Film and TV

Sweat and Shrimp Heads: Behind the Scenes as Eat St. Films The Modular

It didn't matter that it was high noon on a weekday afternoon in crushing heat and humidity: The line of customers at Grand Prize wrapped from the rear of the Montrose bar all the way to the city sidewalk out front. Sweaty fans were lined up on the hot concrete in support of The Modular, the popular food truck that often parks outside the bar in the evenings, and -- of course -- for their chance to appear on TV.

Eat St., a new show from the Cooking Channel, was in Houston this past week to film a series of segments on the city's thriving food truck scene. The production team kicked off the week of filming at Grand Prize Bar on Thursday afternoon with The Modular and wrapped up yesterday with St. John's Fire at the Bo Concept furniture store. In between, the camera crew also hit Phamily Bites, The Waffle Bus, The Rice Box and Stick It.

After the crew wrapped up their final bits of filming (and in between water breaks inside the cool, dark confines of the bar), I headed out to do my own quick bit of filming for the show. The producers had invited food writers and food bloggers from across the city to film segments at each truck, and mine was fittingly at The Modular -- a truck I've loved and supported for years.

Hearing about my fondness for eating shrimp whole, head and all, the producers handed me a paper boat filled with The Modular's kimchi grits and head-on shrimp. In between juicy bites of shrimp heads, I explained how the city's food truck culture had been entrenched for years in the form of taco trucks and -- before that -- tamale vendors on Market Square downtown and how only recently had "ghetto gourmet" food like The Modular's taken off in Houston.

The producers nodded politely at my Rainman-style recitations before asking me to eat some more shrimp heads. Slowly this time, they said. Really take your time, and turn to the camera some more. There you go. Sweat trickled out of every pore as I stood in the heat of the midday sun, a collapsible reflector the color of C3P0 furnishing the heat of at least one additional sun onto my reddening face.

I ate another shrimp head. And another. Turning my mouth towards the camera, I did as I was told and made every effort to show how much I was enjoying the briny pop of sweetness beneath each crispy carapace. And thought vaguely that this must be how patient porn stars make their living in Arizona's burgeoning porn industry, sweating it out on white-hot concrete while trying to look as composed and excited as possible. But porn sets probably don't have food as good as the kimchi grits from The Modular.

Look for Eat St.'s Houston episode to air this fall, and check out more photos from the behind-the-scenes taping in our slideshow.

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Katharine Shilcutt