HOUSTON – Another day and more questions about the food fight at Hobby Airport.
It comes after acclaimed award-winning Houston chef Chris Shepherd told KPRC 2 Investigates in a statement: “I am not the culinary consultant for Areas, nor am I involved with them in any other capacity.”
Now, why is this a big deal?
Because the company that won a lucrative bid for Hobby concessions, Areas JV, claimed in its presentation to the city that it had Shepherd on board.
On page 5 of the summary it says: “Extensive work in the local community. Offers alternative dining options. ‘Culinary consultant’ is Chris Shepherd, a well-known chef from Houston.
“I had preliminary talks with them, but I never made a deal with them,” Shepard said.
He is now trying to find out why Areas used his name in the bidding process and says his legal team is now involved.
“My legal advisor is in communication with Areas and their advisors to assess the procedure. I cannot share any of that communication.”
A spokesman for Areas admits there was no contract.
“There is nothing in writing as his role would be formalized after site selection and contract approval,” the spokesperson said.
SEE ALSO: Council members delay vote to keep Pappas restaurants at Hobby Airport or go with Miami-based company
KPRC 2 is reaching out to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office regarding Shepherd’s comments.
In particular, the Mayor asks if he has any concerns about the proposal for areas that appear to have misled members of the council.
“While there appears to have been discussions between the parties, the City of Houston was not involved in the discussions. This was a competitive bidding process that was fair and clean,” said Mary Benton, Director of Communications for Mayor Turner.
What do councilors say?
KPRC 2 Investigates reached out to all sixteen members on Friday, but only five responded with comment.
Their comments are as follows:
“I am very concerned that the procurement of this contract could have been done with information that was incorrect. If this information was used as part of the procurement, it should be redone.” – Amy Peck, Council Member District A
“It’s worrying when you learn that this is not true. I don’t think we should vote on it.” – Mary Nan Huffman, Council Member District G
“We shouldn’t vote for it if the score was skewed by this.” – Robert Gallegos, Council Member District I
“I’m not happy with the appearance of deception from the Areas Group, so we’ll see what happens next week.” – Mike Knox, Council Member in Position 1
“I think we need to deny areas based on the lies of saying this award-winning chef was on their team,” Michael Kubosh, Council Member At-Large Position 3
Again, all City of Houston council members were contacted. We will update this article when they provide us with an answer to this 11th hour surprise development in one of the Houston Airports System’s most lucrative concession packages.
Full statement from Chris Shepherd below:
“I am not a culinary consultant for Areas, nor am I involved with them in any other way. I had preliminary talks with them, but I never entered into any agreement with them. The talks mostly revolved around support from the Southern Smoke Foundation, but nothing concrete ever materialized, nor was there any agreement, written or otherwise, on what it would be or look like. I look forward to engaging with whoever the ultimate winner is to help people in the restaurant industry in crisis. I do not want to make any further statements about not being involved in the process or distracting from the important decision the city will make and will continue to find out exactly how my name was involved in this process.”
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