It looks like there might be a reason that Top Chef: Texas could skip Houston.
Eater's Amber Ambrose has an explosive story about the filming decisions that may have led Top Chef to other parts of Texas, with an anonymous source alleging that airtime was subject to a pay-for-play situation. According to Eater, Top Chef planned a episode each in Dallas, Houston and Austin, with the remaining four episodes shot based on what city wanted to pay for the placement. Eater names the agency soliciting offers as Dallas-based TM Advertising and implies that San Antonio spent the cash to host the majority of the season.
Holly Clapham with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau confirmed to CultureMap that a marketing agency did approach the city last year with an offer to film Top Chef here but it was declined because of the high price tag. Clapham wouldn't disclose the figure or the name of the agency. She said it was not Top Chef or Bravo.
Clapham stressed that she felt "pay-for-play" descriptions were a little dramatic — "we call it 'cost with opportunity,'" she said— but felt the price tag was too high to participate without an official sponsorship.
"It's ... not normal for a production company to work with a marketing team," Clapham said.
Clapham said the GHCVB has had no other contact with Bravo or Top Chef and doesn't know if the show will end up shooting in Houston. She also said she can't speak for the other Texas cities as to whether or not they were approached or chose to pay.
Are you surprised that Bravo destinations go to the highest bidder? (Really? Even after Top Chef had a finale in Puerto Rico?) Does this mean that Houston is getting at least one Top Chef: Texas episode? And if so, what are the chances that Monica Pope and/or Bryan Caswell won't appear?