Bryan Caswell: No Pity

Last night, half of Houston tuned in to watch Chef Bryan Caswell of REEF and Little Big's represent the Bayou City on the Food Network's newest show: Next Iron Chef.

I didn't watch it. I was catcalling people from the back of a banquet room at the Hilton during the otherwise classy My Table Houston Culinary Awards. I probably wouldn't have watched it anyway, seeing as how the rabbit ears on top of my television barely pick up PBS, let alone cable TV.

But my sainted mother dutifully called me this morning to "report" on the show: "They were on a beach, with a green egg, and it took an hour to get this stupid fucking cooker going and MING TSAI WAS A CONTESTANT AND OH MY GOD HE'S TOO GOOD FOR THIS SHIT. Also, Bryan's face looked puffy."

So I still have little to no idea what happened on last night's episode or even how it's structured. I do understand that whomever wins the entire thing goes on to be the Food Network's next Iron Chef on the popular TV show that ripped off a Japanese classic, much the same way as everything on NBC was ripping off British sitcoms for a while.

I routinely turn to Television Without Pity (TWoP) for the few TV shows that I do watch for recaps and lively discussion in the mondo TWoP forums, where the motto is "Spare the snark, spoil the networks." I headed over there this morning to see what the Pity people had to say about our own Bryan Caswell. A sampling of the nation's reaction to Houston's own is below.

"Happy to see Bryan Caswell -- hope he lasts a long time." - MerBear

"Really happy that Ming Tsai is on and I have someone to strongly root for. Worried that his style is a bit dated though. I'm not sure he's the favorite going up against the likes of Bryan Caswell and Marco Canora, to say nothing of the others. Also very worried like sloopster that he turns out to be a dick." - Durazo

"Haate pigtail chef who chose pig. She should've gone home just for being annoying." - Qui [Okay, this one had nothing to do with Caswell, I just found it amusing.]

...and that's pretty much it. The rest of the comments seemed focused exclusively on Ming Tsai, which leads to the inevitable question: Is Tsai just a plant on the show, someone whom the Food Network execs fully planned to make the next Iron Chef anyway, but decided to make a competition out of it just for the ratings? In other words, does Caswell stand a real chance at all?

This is the network that makes poor Bobby Flay -- one of their original Iron Chefs -- travel around the country getting his ass kicked by anyone with a Coleman grill, so I wouldn't put any of this past them.

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