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Top Chef’s literary challenge was the site of “threatening,” “harassing” protests

Top Chef Boston‘s literary elimination challenge on last week’s episode was filmed in June at Steel and Rye, a restaurant in Milton, Mass., where Teamsters protested the show’s use of non-union crews in a way that was “threatening, heckling and harassing,” the local police chief told Deadline. He also said that 14 crew member cars had their tires slashed.

In a statement released after Deadline revealed the protests, the Teamsters Local 25 said “The Top Chef situation as it is written is fiction at best. As a union, we have the right to lawfully demonstrate and protest the filming of non-union non-Massachusetts workers.” A Teamsters spokesperson denied the harassment, saying “it didn’t happen” to The Boston Globe, which reported that it confirmed Deadline’s report with its own sources.

One member of the crew told Deadline just how horrifying the experience was:

“As any employee of our show walked on or off set, the picketers verbally attacked us, calling the gays ‘fags,’ the blacks ‘niggers’ and most of the women ‘sluts and whores.’ It got worse as the day went on. They chased us down the sidewalk when we had to run from one end of the location to the next in the middle of our busy work day. They threatened to kill us, beat us, and said that they would find us and force us out of the city. Needless to say, we were terrified. I’m a strong person, but being called names and yelled at and harassed for 12 hours while working, I started to crumble. I was scared and worried for my safety.

Meanwhile, the executive producers, the representatives from the network, the production management, and the line producers stood by and did nothing. They never addressed the problem with the staff, or apologized for putting us in such a bad situation. They never called a meeting with us, or sent the employees an email acknowledging what a terrible situation they put us all in.”

One of the diners present alerted me to the connection between the protests and Wednesday’s episode. In less-important news, he also told me that some diners disagreed with the judges’ decisions. Ed Goode writes:

“I was there and the group I was with had different opinions about the food than the judges.

Our pick for best tasting/most creative dish was Katsuji’s plate. We knew right away who the author was (though we didn’t know who made it). It was phenomenal! This was one dish everyone in the dining room ate and laughed about.

Our pick for worse was Dougie Carrot Soup. As someone in the group said, the soup was as boring as Emily Dickinson’s life.

Mei’s plate was a hit because of the Charred Onion Soil. We could have eaten that all day.

The other dishes were forgettable.

This episode was filmed at the Steel and Rye Restaurant. During the filming, the teamsters were outside trying to cause a scene.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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