Bryan Caswell: Houston's Best New Chef
How do i begin; excited, elated, humbled, floored, it doesnt even scratch the surface! Me? Houston? Really? (my 1st 3 words to Dana Cowin)
Photo courtesy of Wholefish Bryan Caswell in his trademark Astros ballcap
It's a major honor for a Texan-by-way-of-Louisiana, where our corner of the world is often ignored by major food awards and publications. But it's just the most recent of many recognitions that Caswell has garnered since leaving Bank -- where he worked under the legendary Jean-Georges Vongerichten -- to start his own seafood restaurant, Reef.
Taking an education at the Culinary Institute of America and combining it with years of East Texas family cooking, studies in New York City and Italy, and a love of seafood, Caswell and partner Bill Floyd opened Reef in June 2007. With an emphasis on fresh, local seafood and inventive cooking techniques (most nostably on display in Reef's heralded crispy-skinned snapper), the restaurant quickly caught the attention of Houston and the rest of the world.
In late 2008, Bon Appetit named Reef the best seafood restaurant in America. At the same time, Caswell himself was short-listed for a prestigious James Beard Award as "Best Chef: Southwest." The winner in that category -- along with all the others -- will be announced in early May.
As for bringing such attention to our city and to his passion for Gulf Coast cuisine, Caswell had simply this to say:
Thanks for all the congrats! I love this town, me encanta mi ciudad, te amo Houston!