In the day-before the competition tour of the park, the contestants feasted on food brought in by This is It, the longtime soul food favorite that is now in the Third Ward. Many Houstonians will remember its nearly four-decade tenure on Gray Street just west of Bagby, at the juncture of Midtown and the Fourth Ward. Having This is It was an especially good choice. Not only a long-popular place broadly fitting the show’s theme, it began life in the late 1950s a scant two blocks west at 1003 Andrews Street. That fact wasn’t mentioned in the show.
I actually saw the filming of the episode, or rather the outside of the filming on a Chamber of Commerce day last fall. I live even closer to the site than the original location of This is It and that morning noticed one of the adjacent streets blocked off with police officers in front and much of the exterior of the park covered in tarp. That was odd. The public park is essentially only open for private events, but having the its entire half-block obscured from view was quite unusual. But, the filming did turn out well.
Though I don’t get invited to too many things anymore, as there are no longer local Zagat editors and the my food writing output is rather scant these days, I was somewhat miffed I didn’t get one for that. It was just a very short stroll down the street after all and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi actually appeared in back-to-back snippets in The Food That Built America on The History Channel. It was an episode entitled “Pizza Wars” that initially aired earlier this year. She was very polished and gorgeous, and I was rather the opposite; it had been a while since I had been in front of the cameras. And it might be a while until the next time. A cameo in something filmed in my neighborhood would have been quite cool, even with no speaking lines.