the Houston Skyline..   Went to New York and showed 10 people on the street.  Dallas would be the easier one chose.  Every time.  -  Reunion Tower (do they even call it that anymore)  "The Ball"  made that hapen.   Case in point.  And this is ALL OVER TNT Networks now.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

How, exactly, is being pissed off that a show calling itself "Top Chef Texas" might not even bother with the largest city "whining?"  I'm pretty sure the other cities would be pissed as well.

SirRon
SirRon

Squeaky wheel method works, but sometimes at the expense of integrity. I think there should be coverage of this situation, but sometimes it crosses the line into "poor me" territory.

If you know you are great, do you need the attention? Some things do happen organically. Isn't it a great feeling when someone reads one of your pieces and nominates it for an award? Sending the piece for consideration is fine (just an example, I'm ignorance of the process). Knocking on doors, calling, campaigning, etc. for an award takes some of the distinction out of the award.

Of course, if you are all about recognition at any cost, then you might be from Dallas ;)

Like I've said, some of the whining represents exactly the opposite of what I like about Houston.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I do get what you're saying.

However, to change topics ever so slightly, what do you think would be the best way for Houston to garner more attention for itself -- squeaky wheel-style -- without sounding "whiny," as it were? Not being argumentative; just curious.  :)

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...