MasterChef: Cooking Outdoors and Eclairs

Just some notes on the most recent episode on MasterChef (aka Survivor Chef) shown on 24 Jul 2013.

*Perhaps Fox is considering a new show called Survivor Chef. Contestants would be taken a remote location in a wilderness, force them to cook one stellar meal with limited tools and food, declare a winner, and have the losing team decides who gets voted off.

*Krissi once again shows how nice she is by declaring she does not like Bri. So when the two teams are formed up initially, she is not on the team lead by Bri. Unfortunately Gordon decided to do the captain switch so she ended up on Bri’s team anyway.

*Each team had bare essentials and one protein to cook. Bri choose rabbit and Natasha got pigeon. They had one iron pan and limited pantry.

*Krissi actually made pasta, a daring feat considering the limitations

*Both teams did well by MasterChef standards but in the end Team Natasha won with their braised pigeon. Gordon like Bri’s better (rabbit with pasta) but was outvoted.

Classical éclair
Charles Haynes(Flickr)

*The pressure test had them cook eclairs. I had an éclair a long time ago and disliked it. Initially it was Krissi, Jordan, Bri, and Jessi that faced the dreaded test. In an unusual twist, they had the winning team decide who should be saved. Saved: Krissi. Their thinking was Krissi was the weakest. That left two strong contenders, Jordan and Jessi and one vegetarian to to make the dreaded eclairs.

Not one of them got it right but Jordan’s were the best of a bad lot. Jessi and Bri were on the bottom and both could have gone home. Bri’s though was more raw than Jessi’s, so she was sent home.

My Thoughts

No surprise  Bri was sent home. I pegged either her or Luca as the next one going home. Jessi ending up in the same boat as Bri was a surprise. Then again, those eclairs are tough to make. Jordan just barely escaped being in the bottom two.

The outdoor challenge was not that interesting to me. It was one of the few times we see the cheftestants forced to be together for a very long time (overnight). In Hell’s Kitchen it is staple we see them both in the kitchen and back in the dormitory. Not so on MasterChef. Outside of the challenges and their confessionals, we do not seem them anyplace else. We saw both teams trying to figure out their strategy for cooking. Obviously they were given gear to camp for the night.

I also thought it just a bit pretentious they had to set up a table with a white cloth. This is outside folks! Think casual.

I also hope MasterChef is not starting to become more like Hell’s Kitchen in some respects. Ramsay admitted in an interview what many suspected was the case, that many selected to be on HK are just duds put there for entertainment and shock value. It explains why he would keep some around and drop others. Now that is not the case here for MasterChef but in the case of Krissi, I do have to wonder if the reason she has hung around this long is they want the drama she creates.

Krissi’s save surprised me since they all dislike her (and she is the same back at them). Then again they looked down and saw two top competitors and one wildcard in Bri. So Krissi gets the save so one of those three gets to go home. Obviously knocking out Jessi or Jordan would have been better but knocking out Bri gets rid of someone who, to the surprise of many, has some genuine creativity. I would have put Krissi down there since she is a strong chef and not weak. Cooking out her element might very well send her home.

Now we are down to Eddie, James, Jordan, Jessi, Krissi, Luca, and Natasha.  Seven nice chefs left, to paraphrase Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka. According to the promos, family members drop by. And yet another aspiring MasterChef will bid farewell. The top is Eddie and Natasha, followed by Jessi, James and Krissi. Luca ought to go next but, as so often happens, something can happen and trip up someone who ought to be in the top four being sent home. Luca might stick around longer than Krissi though, so you never know!


Saturday Scramble

Palmer Colossal Crocodile*Clive Palmer’s robotic dinosaur park has been approved but not without vocal opposition by local residents reports Fox News. Palmer had sought approval for erecting up to 160 animatronic dinosaurs at his Coolum Resort. The exhibit will include “five Tyrannosaurus rex robots, the largest towering at 8.5 metres (28 feet) in height.” The dinosaur robots will be able to blink their eyes and move their tales.

Source: Green Light For Titanic Tycoon’s Aussie Dinosaur Park(25 Jul 2013,Fox News)

*Belfast’s Titanic Quarter has exceeded all expectations reports The Telegraph. Titanic Quarter is being designed as a place for education, residential, and entertainment growth. 185 acres are being converted into the largest urban waterfront with Belfast Titanic being a major draw with over 800,000 visitors in the first year.

The Quarter is also home to the Northern Ireland Science Park – 24 acres of office and R&D space, currently housing more than 100 indigenous and international organisations – and Titanic Studios, one of Europe’s largest TV and movie production sets. Premier Inn, the first of five planned hotels, is already achieving high levels of occupancy and around 1,000 people are living in the first residential phase of the development.

Source: Belfast’s Titanic Quarter Exceeds Expectations(26 Jul 2013,The Telegraph)

*Many are surprised to learn there was a black family traveling aboard Titanic, and were second class passengers. Joseph Laroche was traveling aboard Titanic with his family (his wife and two children;his wife was pregnant with a third child). Born in Haiti in 1886, he migrated to France in 1901 (at age 15) to study engineering. After obtaining his degree, he found racial discrimination got in his way of a high paying job. His second daughter Louise was born prematurely and had medical problems. With his wife pregnant, Laroche decided to return to Haiti with his pregnant wife. Since he wife was white, the couple got stares and rude comments aboard Titanic. When disaster struck, he made sure his wife and children were placed on a lifeboat (possibly lifeboat 14). Joseph Larouche perished when Titanic sank.

Source: Titanic Black Passengers: Joseph Laroche, Unknown Facts(26 Jul 2013,

Further information:
Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche (Encyclopedia Titanica)

Wednesday Titanic Newswrap

1. Titanic II Update According to, United Arab Emirates (UAE) firms are in talks with Clive Palmer to license use of Titanic II in UAE.. And they are also hoping to convince Palmer to bring Titanic II to Dubai after construction is complete. So far the talks are in the early stages and no firm decisions have been made yet.

Source: UAE Firms In Talks To Bring Titanic II Replica Ship To Dubai (24 July 2013,

 Grand Staircase RMS Olympic2. Are the days of Edwardian ship classes returning? Well not quite but many cruise ships are creating new spaces for people with lots of disposable income. They will have their own areas to dine, entertainment, and exercise areas. In short, they will avoid the common areas and be in areas off limits to other passengers. Is this trend permanent? Well there have always been exclusive country club like cruise ships or yachts around for a while. Now some of the big guys want some of that action because those people will spend lots of money for the deluxe or supreme class that will be offered to them. In short, they are responding to market demand. Still it is understandable why people are just a bit nervous. And no doubt some cruise lines would like to do what airlines have done by making people flying coach wishing they had wings to fly in often cramped and uncomfortable seats.

Source: Are Classes Of Travel On Board Coming Back Into Cruising?(24 Jul 2013,

Hartley Violin Update: Coming To Titanic Branson In August

Wallace Hartley's ViolinThe Hartley Violin, the one Wallace Hartley possibly played on that fateful voyage, is on its American tour. Right now it is at Titanic Pigeon Forge through 27 Jul. Then goes over to Titanic Branson where it will be on display in August 1-15. Reservations are required and there is a daily vip tour (limited to 25 people). Usually they prohibit any cameras or videos of items exhibited but they are allowing people attending to take photos of the violin.

Source: Long Lost Titanic Violin In Branson(press release)(23 Jul 2013,PR Web)

SamTrans Route 140 Update-Parkside Intermediate School Trips Remain

busIn a previous post I reported on the upcoming changes to SamTrans Route 140. The proposed changes are dropping two school bus runs and moving them over to a new route, the 49. I assumed when I first read this that this meant trips to Parkside Intermediate in San Bruno would be shunted over to this new route.

However SamTrans has now posted the schedule changes coming at their website. From reviewing the new SamTrans 140 schedule, it appears they are moving the bus trips to Terra Nova in Pacifica to new route 49. The current school trips to Parkside Intermediate are not being dropped. They will continue making the morning and afternoon runs as they currently do when school is in session.

Monday Titanic Newswrap

1. Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition will end its run at Atlantic Station (Atlanta, GA) on 18 August. For tickets, hours of operation, and other information go to

Source: Titanic Exhibition To Close Aug. 18 At Atlantic Station(20 Jul 2013,Atlanta Intown)

2. TripAdvisor reviews of Titanic Museum in Branson, MO are mostly positive. 1,137 reviews this far and 732 have an excellent review, 294 say it was very good, and the rest falls between average to terrible(20 rated it as poor,11 as terrible). Some complaints concerned price, being overcrowded, not being geared to children. I took a look at the admission prices listed at the website and they do seem pricey. Then again this is a speciality exhibition so generally prices are often high. I did notice there is a discount running through July for online ticket ordering. Is it worth going? Only you can decide that.

Source: Review Titanic Museum (Branson, MO)

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

3. Finding links to Titanic are something many want to find. Consider a house in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Built in 1888 by noted architect Frank Freeman, it was owned by industrialist Herman Behr and his family. One of the sons, Karl, was aboard Titanic and survived. The story here is that Karl bought a Titanic ticket to be close to Helen Newsom, a gal he had a romantic interest in. Her family though did not like him much and tried to dissuade the courtship. According to his words later, Behr proposed to Newsom while they were in a lifeboat (they were married a year later). So that is the connection to Titanic as the house was sold years later and later became the Palm Hotel, a place of ill repute. The area itself became known for its rowdy taverns and bars that were filled often with sailors and others who worked in the area. Then it was purchased by the Franciscan order in 1961 for religious housing but later converted into rental housing.

Source: The Brooklyn Apartments That Have A Titanic History(21 Jul 2013, Gothamist)

For information on Karl Behr, visit Encylopedia Titanica for biographical sketch.

Friday Titanic Newswrap

1. Titanic II Update
Blue Star Line, the company behind Titanic II construction, announced Lloyd’s Register will review Titanic II design and safety features.  Lloyd’s Register, founded 1760, is a maritime organization that provides risk assessment and certification for ships, related accessories, and installations. There is a Wikipedia entry and Lloyd’s Register has a website here.

Source: Lloyds Register To Review Titanic Designs(18 Jul 2013, eTravel Blackboard)

snow scene2. Orlando Titanic Exhibit Makes Snow
Yes, for real according to a recent news report and from their own website. On 25 Jul 2013, they will host “Titanic Melt” in the parking lot of  Titanic: The Experience from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.. Here is what they say it is all about:

Titanic The Experience is hosting a way for people to cool off this summer with the “Titanic Melt”. Titanic The Experience is one of the coolest places in town with its own iceberg in the exhibit. To showcase its frostiness, Titanic The Experience will host a snow day complete with ice carving and real snow.

Well as gimmicks go not too bad. At least they are not using a Titanic slide.

Further info at Titanic:The Experience

3. Cardboard Regatta Features Titanic Award
The annual Crazy Cardboard Regatta will be held this Saturday at the  Voice of America MetroPark in West Chester, Ohio. Last minute registrations will be taken between 8 a.m.-11:00 a.m. For information about the event and the location, go to And yes the regatta has a Titanic award for the best sinking. Good luck to all!

Source: Crazy Cardboard Regatta(18 Jul 2013,

4. Revisiting Lunar Theory On Titanic Sinking
Readers will recall that back in 2013 astronomers at Texas State University that a rare lunar event contributed to Titanic’s demise. The moon and sun lined up in such a way as create a spring tide. Now assuming this to be true and enhanced tides were created, moving icebergs still would pose a problem. According to an article in Hydro International:

As Greenland icebergs travel southward, many become stuck in the shallow waters off the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. Normally, icebergs remain in place and cannot resume moving southward until they’ve melted enough to refloat or a high enough tide frees them. A single iceberg can become stuck multiple times on its journey southward, a process that can take several years. But the unusually high tide in January 1912 would have been enough to dislodge many of those icebergs and move them back into the southbound ocean currents, where they would have just enough time to reach the shipping lanes for that fateful encounter with the Titanic.

So if there was an unusual spring tide in 1912, it would have been enough to move a lot icebergs into the ocean currents that many steamships used back then. Does not change what happened later but provides an answer as to why so many icebergs were around at the time.

Source: Fate Titanic Linked to Lunar Event(15 Jul 2013, Hydro International )

5. Titanic video
Here is an interesting clip from National Geographic’s Titanic at 100. The CGI shows with newer information how Titanic likely sank.

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MasterChef: Sausage For All and Fungi Strategy

No two-parter this week, just one episode where our valiant cheftestants try to prove themselves worthy of that trophy and a lot of cash.

Hidden under those mystery boxes is a meat grinder, which means either making ground meat for hamburgers or sausages. Just as the long mystery box at the front is unloaded, I flashed back to a line in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by the maitre’d to Ferris: “You’re the sausage king of Chicago?” Underneath it is all kinds of meat and even some vegetarian items thrown in as well. It is sausage heaven and they must create an entrée out of it. Sounds easy but we are talking gourmet here. Making breakfast sausage is not going to cut it. Well in the case of Natasha it does since she makes an upscale sausage with breakfast. Krissi, clearly in her comfort zone, nails it as well. But it is Eddie that outshines them all and gets the win. And back to the pantry he goes.

We saw something like this last season. They offer up three foods but you choose who gets the fresh or canned version. And Eddie chooses mushrooms knowing it would throw some people off. Canned varieties are not very good and require finesse to use them right. Fresh seems easy but Eddie knows that some out there will overcomplicate and end up on the bottom. I can tell Eddie would have been a great NFL player. He observes his opponents to determine their strengths and weaknesses. And then plans accordingly. So he gives Bri, Bethy, James and Jordan fresh mushrooms believing some of them will over think resulting in a bad dish. Everyone else gets the canned mushrooms. Yuck.

The interesting twist is that the canned mushroom group did better as a whole against the fresh fungi group. Luca, Jessi, Krissi and Natasha all passed muster with best being Jessi, Krissi and Natasha. Not one of them faced elimination and Natasha was one of two who won. On the fresh fungi side, only Bri made a dish that excelled and also was winner. That left Bethy, James, and Jordan on the bottom facing elimination. Eddie’s strategy worked. Each one of them failed to make mushrooms the star. Bethy used too much sesame oil so it dominated her dish. James had too much sauce and Jordan’s attempt at pasta was a bridge too far.

In the end, Bethy was sent home. Not a surprise since she had started to fade before this. And she forgot to get sugar forcing her to beg it from other cheftestants. And now we have eight left. One of those eight will be the next MasterChef. Who will it be? Next week, they go camping. You can view a clip of next week’s episode on YouTube.

We are at the point now where rankings are more relevant. Who is up, down, or just heading out the door?

Top Tier
Jessi has shown remarkable skill in the competition. And surprised many in the process. She is a serious contender to be one of the top four.

When he first auditioned, I was not sure about him. But over time he has shown a lot of creativity in his dishes and wowed the judges. He will have to really screw up to not make it into the top four.

She started out great, then seemed to muddle, and now has come back with a lot of really well thought out dishes. She aced the Walmart basket with limited time last week. Her dismissive comments about her fellow contestants at times are grating (or refusing to clap when Bri is announced as being in the top ten). She does not accept criticism from those beneath her station. Despite those negatives, her strengths as cook put her in the top tier.

A creative chef but took a serious hit this week and tumbles from the top tier. He has obvious strengths but is prone to overdo things.

James has finesse but like Jordan was humbled by the fungi. So he drops out of the top tier as well. Too bad because he is quite talented.

Krissi cooks well when the food is in her comfort zone. Outside of that, she has difficulty. However as this show goes on and the demand for high refined cooking really kicks in, she will likely be outside her comfort zone. Her attitude stinks, she is nasty to most everyone there, and is a bully. I do not see her in the top four but could happen if something dramatic happens to those ahead of her.

Bri being the only vegetarian in the group is at a disadvantage. Yet she has shown capability of handling meat but is not always consistent owing to lack of experience. She is a wildcard because of the ability to confound expectations and win challenges.

Luca is a nice guy but his food just gets by. He has shown great finesse at times. And I loved it when he took Jordan’s stand mixer in the cupcake challenge. That being said, his time is up. He does not have the chops to go head to head with some of the top tier people. So Luca, I like you but time for you to go.


Titanic Newswrap

(Photo Courtesy George Behe)
(Photo Courtesy George Behe)

1. Premier Exhibitions, which bills itself as “a leading presenter of museum-quality touring exhibitions around the world” has announced its first quarter earnings for 2014. Bad news for shareholders. Total revenue was down by 22% compared to last year at this time. Gross profits decreased as well. Average attendance at exhibitions were down and ticket prices decreased by 9.6%. Hurricane Sandy shut down the South Street Seaport in New York City which impacted income. Some new exhibitions being planned: exhibition featuring characters from movie Ice Age and an artifact based one called City of Pompeii, Italy. As for the Titanic artifact sale, this is what was announced:

The previously announced group of individuals (the “Consortium”) that entered into a non-binding letter of intent with the Company on October 15, 2012 to affect a purchase of the stock of RMS Titanic, Inc. remains active. While the Consortium, which is based in the Hampton Roads region of southeast Virginia, has made progress in aligning the necessary resources, the effort is not complete. Given the amount of time that has passed since the LOI was signed, the Company has decided to pursue other strategic alternatives to maximize the value of the Titanic assets in parallel with continued discussions with the Consortium.

In other words, thanks for the interest but we are moving on. Give us a call if you get the money.

Source: Press Release-Premier Exhibitions Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2014 Results(11 Jul 2013,Global Newswire via Yahoo)

2. Marshall Weiss, editor of The Dayton Jewish Observer, was recently awarded The Jacob Rader Marcus Award for Journalistic Excellence in American Jewish History for an article series called “Kosher Titanic – and other Jewish Connections to the Ill-fated Liner.”

The series included stories about a Jewish survivor who returned to Manchester, England, to open a kosher butcher shop; the burial of Jewish survivors at Halifax, and a Jewish baby boy separated from his mother on the night of the sinking, and then reunited with her on the Carpathia. The series was picked up by most major Jewish newspapers across the U.S., and on the Times of Israel website in 2012.

Source: Dayton Jewish Observer Publisher Honored For His Work(17 Jul 2013, Dayton Daily News)

3.  Titanic shows up at county fairs and summer events in different ways. Cardboard regattas (or other similar floatable ideas) take place with awards for the most creative and dramatic sinking. Sometimes it shows up as a 12-foot replica at the Sullivan County Fair in Indiana. Rob Overton is an EMT by trade by got fascinated by Titanic when it was found in 1985. He first built a 40 inch model but he did not like it. So using original drawings he made a 12-foot replica which now can be seen at the county fair. While he has other items in his Titanic exhibit, the replica is the centerpiece.

Source: Titanic Exhibit at Sullivan County Fair Features 12-Foot Replica(16 Jul 2013, My Wabash Valley)

4. Titanic musicals are popular too from news reports I have been reading. Titanic: The Musical performing at the Harrisburg Christian Performing Arts Center in Middletown, PA has got some very good reviews.

Source:  ‘Titanic the Musical’ staged at Harrisburg Christian Performing Arts Center(16 Jul 2013, Patriot-News)

5. Back in the 1980’s The Bangles were a hot group with four talented female singers. Some of their more popular songs were Manic Monday, Walk Like An Egyptian, Going Down To Liverpool, Hero Takes A Fall, and Eternal Flame. They broke up in the early 1990’s but reunited again around the start of the new century. A recent album Sweetheart of the Sun brings them back to their roots. Their talent has not dimmed over the years and are strong as ever. Susanna Hoffs (incorrectly called the lead singer even though everyone sang in their albums) has some excellent solo work as well. Her album Someday is well worth listening too. Some people wondered if she was any good outside of The Bangles and this album ought to settle any doubts. She is undeniably talented and the range of songs prove it. One song, Picture Me, is a video on Vevo (and can be seen on YouTube).