MasterChef: Eva Longoria Drops By, The Worst Dish Ever Presented, and Chicken Three Ways

Walmart is really getting their moneys worth with the constant reminders that Walmart provides food to the show. You know it is getting ridiculous when it looks so obvious they are reading from a script.

Eva Longoria is in the house
When the aspiring winners came in, they remark about the large mystery box on the dais. You would think they might guess it is a surprise celebrity guest. Hopefully neither Paula Deen or Eva Longoria are claustrophobic. It must be weird standing inside that large box listening to people entering and commenting on what they are seeing.

I had no idea Longoria has a restaurant in Las Vegas. Joe Bastianich says she is the real deal when it comes to food. And from the ingredients she selected, it shows. An interesting mix of Mexican ingredients for the cheftestants. The three chosen to be judged are Bri, Eddie, and Savannah. Natasha does not like Bri much and upset her dish gets adored. Even more upset when Bri wins. Bri heads to the pantry and has to decide between two (Walmart!) baskets. One has fewer ingredients but has a whole hour to cook while the one with the most ingredients (including a steak) is only thirty minutes. She selects Natasha for the short time basket and everyone else for the 1 hour. Natasha does not like Bri and thinks a vegetarian does not belong in the top ten. Too bad, says Gordon, since he announces Bri is in the top ten. Natasha cools her heels while everyone else cooks away.

Epic Fail
Natasha does just fine with her challenge and wins rave reviews. Luca thinks his dish is bad, but obviously his prayers paid off as Joe likes it. The three on the bottom are Lynn, James and Krissi. Now over four years the judges have seen and tasted some awful dishes. The one presented by Lynn goes into that rare Epic Fail category. The judges were astounded he presented them with such an awful dish. It is visually unappealing, like cow puddings with fruit thrown on top. Really there are few adjectives that describe how awful it looks. While James and Krissi have poor dishes, Lynn is truly in a league all by himself. Needless to say, he is the one sent home. Which is a shame considering how good he is. Everyone is shocked by the elimination and it makes clear no one is safe. Except perhaps Walmart.

Surfs Up!
Gordon and Joe arrive by jet skis. I wonder how many times they had to do it to get it right? Graham is snorkeling and comes ashore. Trust me that is a sight not worth seeing. Our cheftestants are at Surf City USA aka Huntington Beach. Cue the Beach Boys! Sadly their music is not played and Krissi makes a dismissive remark about surfers (she will not be welcomed back to Surf City!). Their task is to feed them fish tacos. Jessi having won the elimination competition gets to pick her team and those left over form the other team. Oh and she gets to choose that team leader. She chooses Savannah thinking she is weak but she has strong leadership skills. Team Jessi is slower to get going and James’ sauce is initially rocket fuel requiring him to retool it. Team Savannah sidelines Krissi after tasting her fried cod going with a grilled fish instead. She is relegated to preparing the tacos and she instructed to make them nearly burnt (something later she denies hearing). Krissi is not happy with this.

Some miscues in serving lead to some wait times but in the end, all the surfers are fed. Now instead of pushing a button, they have the surfers jump on the surf board representing the team they liked best. It looks bad for Team Jessi at first but then the scores tighten up and they beat Team Savannah decisively. Back at MasterChef kitchen Graham has a Chicago Cubs shirt on. Now remember this was filmed many weeks ago but designed to be shown the week before the All Star Game, which by the way is being shown on Fox this coming Tuesday. The winners all get team shirts from their city and tickets to attend the game in New York City! Now that is a nice deal. Of course the bad news is that Team Savannah now faces a dreaded pressure test. One person is to be saved and the others face a difficult task.

Krissi and The Three Chickens
Team Savannah goes to the wine room to  decide who gets saved. Krissi lets loose and it quickly goes downhill. It gets so loud everyone in the balcony and the judges can hear Krissi’s profanities. Joe Bastianich, in his column over at People writes:

Speaking of never making it to L.A., had we heard the mouth on Krissi earlier, she might never have left Philly. I don’t mind a little attitude and spunk, but her behavior in the wine room was embarrassing – not to mention unproductive – and that bothers me. Keep quiet and cook, Krissi.

What was surprising was Bri. She is no pushover and gets in Krissi’s face, who threatens to beat her up (and says in the confessional she used to beat up girls like Bri in high school). Ultimately Jordan gets the pass and Savannah, Krissi, Luca, and Bri face the dreaded pressure test. And it is a doozy. Remember last year when they made Frank and Josh cook three different souffles? Well this is almost the same but even worse. Gordon wants a perfect pan seared chicken breast, Graham wants a perfect southern fried chicken, and Joe wants an Italian stuffed chicken breast (with cheese and meat). Oh and have them all done in 40 minutes please.

Only Krissi gets all three right (her pan roasted was just slightly underdone though) She gets the pass. Luca does too though his fried chicken and Italian chicken were not well cooked. This leaves Bri and Savannah. Savannah really botched all three preparations while Bri saved herself on the Italian chicken breast. Savannah turns in her apron and leaves but is reminded she did pretty well to get that far. And now there are just nine left. Next week: sausages!

Final Thoughts:
An interesting two parter. Eva Longoria adds a touch of glamor but, appearances aside, it was not an easy challenge to come up with a dish that would pass muster. The fact that Bri won is a surprise (especially to Natasha who dislikes her) and shows she has some serious cooking chops. However she has a serious limitation in being a vegetarian. This is not Vegetarian MasterChef, so she is going to be faced with more tough cooking challenges out of her realm. And Natasha does have a point, though crudely made. It will be very hard for her to win considering that she will have to masterly cook some upscale dishes that will include meat and poultry.

Seeing Lynn go was hard. This is a guy with a lot of talent but he put up a plate that was completely wrong. Perhaps it was pressure or something else that led to his making serious culinary mistakes. Krissi was not far behind with her awful cupcakes but Lynn was in a league all to himself with that dish.

The surfer competition was pretty neat. It got them out of their comfort zone again forcing them to cook under pressure for a large group of people. Savannah was the better organizer, I think, but once Jessi got her team into gear it went very well. Something must have happened to the quality of Team Savannah as time went on. They got a lot of positive reviews but Team Jessi got the win in the end. As for Krissi, I have already said she is an odious contemptible person (and a bully). Nothing shown here changes that appraisal. She is right about one thing, she will likely bring herself down. We have already seen when angry how she tends to fail (the infamous catfish and mashed potatoes). She goofed up adding an ingredient to her cupcakes that turned them into doorstops. It would be delicious if Natasha, who I think is better than Krissi, is the one to out-cook her. The pressure ramps up now with fewer people left in the competition. Surfs up!

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Titanic:The Experience Coming To Buena Park In August

 Grand Staircase RMS OlympicTitanic:The Experience will be opening in Buena Park, CA on 1 Aug 2013. The exhibition will be at the former Movieland Wax Museum. Bodies: The Exhibition will also be opening at the same time at this location.

Further Information:
Buena Park, CA website
Premier Exhibitions

Source: Buena Park Gains Two New Attractions: Titanic And Bodies(10 Jul 2013,Orange County Breeze)



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SamTrans Update

busUPDATE(23 Jul 2013)
1. Service to Parkside Intermediate is not dropped and will continue on the 140. Service to Terra Nova in Pacifica is being moved to new route 49.

2. Route 141 will be altered on 26 Jan 2014. According to SamTrans summary of 26 Jan 2014 changes: “Realign route via San Bruno Avenue to improve direct service to San Bruno BART; only serve San Mateo Avenue on select trips.” Both the 140/141 will serve the new Caltrain station at San Bruno Ave.


SamTrans has announced important changes beginning 11 Aug 2013. Here is a quick summary:

1. Routes 390/391 weekday service service eliminated and replaced by route ECR. Weekday ECR will run every 15 minutes between Palo Alto and Daly City BART stations. Service to San Bruno and South San Francisco BART stations discontinued.

2. Another change to Route 140 (Pacifica to San Bruno BART). The twice daily school bus trips are being discontinued and new Route 49 will do this service.

Changes scheduled 26 Jan 2014
1. Route 140 will be extended to SF Airport Airtran.
2. Express route KX will operate between Redwood City and San Bruno BART including an SFO airport. Peak hour service to San Francisco Transbay Terminal.

My take:
As noted in a previous post, the new ECR drops San Bruno BART dropping direct service to Tanforan and BART. People taking SamTrans have two choices taking the bus to Tanforan. Option 1: Take ECR to bus stop at Sneath & El Camino Ave(north and south) and walk to Tanforan. Option 2: Get off at San Bruno Ave & El Camino(north and south) and catch an eastbound 140 to San Bruno BART. BART is the easiest option. Simply take BART to San Bruno and you are right behind Tanforan. Downside: costs more than SamTrans.

There is also in 2014 another option of taking the KX. This mixed route is being shortened from its present start in Stanford to Redwood City. This shortened route will run between Redwood City and San Bruno BART during offpeak hours and into San Francisco during peak hours weekdays. A stop at San Francisco International is part of this route. Weekend service will operate hourly. Note: This route does not duplicate ECR and only stops at selected stops.

The 140 change is a surprise and threads a tough needle. SamTrans states it is forbidden by federal law from providing dedicated bus service to schools. That is why bus routes such as 140 divert over at certain times during the school year to serve schools like Parkside Intermediate. Now they are discontinuing such service and shifting the service over to a new route (49) in August. Presumably this limited run meets federal regulations by making all regular and school stops when it runs. One possible reason for this change is that commuters who boarded the school trip buses found it added extra time getting to BART or catching an ECR.

Source: SamTrans Transit Updates

Jewels of Titanic Exhibit Tour Ends 21 Jul

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

The three city tour of Jewels of Titanic will end its journey at the Titanic Exhibition at Luxor Hotel in Los Vegas on 21 Jul. According to the press release, after this exhibit ends the jewels will be redistributed to other Titanic exhibitions. Admission to the Luxor Titanic exhibition includes Jewels of Titanic. Admission prices, hours of operation, and other information can be found here.

Source:Premier Exhibitions, Inc. Traveling Display, Jewels of Titanic, Concludes Three-City Tour in Las Vegas on July 21 (8 Jul 2013, Globe Newswire)


Titanic Trivia: Hellman’s Mayo & Titanic

Hellman’s/Best Foods mayonnaise often used in sandwiches.
Photo:Wikimedia commons

Hellman’s mayonnaise is a staple in the American kitchen. Though known to many west of the Rockies as Best Foods (a West Coast rival that merged with Hellman’s in 1932 but both are exactly the same recipe), it is a simple recipe of eggs, oil and vinegar. Home made mayo is even better but why make it when Hellman’s or Best Foods makes it so convenient? Richard Hellman used his wife’s recipe at his New York deli. It became so popular he began selling it to the public. And in 1912 set up a factory to produce the mayonnaise. In 1917 he closed the delicatessen to produce the mayonnaise full time.

Now how does Titanic fit in? Well just a tiny bit. It seems Richard Hellman was going to sail on Titanic and decided at the last minute to give it a pass. Thus continuing his work to bring ready made mayo to the masses.

So how has Hellman’s/Best Foods fared over the years? They are still tops in national mayo sales and have different, less fat, versions available as well. However I am not liking the squeeze bottles much and prefer the old fashioned jar to get the mayo out.

1. Mayonnaise Turns 100(30 June 2013,

2. Hellmann’s and Best Foods (Wikipedia)

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