Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chef Ramsay Awakens from his Kitchen Nightmares!

Ah, yes, once again chef Gordon Ramsay is providing positive feed back to a hapless owner of a failing restaurant, weeks away from shuttering his business. I confess to watching even the re-runs of this fascinating program, Kitchen Nightmares.

And so it saddened me to learn that last week, iconic chef Ramsay announced the end of Kitchen Nightmares. Spanning a decade, producing 123 hour-long mini-dramas, Gordon moves on to other adventures.

Of course dozens of memorable confrontations between Gordon and failing restaurateurs will survive into syndication, allowing us to relive our favorites.

[Ed Note: Despite its close relationship to restaurant, there is no "n" in restaurateur, either in its spelling or in its pronunciation. Oxford American Dictionary of Current English.]

The most explosive, and grotesquely entertaining episode was Gordon's visit to Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona. In the opening; pleasant repartee between Gordon, Amy and her husband, Samy Bouzaglo.

(See Season 6 program 16, Amy's Baking Company.  The original broadcast May 10, 2013.)

Faster than a Western Diamond Back rattlesnake, Amy strikes and  began spewing venom, resulting in an acrimonious exchange with Gordon!

Soon we learn that Amy's Baking Company had become embroiled in guerrilla warfare with Scottsdale Bloggers. The first shot reportedly fired by Joel Latondress, an IT (Information Technology) worker who writes a recipe Blog and likes to dine out.  He posted a review on Yelp, critical of a pizza he was served at Amy's Baking Company.

[Ed Note: Similar in concept to "Angie's List," Yelp is a multinational corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California. Founded in 2004 reviewers submit feed-back to help others decide on local businesses like dentists, hair stylists and mechanics.]

Unfortunately, rather than disregarding the criticism, Amy fired back a scathing rebuttal.  Thus began the ongoing skirmish. While most of us know that  by responding, we "fee the beast," Amy's ego and prideful response threw gasoline on the fire; "All those who gave them negative feedback on social media are "pansies" who "have no balls."

In an unprecedented action, Kitchen Nightmares returned to Scottsdale the following season. In Return to Amy's Baking Company, April 11, 2014, things went from bad to worse, with Samy demanding money for his appearance on the show.

Ostensibly to repair their besmirched  reputation, Amy and Samy took their case to Dr. Phil. Bad decision. Dr. Phil had obviously watched the original Kitchen Nightmare program.  And once again, things did not go so well.

ABC have apparently tried to capitalize on their "fame" with an outlandish collection of tee-shirts and baseball caps.

This shirt captures the moment surrounding a pizza, served not only to a local resident who ignited the email firestorm, but also referring to a bad pizza served to chef Ramsay.

A comment in the Huffington Post stated, "While Restaurant Nightmares launched his career, it may have led to the demise of others." I don't think so. The writer doesn't seem familiar with how the formula works.

While it is true 60% of the restaurants failed after GR, including one that  went under during filming, one must remember that the only reason Gordon went to these establishments was that they were already failing. And requested his help to avoid floundering!

Gordon Ramsay began  this television odyssey in England. From 2004 - 2007.  Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares produced 5 series, with 32 episodes. Beginning in 2007 "Ramsay's" was dropped from the program title, and 7 seasons, 90 programs, were produced in the United States under the title Kitchen Nightmares.

What follows is a listing of "winners and losers." The list does not include the original episodes, "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," filmed in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Season One (2007)
•  Peter's, Babylon, New York - Closed in December 2008
•  Dillon's, New York, New York - (Renamed Purnima by Ramsay) - Closed in late 2009
•  The Mixing Bowl, Bellmore, New York - Closed in 2009
•  Seascape, Islip, New York - Closed in 2007, only five months after filming
•  The Olde Stone Mill, Tuckahoe, New York - Open
•  Sebastian's, Toluca Lake, California - Closed in January 2008
•  Finn McCool's, Westhampton, New York - Closed in March 2012
•  Lela's, Ponoma, California - Closed during filming 
•  Campania, Fair Lawn, New Jersey - Sold in 2010, closed in January 2011
•  The Secret Garden, Moorpark, California - Open

Season Two (2008-2009) 
•  Handlebar, Mount Sinai, New York - Sold in 2010, then closed in 2011
•  Giuseppe's, Macomb Township, Michigan - Closed in July 2009
•  Trobiano's, Great Neck, New York - Closed in October 2008
•  Black Pearl, New York, New York - Closed in 2008, four days after the episode aired
•  J Willy's, South Bend, Indiana - Closed February 2009
•  Hannah & Mason's, Cranbury, New Jersey - Closed in February 2010
•  Jack's Waterfront, St. Clair Shores, Michigan - Closed in late 2010
•  Sabatiello's, Stamford, Connecticut - Closed in October 2008
•  Fiesta Sunrise, West Nyack, New York - Closed in September 2008
•  Sante La Brea, Los Angeles, California - Closed in June 2011
•  Café 36, La Grange, Illinois - Closed in 2009

Season Three (2010) 
•  Hot Potato Café, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Closed in 2011
•  Flamangos, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey - (Renamed The Junction) Closed in 2011
•  Bazzini, Ridgewood, New Jersey - Closed in early 2011
•  Mojito, Brooklyn, New York - Open
•  Lido di Manhattan, Manhattan Beach, California - Open
•  Le Bistro, Lighthouse Point, Florida - Open
•  Casa Roma, Lancaster, California - Open
•  Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, California - Closed in 2011
•  Anna Vicenzo's, Boca Raton, Florida - Closed in early 2011
•  Fleming, Miami, Florida - Closed in October 2010
•  Sushi-Ko, Thousand Oaks, California - Closed in August 2009, weeks after filming

Season 4 (2011) 
•   Spanish Pavillion, Harrison, New Jersey - Open
•  Classic American, West Babylon, New York - Closed in 2013
•  PJ's Steakhouse, Queens, New York - Closed in May 2009, only weeks after filming
•  Grasshopper Also, Carlstadt, New Jersey - Closed in October 2012
•  Davide, Boston, Massachusetts - Closed in January 2012
•  Down City, Providence, Rhode Island - Closed in December 2011
•  Tavolini, Bridgeport, Connecticut - Closed in December 2011, only weeks after filming
•  Kingston Café, Pasadena, California - Open
•  La Frite, Sherman Oaks, California - Open
•  Capri, Eagle Rock, California - Open
•  Zeke's, Metairie, Louisiana - Closed in October 2012
•  Ocean, New Orleans, Louisiana - Open

Season Five (2011 to 2012)
•Blackberry's, Plainfield, New Jersey - Closed in March 2013
•  Leone's, Montclair, New Jersey - Open
•  Mike & Nellie's, Oakhurst, New Jersey - Closed in January 2012
•  Luigi's D'Italia, Anaheim, California - Open
•  Burger Kitchen, Los Angeles, California - Closed in February 2012
•  The Greek at the Harbor, Ventura, California - Open
•  Michon's, College Park, Georgia - Closed in August 2013
•  El Greco, Austin, Texas - Closed in December 2011
•  Park's Edge, Atlanta, Georgia - Closed in July 2013
•  Spin A Yarn Steakhouse, Fremont, California - Open
•  Charlie's, La Verne, California - Closed in 2012
•  Café Hon, Baltimore, Maryland - Open
•  Chiarella's, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Open
•  Zocalo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Closed in December 2012, months after filming

Season 6 (2012 to 2013) 
•  La Galleria, Boston, Massachusetts - Open
•  Mama Maria's, Brooklyn, New York - Open
•  Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine, Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania - Open
•  Barefoot Bob's, Hull, Massachusetts - Open
•  Olde Hitching Post Restaurant & Tavern, Hanson, Massachusetts - Open
•  Levanti's Italian Restaurant, Beaver, Pennsylvania - (Renamed Levanti's American Bistro by Ramsay) - Closed in November 2013
•  Sam's Mediterranean Kabob Room, Monrovia, California - Closed in January 2014
•  Nino's Italian Restaurant, Long Beach, California - Open
•  Mill Street Bistro, Norwalk, Ohio - (Renamed Maple City Tavern in December 2013) - Open
•  Yanni's, Seattle, Washington - Open
•  Prohibition Grille, Everett, Washington - Open
•  Chappy's, Nashville, Tennessee - Closed in June 2013
•  Amy's Baking Company, Scottsdale, Arizona - Open. No help provided.

Season Seven (2014) 
•  Re-visit, Amy's Baking Company, Scottsdale, Arizona - Open. No help provided.
•  Pantaleone's, Denver, Colorado - Open
•  Old Neighborhood Restaurant, Arvada, Colorado - Open
•  Kati Allo, Queens, New York - Open
•  Mangia Mangia, Woodland Park, Colorado - Open
•  Zayna Flaming Grill, Redondo Beach, California - Open
•  Bella Luna, Easton, Pennsylvania - Closed in November 2013, months after filming

We can take solace in that Hell's Kitchen is still in production, and most assuredly, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Kitchen Nightmares will go into syndication, assuring us of many hours of constructive and inspirational entertainment!

"Chefs are so proud and filled with martyrism that they would rather sit there and sink than think out of the box and fix it. When they do well, it is never [publicized]. When they don’t do well, you get the blame for it." Gordon Ramsay.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Boeing 737s Crash into the Clark Fork River!

Thursday afternoon, July 3, 2014, three Boeing 737's crashed into the Clark Fork River!

Montana Rail Link (MRL) spokeswoman Linda Frost says  the derailment happened around 4p.m. 18 miles east of Superior near Fish Creek Road and Interstate 90.

A total of 19 cars derailed; six cars were transporting 737 fuselages; three of them nose dived toward the river. Three cars carrying soybeans, three cars with denatured alcohol and the other seven were empty. No alcohol or soybeans leaked and no one was hurt.

The fuselages were en-route from Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, Kansas to final assembly at Boeing in Renton, Washington.

Fuselages covered in protecting coating passing through Renton on the old Milwaukee Road down the middle of Hauser Way, thence to the Fab Building on Lake Washington.  This is the same facility that I was fortunate to witness the first flight of a Boeing 707, from the cab of a salvage barge anchored at the end of the runway!

This derailment occurred approximately 20 miles from the scene of another derailment last September (2013.)

In that event, MRL spokesperson Lynda Frost says 24 of the 66 car train derailed, sending some of them down a steep slope and into the Clark Fork River.

It's scenes like these that have anti-oil unit train groups sounding the alarm. Imagine DOT-111A with Bakken Crude aboard. The rocky embankment could tear the cars open like a cheap beer can!

Leaving this story on a brighter note, students of "The Road" recall beautiful scenes like this, captured by Ron V. Nixon.

A pair of Little Joes lead a mob of Geeps along the Clark Fork River. The caption reads "Milwaukee E-73, E-20, 189, 183 and 17 near Superior, Montana,  June 14, 1974."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

To Build a Ferry: M/V Tokitae

Recently, the Washington State Department of Transportation took delivery of a new ferry, M/V Tokitae (toh-kee-tay), as part of the Washington State Ferries Fleet Modernization Program.

Under State law, ferries must be constructed by Washington State ship yards, of which up to five yards can bid on new construction.

In the 144-car, 1,500 walk-on Olympic Class, three vessels:

•  Tokitae
•  Samish
•  As yet unnamed

The new ferries are built in four modules:

•  On March 2, 2013, Nichols Brothers Boat Building of Freeland, Washington, began construction of the ferry superstructure.

•  The keel was laid on March 29, 2012, at Vigor Industrial on Harbor Island, Seattle.  As a kid growing up in Seattle, we remember the Vigor complex as Todd Shipyard. An impressive list of ships were fabricated at this location!

Portland (Oregon) based Vigor purchased Todd in December, 2010.

•  The bows, #1 End and #2 End, were built at Jesse Engineering in Tacoma and delivered to Vigor for assembly.

The 1,100-ton superstructure was loaded onto a barge for delivery to Vigor. The 1,800-ton keel and 1,100-ton superstructure were mated on March 5th., 2014.

This time-lapse video begins with the keel being laid inside Vigors shop. When completed, it is wheeled onto a floating dry dock. At 1:30 in the tape, the hull module is seen aboard the dry dock. Then the house is moved from the barge, with the final scene showing the competed vessel floated out of the dry dock.

The $144 M USD ferry was completed in March 2014, and Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson christened the M/V Tokita on March 26, 2014.

A few weeks ago, some 800 visitors attended the M/V Tokitae Community Celebration. VIP's included members of the Samish and Swinomish tribes. "Samish" is a tribal word meaning "giving people."

Swinomish, Samish, Lower Skagit and Kikiallus, who joined together to form the present day Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Seven generations ago, in 1855, Swinomish Chiefs and eighty-one other tribal Chiefs gathered at Múckl-te-óh (present-day Mukilteo, Washington) to sign the Treaty of Point Elliott.

"Tokitae" is the Samish tribal greeting meaning "nice day." It's also the name of a Washington orca, captured at Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, about 15 miles north of Freeland, Washington, where the Tokitae superstructure was fabricated.

Now named "Lolita," Tokitae is existing at the Miami Seaquarium.

This link provides some insight as to how Puget Sounder's and many other folk feel about Orcas in captivity.

The vessel has five decks, with the first deck being the lower vehicle deck, followed by an upper vehicle deck, the passenger deck, sun deck, navigation bridge deck and the upper house level.

Tokitae is fitted an advanced fire suppression system, two elevators for better accessibility, a sewage holding tank and fuel holding tanks.

The Tokitae is fitted with four Marine Evacuation System (MES) stations, manufactured by Liferaft Systems Australia, (LSA.)

C02 launches the slide and rafts. The Kennewick, Salish and Chetzemoka are also fitted with this system.

M/V Tokitae Particulars

• Owner: Washington State Ferries
• Class: Olympic (1st of 3)
IMO: 9720160
MMSI: 367608860
• Call Sign: WDH3588
• Gross tonnage: 8,000 tons
• Summer DWT: 1,400 tons
• Length: 362.5 ft.(110 m)
• Beam: 83 ft.(25 m)
• Draft: 24.5 ft.(7.5 m)
• Capacity Passengers: 1,500 Vehicles: 144

• Prime Mover: 3,000 hp (2,237 kW) EMD 12-710G7CT2 x2. (G7C = marine, T2 = Tier Two expectations, x2 = two engines.) Locomotive version; winding up.
• Speed: 17 k (31 mph).
• Detroit Diesel generator sets (Hotel power.)

• Falk reduction gears, interconnecting high speed shaft (Number 1 and Number 2 sets side by side.)

•  Becker articulated rudders give predictable response in tight quarters and low speed maneuvering.
•  Rolls-Royce Controllable Pitch Propellers.

Crew, selected by seniority, is in training - crew familiarization - learning how to operate the vessel with demonstrated confidence. She's scheduled to begin service the first week of July.

On March 8 of this year,Washington State Governor Jay Inslee welded the initials of his grandchild "BRI" at the keel laying ceremony for the state's second Olympic class ferry, the M/V Samish, at Vigor Industrial Seattle shipyard.

The keel laying and first weld are maritime traditions equivalent to placing the cornerstone in a new building.

M/V Samish was lowered into the water last month, and is expected to be placed in service next spring.

Party Conversation Starter.  Double-ended ferries; do they have a "bow" and a "stern?"  

Photos courtesy WSDOT except as noted