Update On Albion House/Titanic Hotel Plans

Albion House,Liverpool
Photo: public domain

According to Liverpool Echo, the city planning committee has given its okay for the former home of the White Star Line to be developed into a apart-hotel with 35 apartments, wedding facilities, fine-dining restaurant and rooftop bar. Built between 1895-1896, the building housed White Star Line offices until the line was merged with Cunard. It has been used as private offices but remained mostly empty.The bar, the Great Hall for weddings, three accommodation floors, and the rooftop bar hopefully will be open by April 2014.

Source: Liverpool Titanic Hotel Gets Go-Ahead From Planners (30 Oct 2013, Liverpool Echo)

Titanic News For 29 Oct 2013

1. Titanic Pigeon Forge will be hosting a fireworks display on Thanksgiving Day (28 Nov 2013) at 7:30 p.m. to kick off the holiday season.“It will be the largest fireworks event of the year on the Smoky Mountain Parkway, and we look forward to celebrating a joyful evening with our community friends and neighbors.” announces John Joslyn, expedition leader of the first private exploration dive to Titanic and co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction.” For information and tickets go to titanicpigeonforge.com or call 800 381-7670.
1. Thanksgiving Fireworks Light Up The Sky At Titanic Museum Attraction In Pigeon Forge
(29 Oct 2013, Chattanoogan.com)
2. Titanic Pigeon Forge (website)

2. Former Titanic slipways were recently used for the 2013 Halloween Metro Monster Mash reports Belfast Telegraph. Aside from the usual assortment of wizards and witches, some dressed up in elaborate costumes like Edward Scissorhands. Local music, street theatre and fire shows entertained during the family-friendly event. There were also prizes awarded fro the best costumes.
Source: Fiery Skies Greet Monsters At Halloween Monster Mash In Titanic Quarter Belfast(28 Oct 2013,Belfast Telegraph)

3. Titanic:The Experience will be hosting a fashion competition tied in with tv show “Project Runway” on 6 November from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The theme is Edwardian fashions. Further information is at titanictheexperience.com/orlando or call 407-248-1166.
Source: Titanic The Experience To Host Fashion Competition(29 Oct 2013,Orlando Sentinel)

MasterChef Junior-Restaurant Kids

Kids taking over the kitchen of a restaurant to serve lunch. A recipe for disaster or more proof the producers are equating these kids to their full grown counterparts?

I was surprised that they decided to put the restaurant challenge in the junior edition. After all, this is going way out of their comfort zone. And considering most industrial kitchens are not kid friendly, one that is fraught with peril. I cannot imagine many restaurant owners opening up their kitchens due to labor, safety and liability issues to allow kids to cook for a reality show. Those concerns aside, this was a great episode if nothing else to see how these kids worked under the pressure of a restaurant.

Last weeks winners, Dara and Gavin were team leaders. Team Dara (Red Team) includes Alexander and Jack. Team Gavin(Blue Team) includes Troy and Sarah. Troy wanted to work on Dara’s team and not happy to be on Gavin’s. Troy is not happy about having Sarah on the team (she was picked last). Sarah comments that she expected to be picked last due to her age. Then she points she has been cooking for six years. That would mean she started cooking when she was two. Since this is Halloween Week, I wonder if she is a gifted child from another planet.

Meanwhile in the kitchen they learn what they are serving for lunch, which are two appetizers and two entrees. They are at Drago Centro, one of the top Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. Executive Chef Ian Gresik demonstrates the dishes they would be cooking. Too be honest, I was very nervous watching this part. These are dishes well beyond anything they have cooked before (one kid says of the appetizers that it is not a plate of salami and cheese!). It is a lot to learn in a very short time. Aside from the diners, Chef Ian will be tasting their dishes as well. With Gordon expediting, nothing will pass by that is not done right.

As is often happens though, chaos enters the kitchen as the kids all have to work together as a team. And not everyone is used to that. Fortunately Drill Sergeant Gordon Ramsay has been replaced with Ramsay model 1.0. This Ramsay is more mellow than the sergeant model, but certainly conveys anger when displeased. No foul words had to be bleeped, no utterances of “you donkey” or calling anyone Shrek (like he did to David when he put plastic bottles on top of a hot oven). Gavin though likes taunting Team Dara when his raviolis were done first. Dara seems to be less proactive as a leader at first. Troy decides to take control of Team Gavin believing he is not delegating. This causes him to push Sarah off her station and even cooking. Sarah is not happy with this treatment and even cries. Team Dara has its own problems as both Alexander and Dara are butting heads.

Despite all this and some jittery performances in the kitchen, all the dishes go out and none came back. That is a first (as noted by Gordon as well). Chef Ian was impressed with what he tasted from both teams. Each had strengths and weaknesses. Some were better on one dish than the other but was very close. Back in the kitchen, the kids are congratulated and given apple juice (Gordon calls it apple cider but over here there is virtually no difference between the two unless it has more bits of the fruit in it). The diners were astonished and clapped in approval when they saw the chefs were in fact kids. They had to have known it was a MasterChef taping but not it the junior version.

Back at MasterChef Central (aka the kitchen), judgment is rendered. We learn Team Dara won meaning Alexander, Dara, and Jack are in the top four. That leaves two in Team Gavin to be sent home. Troy is saved sending both Gavin and Sarah home. Sarah cries but Gordon tries to comfort her. She really is quite an extraordinary kid considering what she produced. And I saw some promo recently with her and Gordon cooking something on a morning show. Gordon has an eye for talent and supporting those starting out. As does Graham and Joe. Down the line some of these kids will find doors open at their places to learn how to cook professionally.

By The Numbers
According to Tvbythenumbers Undercover Boss won the hour with a 1.6 rating, down from 1.8 last week. MasterChef Junior was second with 1.4, up slightly from last week. Last Man Standing was a rerun so it drops down to fourth place and Dateline was third at 1.3.

Interesting Search Terms
People are inputing search terms in Google and other search engines (which leads them to this blog and others) and here are some of them:

are MasterChef junior actors
can the kids on masterchef junior really cook
do the kids on masterchef junior really cook
is junior masterchef real

That last one is a zinger. Is the show real? Well reality television (especially the more notorious ones) often skews what we see. Kitchen Nightmares (U.S.) heightens conflict for the show (though sometimes it does not need to like Amy’s Baking Company). While I enjoy the show, one has to remember this is entertainment. And these kids are exceptional for their age.

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China Goes All In On Titanic-Will Build An Exact Replica

Photo courtesy George Behe

How do you one up Austrailian millionaire Clive Palmer who is building Titanic II? Youbuild an exact replica. At least that is what World Bulletin is reporting. Here is the pertinent information from the news report:

The project, which is sponsored by the Seven-Star Energy Group (SSEG), will be part of the “Romantic Mediterranean Seven-star International Tourism and Resorts Zones” plan, set to be introduced at the 14th Western China International Fair on October 23. Su Shaojun, chairman of SSEG, revealed that just the blueprint alone cost the company millions of dollars. After the ship sank in 1912, much of the original blueprints were lost, but after years of efforts, the majority of the blueprint has been restored. However Su also said, “We recreate the ship not for travel; instead, it will be a chance for people from all around the world to experience life on the Titanic.”

So it appears this will not be a cruise ship but an exact replica for people to visit. Perhaps it will do ceremonial trips but possibly docked as a floating historical museum. It might be worth seeing if it ever gets built. The cost will be astronomical but they probably hope Titanic tourists will flock to see it. Since they have invited James Cameron and his film crew, perhaps they will show his movie in the First Class lounge.

Source: China To Build Replica Of Titanic (25 Oct 2013, World Bulletin)

Titanic Themed Haunted House

Scary Pumpkin
Photo: Carole Pasquier

The Pageant of Monsters, an occasional event of Festival Of Arts in Laguna Beach, California, will be including in their spooky family-friendly haunted house a tour of a sunken luxury liner inspired by Titanic. Actors will be made up as ghosts as you pass through rooms converted to look those on the sunken liner. Inspiration, reports the Coastline Pilot, came from a Titanic memorial a few years ago. So it was decided to include Titanic in this years haunted house. In addition to the haunted house, the event includes live music, fortune telling, wandering zombies and even surgeons conducting an alien autopsy.

The Pageant of Monsters will be at the Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach from October 24-31 from 6 t0 9:30 p.m.. Cost is $15 for adult, $10 for children 12 and younger (kids under 5 not recommended). Further information is at Festival of Arts or by calling 1-800-487-3378.

Source: A Titanic Twist On Halloween (23 Oct 2013, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot)

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Titanic II Update:Clive Palmer Wants To Make A Titanic Movie

Movie Camera
Photo: Public Domain

Now that Clive Palmer is building a Titanic replica, scheduled to sail in 2016, why not turn to movie making as well? According to Agence France-Presse(AFP), he has registered Palmer Pictures to be his movie production company. It turns out his father once had the same company in the 1920’s and produced two silent films in Australia. There is already a documentary to be filmed aboard its maiden voyage, but Palmer wants to one up James Cameron.

“It will be a love story,” he said. “We have a lot of actors from Hollywood, China and Europe who want to star in roles.” Palmer said his version of the Titanic would be “a lot better” than James Cameron’s 1997 global hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. “I could be in a deckchair having a drink,” he added of his dream to make a cameo appearance. Global interest in Titanic II has prompted Palmer’s latest film move, he said. “The script is still being worked on and of course we would be seeking major Hollywood stars and production people to be involved in the movie project,” he said.

Well this ought to be interesting. I bet it will be a Asian themed telling of the story considering how close his ties are with China. I am sure the old guard in Beijing would love to tell the tale of how greed, capitalism, and western values sank Titanic. Oh wait, the Nazi’s did that first! If the Chinese have a hand in it, expect it to be tightly controlled and scripts approved by them. Even if not, they will refuse it to be shown in China unless certain edits are made first to conform with their rules. They are already doing it already with many films, just like the Nazis did back in the 1930’s with Hollywood.

Source: Titanic 2? Australian Billionaire Plans A Film On The Iconic Ship(21 Oct 2013, Agence France-Presse)

MasterChef Junior:Fish Eyes & Cakes

sardinesThe MasterChef Junior competition is moving quickly. Since they toss two at the end of each show, this season is quite short unlike the regular MasterChef which goes far longer. Now so far we have seen these kids take on some amazing challenges and come out well. As posed in my first writing about this show–Are These Kids Really Kids?–we are slowly learning about them. For instance when Gordon asks Sarah how she learned to cook, she mentions her grandmother owns a restaurant and she went there with her mother. Which means she got exposed to cooking skills at a much younger age than most girls.

It still begs a question though as to how these kids can perform at a skill level seemingly on par with MasterChef contestants. Last season we saw some phenomenal cooking from very talented individuals. Yet if we believe what is being shown, these kids are on par with Luca, Natasha, Jessie, Krissi, and Jordan of season four. Remember those chefs already have at least 18 years of amateur cooking behind them (most quite more). Becky of season three had remarkable presentation skills owing to her being a food photographer/stylist. She also was a very good cook and showed it often. MasterChef producers are trying to tell us that adults and kids can cook almost on par. In fact, it seems the mantra of this show to demonstrate that kids can have the same, if not better in some cases, cooking skills than adults. Does anyone else think there is something amiss here?

Consider the most current episode. They are given a mystery box no kid would ever want to have. You had kidneys, liver, sardines (whole with the eyes still in it), brussel sprouts, snails, blue cheese and other things. Not one kid showed any happiness with this box, especially Sarah who commented this was not like gummy bears. Oddly a whole canister of those things would appear on the balcony later. And Sarah, who normally stands on a box to let her stand above her station, was barely with her hear above it. Either she decided to do away with it or the director thought it might be cute to see how small she really is. Standing on tip-toes she barely makes her head above the station. I think the lift was brought back later so she could cook.

Perhaps the person who took the greatest risk and failed was Dara. She decided to make blue cheese souffles. No one on the show ever makes a souffle unless it is a pressure test. And some of the most hideous pressure tests have either been ones with souffles or lava cakes. It was daring, it was bold. Alas they did not set and thus did not work. Gordon did offer a tip or two on how to prevent that from happening again. Alexander decided to make toffee sticky pudding with candied fennel. Candied fennel? Not something you think about at all nor as an ingredient in sticky pudding, a very English dessert. Fortunately for Alexander, Graham loved it wishing there was more toffee pudding. Gordon said it was technically done right but did not like the fennel (no surprise there). It is good enough to put Alexander into the top three though.

Troy does a soup with snails and crisps eggplant skins. His soup is praised for keeping the snails moist. He also goes into the top three. The final person is Sarah, who made a Mediterranean style dish and deep fried the sardines in a batter. Joe loves it and even bites the head off a fish. We find out during the conversation between them she does not like clowns much (thinks they are creepy-I think the same thing about mimes). Joe thinks the others ought to be afraid of her. Gordon also loves her dish. Sarah wins the challenge and heads back to learn the elimination contest is about desserts. Joe puts up cupcakes, Graham a three layer cake, and Gordon fruit tarts. Sarah chooses the cake and hopes to eliminate Alexander and Troy. And when she heads upstairs to the balcony, there is a huge container of gummy bears awaiting her.

Sarah’s Arrows
Sarah may be eight years old but she clearly understands strategy. Alexander is not a great baker and so worries he might do poorly. He then decides to go all in overcomplicating his cake and making a critical mistake early on by confusing sugar with flour. Dara decides to make a cake to make up for her failed souffles. Gavin decides to go all chocolate. Sofia is nervous since she does not eat cake at all. Sofia does not eat cake and never made one before. Kaylen worries about how complex a cake is.Jack has smoke coming out of his mixer and Joe is concerned. Jack though is not worried. Sofia is crying because the batter came out all wrong. Gordon consoles her and then helps get her back on track. Actually this was a side of Gordon we do not see very often where he is acting like a mentor.

Gordon joins Sarah on the balcony and enjoys a gummy bear with her. He asks what her top two are which she replies are Gavin and Jack. And then she says something astonishing. She wants Jack to think they are friends and quotes the famous line ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ Gordon is surprised to hear her say this considering what it means. It is comes from Machiavelli who advised rulers on how to keep friends and enemies in perspective. There are many variations of it but the most famous one is from Godfather II, and a clip of being said can be found here.

When you hear a little girl say this line and seems to grasp its essential meaning, it ought to make one a tad worried. It does me.

Time is up and now cakes are being judged. Alexander had problems with his first batter and had to restart it. Also his sponge came out of the oven looking pale. Sure enough they did not cook long enough, dense, but the frosting was good. Not a strikeout but a foul ball. Dara wows the judges with a magnificent cake that looked and tasted great. She used cayenne pepper in her chocolate ganache giving it a flavor Joe liked. A home run. Kaylen brings up a cake that looks like an abstract painter did a number on it. The sponge was dense and Gordon points out that layer cakes need a wow factor. And this one did not wow. A strikeout. Gavin’s all chocolate cake got rave reviews and Joe revealing an old kid’s trick for eating cake inside out. A home run as well. Jack’s vanilla and meringue buttercream was good and light but not the wow of Dara or Gavin. Valiant effort but more like an infield double. Troy’s lemon cake looks uneven due to the heavy frosting and was too sweet. A solid double as well. Sofia’s chocolate with raspberry/strawberry buttercream had the layers mashed and uneven frosting. A strikeout as well.

The bottom four are Alexander, Kaylen, Sofia and Troy. Kaylen and Sofia end up going home. Sarah had targeted Alexander and Troy and both were in the bottom. Sort of like James and Jordan in the last season of MasterChef who tended to overcomplicate their dishes. Once again confirming my belief they are trying to make these chefs on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior indistinguishable except for age and size. In doing so, MasterChef Junior may loose its charm. They are not kids, just masterful cooks trapped in small bodies being held back by age. Something is being lost here but that is a discussion perhaps for another day.

By the numbers:Friday’s ratings are in and according to TVByTheNumbers Undercover Boss won the 8:00 hour with a rating of 1.8, MasterChef scored 1.2, down 14 percent from 1.4 last week. Last Man Standing came in third at 1.3 (up 8 percent from last week).