Stalking Top Chef

Burning Top Chef Seattle Questions: Which Whole Foods?

Hey, nobody ever accused me of having a life.

By Allecia Vermillion June 26, 2012

Interbay? Bellevue? Discuss amongst yourselves. Photo via Whole Foods.

Rumor has it that everyone’s favorite overly wrought culinary show begins filming in Seattle this week. And before we had scouts at Melrose Market and Padma Lakshmi spotted dining at MistralKitchen to obsess about, one of the first questions to pop up on Twitter and in random conversations was, which Whole Foods? The feel-goody organic market partners up with the show each season; it’s where the chef contestants go shopping before cooking challenges, and where word usually first leaks when the film crew sets up shop inside (which, by the way, we’d love to hear about).

Here’s a brief rundown on the pros, cons, and likelihood for each Seattle-area location.

It’s hip, it’s urban, it’s close to South Lake Union and generally Seattle-ish areas where the chefs might be lodging (what are the odds the Magical Elves folk can conjure up a houseboat that sleeps 24?). However the cramped interior and narrow aisles could make filming a challenge. Plus that underground parking garage isn’t exactly an inspiring backdrop for the fleet of Toyota product placement vehicles that squire around the contestants.

This location is huge by urban standards, with a giant parking lot for vehicle porn, and roomy aisles where film crews won’t miss a second of panicky contestants wrestling over short ribs. Plus it’s close to Seattle-appropriate maritime panoramas, while still being well inside the city.

Okay, this outpost has a decent location, but the inside is hectic and cramped and the exterior is less than awe-inspiring compared with some others in the area. Also: things do get real in that parking lot. Though this store is reliably sold out of everything, which could make for some nail-biting ingredient improvisation drama. Still, it’s unlikely.

Massively resplendent, this location can accommodate fleets of Toyota Siennas outside, and the interior is spacious enough to provide whatever funky ingredients might be necessary to make a five-course meal out of geoduck, plus allow camera crews to capture every last elbow thrown at the seafood counter. But would the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau appreciate shelling out several hundred thousand dollars, only to give Bellevue a moment in the spotlight?

Much like Bellevue, this store is majorly spacious inside and out. And it’s perhaps a little less crowded. But c’mon—that’s getting a little far from Seattle. A Redmond location might be convenient if the production company does indeed have quarters (and maybe the Top Chef kitchen) in a nearby office park. And if contestants are lodged in some hip Seattle digs, think of all the fun shots of promotionally provided Toyotas crossing the 520 bridge. But it’s still kind of a rip to bill a show as Top Chef Seattle, then shuttle everyone to Redmond. Maybe the chefs will shop here for some sort of “open a food truck on the Microsoft campus” challenge where everyone talks to each other on a Windows phone and plots their menu on a Surface.

Yeah, that’s not happening.

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