Monday, July 25, 2011

TC News and Information 7.25.11 - Confirmed: Season 9 Now Filming!

Bravo confirmed Season 9 filming is underway in this post on its website Thursday (7/21) soliciting Quickfire Challenge suggestions (no indication of the deadline for submitting your ideas via twitter).

While that item from Bravo’s The Dish remained elusive about the filming location, there’s not much room left for doubt that Season 9’s locale will be not be a single city – a la TC Chicago, TC D.C., TC Miami, etc. – but several cities in the State of Texas.

A blog post by SymiGoddess titled “The Night Bravo Told Me to Stop Tweeting” got the rumor-mongering train started. Her tale of what happened when this avid TC fan and twitterer stopped in at San Antonio’s oldest bar and stumbled upon Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Tre Wilcox, Emeril Lagasse, and, ahem, Gail Simmons the night of June 27 is quite a read.

As usual, has been all over the story, reporting that TC9 will include San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Houston. You can find a round-up of Eater’s reports and links to original sources here, including chefs rumored to be participating.

Austin Culture Map has also confirmed that “Top Chef’s Producer and Assistant Producer bivouacked at the W Dallas the week of July 4th,” that TC alum and All-Star Casey Thompson was recently in town, and that the TC crew would be filming at Austin’s Driskill Hotel July 21. Here’s another location that sounds likely: There’s a branch of the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio “set among cinematic 19th century buildings once part of the Pearl Brewery, and equipped with two state of the art studio kitchens wired for sound and taping,” according to ACM.

Eater uncovered some convoluted allegations that Texas cities were asked to pony up money to serve as locations for the upcoming season. This item claims the Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau was approached last October to participate in a “nine-episode season, two episodes would be out of state (presumably the finale), one would be in Dallas, one in Austin, one in Houston, and the rest to be determined... all depending on who wanted to pay for the privilege.” In Eater's follow-up investigation, Houston, Dallas, and Austin organizations all denied providing outright cash – but confirmed they had indeed been approached to film Top Chef in their cities.

Given the sponsorship and product-placement palooza TC is, I’m not surprised by these allegations. What does have me shaking my head is the idea of a Top Chef season with only seven episodes prior to the finale. Since that was reportedly from last October, I’m going to chalk it up as being part of preliminary overtures and remain highly skeptical that Top Chef Season 9 will run that short. Other than Seasons 1 and 2, despite varying numbers of contestants, each season has run 12 episodes excluding finale episodes.

Then there’s Restaurant Wars. In most recent seasons other than All-Stars, Restaurant Wars has run as Episode 9, with three more epis to follow. But a California pre-school tried to offer on Ebay two tickets to attend the upcoming RW episode (with proceeds going to benefit the school), with these caveats: “At this time the location information is confidential. The location and US city for this segment will be revealed to the winner only after payment has been received and all waivers & NDA’s that are sent to the winner are signed and confirmed. You and your guest will need to be in location city on very short-trigger following close of bidding; must be prepared to make short-trigger airfare and accommodation arrangements to participate in this experience the last week of July, 2011.”

Bidding, which ended July 21, was to start at $5,000. A “buy it now” option of $15,000 was also offered. But Ebay is showing that no bids were tendered. Hmmm. Too pricey? Or too confidential even to disclose bids? In any case, Eater has somehow deduced that Restaurant Wars will be filming on July 26 and anticipates the location will be in Austin.

Also on July 21, Pee-Wee Herman announced very publicly at Comic Con that he will be filming a Top Chef episode at the Alamo (in San Antonio), as in “getting on a plane” presumably shortly thereafter, according to attendees.

Filming a Top Chef season typically takes 4-6 weeks (excluding the finale, which is filmed after a hiatus), and we’re already in that range. So, a 7-episode (plus finale) season in Texas? I don’t think so. My guess is that Bravo and the Magical Elves are looking “to go big or go home,” especially after the All-Stars season, and other than maybe an amuse-bouche Quickfire with a Texas twist, there won’t be anything “miniature” about Top Chef Texas.

Are you looking forward to the next season of Top Chef? What do you think about it being filmed in Texas? Let us know in the comments.

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theminx said...

Pee Wee Herman? Yay!

Kristine said...

Still love it.

Anonymous said...

Another of the contestants for Top Chef 9 is Chef Keith Rhodes, Wilmington, NC owner of the award winning Catch Restaurants. He has won many awards through the years and most recently is a James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast.