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Top Chef Gets $375,000 From NOLA and Louisiana (Using BP Oil Spill Recovery Funds)

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Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Here's more news on Top Chef's decision to head to New Orleans for its eleventh season. The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana and the city of New Orleans tourism offices are giving Bravo $375,000 to sponsor the recently announced Top Chef: New Orleans. The Louisiana Office of Tourism will contribute $200,000 while the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation will contribute $175,000.

More surprising than the amount of money the government is spending to get Tom, Padma, and the cheftestapants in town is how the government got it in the first place. Instead of taxpayer funds, Louisiana's $200,000 sponsorship will be drawn from a recovery fund that oil giant BP set up after 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It's unclear at this time how Top Chef is a part of "state and local response costs and claims, and natural resource damages and related costs."

In exchange for the money, Louisiana is getting its own season of Top Chef and guaranteed exposure for cities outside of New Orleans. A government official told the Times-Picayune that "We negotiated some things into that agreement [with Top Chef], the biggest part of which was at least two of the challenges will take place outside of the New Orleans area, to showcase other parts of the state." Was the early announcement one of the "some things" Louisiana negotiated into the contract?

It isn't an unexpected turn. Bravo's media statement mentioned that they were announcing the next season of Top Chef "in partnership with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Louisiana Office of Tourism." Besides, city sponsorship isn't new for Top Chef. For Top Chef Texas, San Antonio paid $200,000 and the state of Texas paid $400,000. Seattle also contributed $300,000 to have Top Chef film there last season.

Though Top Chef has not yet announced when the NOLA season will air — it hasn't even started to shoot yet — a statement from the New Orleans Marketing Tourism Corp. suggests that the show will run in the Fall (as it has in past seasons). A representative from the agency says that the Top Chef partnership "will give us additional legs in the fall, additional exposure for the city."

· State, local tourism offices paying $375,000 to underwrite 'Top Chef: New Orleans' [The Times-Picayune]
· All Top Chef New Orleans Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Top Chef Coverage on Eater [-E-]