By now, the news that Houston's own Bryan Caswell will have his own four-episode show on the Food Network has worked its buzzy way through Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the Internet.
Starting in May, the busy chef will be hosting a run of food competition-themed shows called Best in Smoke. No matter that Caswell himself isn't a barbecue guy (his restaurants in Houston feature Gulf seafood, sliders and Tex-Mex -- we were hoping he'd turn up hosting a great outdoors-style show, showing viewers how to cook what he caught, Texas-style), it'll just be good to see a familiar face on our TV screens.
But Caswell isn't the only new face coming to the Food Network.
Eater has a roundup of all the new shows that both the Food Network and its sister station, the Cooking Channel, will be featuring this year. And while there are some definite lows, there are also a few highs.
The lowest of the lows already appears to be Guy vs. Rachael's Celebrity Smackdown. Seemingly in an effort to make America dislike these two antagonistic personalities even more (despite the fact that Rachael Ray herself, off camera, is a true badass and a woman I'd gladly drink a beer with), the Food Network has created a show that...well...no one seems to know exactly what the show will do with its two stars. Even Variety is stumped. Regardless of the direction the show takes, you have to question the network's decision to purposely acerbate viewers by taking two of its most reviled stars and throwing them into an arena, gladiator-style.
Bread and circuses, people!
On the high end, however, is Pioneer Women, a daytime show that will star none other than food blogger extraordinaire Ree Drummond herself. The show will be based on her blog and recipes, which was one of the first food blogs I ever read -- and still read to this day. Back in November 2010, Drummond appeared on Bobby Flay's Throwdown and apparently impressed the suits so much, she was given her own show. And love or hate her, Drummond's story of moving from pampered big city life to life on a working cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere makes for pretty compelling reading. How will it translate to TV? That remains to be seen.
Of course, you can just wait for the movie, starring Reese Witherspoon, to come out.
Back on the local front, former EOW blogger Jay Francis is following in Drummond's footsteps and will soon be appearing on Throwdown himself. The show is coming to film him on April 22, and Francis is hard at work perfecting a recipe for a tandoori chicken marinade with Bhut Jolokia chiles.
Will Jay Francis, food explorer, be the next Food Network star after this show?
That depends on whether or not anyone survives eating the world's hottest pepper. Flay and his team won't know what hit them...
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