Padma Lakshmi Defends Filming “Top Chef” In Texas As Other Productions Refuse To Shoot There

September 23, 2021 / Posted by:

Earlier this month, the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott signed the Texas Heartbeat Act, a ban on abortion after the six-week mark. The THA makes it possible for any regular person to snitch on and sue anyone performing or facilitating these illegal abortions. To put it mildly, it’s all kinds of fucked up. And so because of this some Hollywood productions have decided not to put money into the state and have refused to film there. This happened to Georgia in 2019 when the state banned most abortions after six weeks, and several productions pulled filming and moved to other states, with others saying they wouldn’t begin shooting in Georgia until that law was changed. Now it’s Texas’ turn for a little boycott, but not everyone is interested in moving elsewhere. Top Chef recently announced that their upcoming 19th season will be filmed in Houston, Texas. Naturally, some people really weren’t feeling that. But Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi piped up and explained that everyone should chill because what they’re doing at Top Chef is good, not bad.

Here’s Top Chef’s original announcement about setting Season 19 in Houston, which was almost immediately met with criticism, with Top Chef fans asking if they couldn’t have found literally any other state to film in:

Top Chef is known to mix it up with the filming locations, having previously shot seasons in cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Boston, Miami, Portland, and states like Kentucky, Colorado, and Texas. So, they have filmed in Texas before. It’s not like this was a now-or-never situation. But they likely planned to shoot in Houston before THA went into law. Regardless of time constraints, pre-production meetings, or how many crew jackets they got embroidered with the words Top Chef 19 TEXAS TIME, Padma argues it’s still very important to be filming in Texas right now. Especially a reality competition show about making food. Padma says that Texans are facing more than just that shitty abortion bill and that Top Chef gives exposure to the people who are worst affected by discriminatory laws.

One person who won’t have to do so much work to convince you why it’s ok to still be filming in Texas is David Simon, creator of The Wire. During the 2019 Georgia boycott, David was very vocal in his belief that Georgia wouldn’t be getting a dime of production money from him. David is currently working on a non-fiction series set in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, but he announced on Twitter that he has no plans to step foot in Texas to film there. When the Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office mentioned that pulling production would disenfranchise workers in film, he explained that he’s not punishing anyone, but looking out for the civil liberties of all members of his film crew. And then when people started accusing him of playing politics, he started dragging haters left and right.

Clearly, there’s no middle ground here; you’re either filming in Texas or your not. But it’s not too late for Top Chef to switch locations, should producers and Padma get tired of receiving messages from people asking if they really want Bravo to dump money into the state. And let’s be honest – it’s easy to have a food show in a food city like Houston. Why not make Season 19 a real challenge for the contestants? Let’s see how much culinary inspiration can be squeezed out of a place like Duluth, Minnesota. Contestants, you have 45 minutes to put your unique spin on a traditional Hotdish casserole, and your dish must include at least one pound of ground meat and one can of sloppy condensed soup. Go!


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