Dallas baker wins Food Network challenge

To a pastry chef, the term “piece o’ cake” probably pisses you off. (Don’t even get ‘em started on “easy as pie.”) Cake is hard! Especially when you’re trying to impress the judges on a national network, commemorating the re-release of the most popular animated film of all time.

But Dallas’ Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery and Studio made it look, well, like a piece o’ cake Sunday night, when she won the Food Network’s Lion King-themed bake-off.

Weber’s dynamic interpretation of the villainous Scar in mid-leap bested all the other competitors, with the show airing the second weekend when the new 3D Lion King claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

This is nothing new for the gay-friendly Weber, who last year designed “pride cake” cupcakes with rainbows and HRC symbols. She has won 14 medals from the Food Network, including eight first-place citations — three more than her nearest competitor. The episode airs again tonight at 7 p.m.

You can find Weber’s treats at FrostedArt.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Master of HIS domain

Ben Starr, the recently out Dallas cheftestant on Fox’s ‘MasterChef,’ camps it up on Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition series

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

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MASTERCHEF
Airs Tuesdays on Fox (Ch. 4) at 8 p.m.

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When Lewisville-based travel writer Ben Starr auditioned for Fox’s MasterChef, he doubted they’d be interested in his style of home cooking. But not only did he make the cut, he’s been one of the more memorable cheftestants — just this week, he had the judge’s favorite dish.

The series is only halfway through, but for Starr, it’s already made a huge difference in his life: It forced him to come out to his parents just last month. We talked to him about the experience and his favorite meals.

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You’ve been struggling since you wowed the judges at your audition. The audition kinda set me up to expect that I would do well in the competition, but we spun pretty quickly into an emphasis on gourmet cuisine, which is not my thing at all. My street tacos were a little bit spiffy, and I am extremely well traveled, but I tend to eat peasant food even when I travel. I was seeing all these people around me making restaurant quality cuisine and trying to compete on their level. Nice to make a good ol’ catfish in a skillet.

What was the hardest challenge for you? The biggest challenge has definitely been psychological. I’m competitive by nature and I want to feel like I’m competition, but I was surrounded by chefs that were a little more connected to the Food Network that I am. They’d use words like umami [a Japanese word for a savory flavor] and I had to go look it up. There was a common lexicon among the contestants about what these famous chefs I’ve never heard of are doing in their restaurants. I felt like an idiot stumbling around in the dark. That started to leak into my cooking and I began to question, “Is this sophisticated enough? Is this even sophisticated?” The episode this week was a turning point. I felt like for the first time I’m back in my own element.

You certainly have made an impression with your outfits. I don’t wear those hats at home, though I do wear an apron, just for practicality. But [the show] has started this storytelling legacy — people expect me to wear them when they come over. My mom made me the pumpkin hat and apron. Actually, she made me five or six pairs to wear. That’s why you always see a different one on me each episode. I was going through them.

Was wearing them part of a conscious effort to stand during the auditions? I am fairly myself, though I had to set myself apart that wasn’t just about food. I needed to be someone [the judges] remember when they go home at night. That’s why I talked about my rural upbringing, because I thought it would generate a memory.

Had you watched the show before? Did you know what to expect? I don’t watch much TV, but this is not my first time being on TV, which is ironic because I abhor reality television —it brings out the worst in our culture. But I did Rachael Ray’s So You Think You Can Cook in 2007. The audience there was much more caring and nurturing than the machine on MasterChef, but I was a little bit prepared for the frank judgment.

I did not watch the first season of MasterChef, but my friend Karen Rutherford said, “I’ll never speak to you again if you don’t audition [for season 2].” So I watched them all on Hulu. I just sweated my way through them. I knew how intense and stressful it is to cook on TV, and saw how brutal Joe Bastianich and Gordon Ramsay were with the contestants. I thought: Screw this. Then a few weeks passed and the terror faded [and I went through the lengthy audition process]. It was a lot of work — the most difficult full-time job I’ve ever had that doesn’t pay.

What’s your favorite kind of cuisine? While my DNA wants to say Mexican food — I had it in the womb six times a week — I am most intrigued by Thai food. It is so complex, yet so much of it is cooked on the street in a tiny little cart. From the richest to the poorest, everybody eats on the street.

How about a favorite meal? One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had was in Egypt on New Year’s Eve in 2001. I spent it on Mount Sinai and hiked eight miles back down to the car for the drive back to our resort. [The driver] fell asleep at the wheel and we plummeted into a canyon. Eventually a camel train of Bedouins came by the bottom of this canyon. They took us onto the camels and rode four or five miles to their camp. All the women came out, killed a goat and started cooking while the men tried to pull our car out of the canyon.

It was a humble meal — just a goat stew and some flat bread — but the flavors were really intense and felt they came right out of the desert. I could not even communicate with these people who live in abject poverty, but still they were willing to kill one of their last goats and throw a big feast for us because it’s in their nature to be hospitable. I realized it was important to me to use food to nurture people in my life — I could never be a chef and be in the back. I need to be with the people. My partner is one of the main reasons I cook — we’ve been together eight years and I want to marry him one day.

Did you plan to be “the gay guy” on the show? When I was on [Rachael Ray] it was not addressed and I didn’t talk about it openly. At that point my family didn’t know I was gay — in fact, I didn’t come out to my parents until about five weeks ago. They were totally shell-shocked — they didn’t have a clue.

Maybe mom should have guessed since she made you all those hats. Ha! Maybe.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Because placing termites on all judges’ gavels is not practical…

Via Joe comes this call to action from Prop 8′s top pastor, Jim Garlow:

It’s time to think out of the box, and we can succeed. Just this past year, we notched a huge victory in Iowa against the three judges that superseded the will of the people by imposing their own agenda upon the Constitution. Christians have a warrior in Bob Vander Plaats, who led the fight that resulted in sending three judges home after they grossly overreached their constitutional role in redefining marriage. We must show other judges who have forgotten the constitutional constraints that there are consequences for their actions. Make your voice heard. Watch your email for our ReAL Action Alert. We’re going to tell the Ninth Circuit that their services are no longer required.” – Jim Garlow, head of Newt Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership, saying his group will somehow eliminate the entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Quote Of The Day – Jim Garlow [Joe.My.God]

A fair, independent judiciary is a terrible thing to waste.




Good As You

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Incoming Iowa State Rep. Kim Pearson Is On A Mission to Impeach Those 4 Activist Judges

A ragtag trio of Iowa state lawmakers want to impeach the remaining four State Supreme Court justices who voted to approve the state's gay marriage laws. They're being led by Kim Pearson, an incoming House member, who says is "drafting an impeachment measure because she thinks the court exceeded its authority when it struck down a law defining marriage as being between one man and one woman." For the record, state lawmakers can only impeach sitting justices if they are guilty of crimes or malfeasance; it's that second word I'm sure Pearson will be focusing on. Pearson will need a simple majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate.


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Queerty

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No time for DADT, lots of time for judge’s impeachment

This is ridiculous. Some of us actually defended Harry Reid when many of our readers couldn’t have cared less about his re-election. Please don’t prove our loyalty wrong, Senator.

We just got word that the Senate is planning to spend 3 days impeaching a judge next week. (Background on the impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous here.) This, at a time when the Senate claims to have little to no time to deal with all those pesky issues like DADT and a bill to authorize the entire US military. But they do find time to impeach some judge who could be just as easily impeached in January.

If these bozos don’t figure out how to get DADT repealed in the next two to three weeks, there is going to be hell to pay. You think the gays are pissed now? Just wait until the Obama presidency and the Reid/Pelosi Congress couldn’t get DADT repealed, ENDA passed or DOMA repealed. This is pathetic.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Department of Justice Appeals Judge’s Order That Lesbian Nurse Margaret Witt, Discharged Under DADT, Be Reinstated

The Department of Justice late this afternoon appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The WaPo reports: Witt

"U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma ruled in September that Maj. Margaret Witt's dismissal under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violated her rights. Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. The Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The government is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional."

The government, however, did not ask the court to stay the decision, suggesting that Witt may serve during the appeal.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year.  Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.  In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”


Towleroad News #gay

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Nation’s First Openly-Transgender Judges Make History

Yesterday saw history made with the election and appointment of the nation’s first two openly-transgender judges.  In California, Victoria Kolakowski declared victory in an election for a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court.  Kolakowski has more than 20 years of judicial experience, but was initially denied the ability to sit for the Louisiana Bar Exam because she is transgender.  And in Texas, Phyllis Randolph Frye, a prominent legal advocate for the transgender community, was appointed as an Associate Municipal Judge in the City of Houston.  Frye’s nomination to the position by openly-lesbian Mayor Annise Parker was unanimously confirmed by the Houston City Council.  Our congratulations to Kolakowski and Frye – they will make excellent judges, and they have already made history!


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Iowa GOP Senate Leader: Four Remaining Judges Will be Removed Unless the People Get to Vote on Gay Marriage

Following the recent successful right-wing campaign to oust three pro-equality Iowa Supreme Court judges in the recent election, reelected Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley is threatening to take out the remaining four judges who approved marriage equality unless Iowans are allowed to vote on an amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The Iowa Supreme Court approved marriage equality in a 7-0 vote in April 2009.

Said McKinley to Radio Iowa: Mckinley

“That is an issue that the people overwhelmingly said, ‘We want to have a say in this. It should not be overreaching government or judges. I believe the (justices) would still be in office had Mike Gronstal allowed that vote over the past two years. It would not even have been an issue…You can lay that squarely at the feet of the Democrats. And I don’t know if they want to be responsible for a redo of this in two years on a (judicial) retention vote or not, but I would think that many of their members who have professed that they think people should have a vote will be given the opportunity to do the right thing."

Iowa Senate Democrat Majority Leader Gronstal recently vowed to block any attempts to bring a marriage amendment to a vote.

Democrats will retain a 26-24 edge in the Iowa Senate, while Republicans are taking the House. House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen intends to bring a marriage amendment to the floor.

Still, the process to push any ballot measure through is tough, Radio Iowa adds: "A resolution must be passed by both the Iowa House and Senate in 2011 or 2012 and then again in 2013 or 2014 before an amendment could be placed on the General Election ballot."


Towleroad News #gay

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The nationwide ramifications of losing three judges in Iowa, and crazy Maggie weighs in

Steve Silberman writes about the nationwide ramifications of NOM’s successful effort to remove three judges in Iowa who ruled in favor of marriage equality. You’ll note that someone who sure seems to be the real Maggie Gallagher weighed into Steve’s comment section.

Never mind that the removal of the judges threatens to impede the operation of the judiciary in Iowa, denying justice not only to the minority targeted by NOM’s mystery donors, but to anyone else in the state court system. Never mind that the state’s governor, Chet Culver — also defeated by a Republican on Tuesday — is unlikely to fill those vacancies on the bench before his term ends in January, further tampering with the due process of law in the state. Never mind that John Adams, one of the founding fathers who people like Gingrich and Sarah Palin like to invoke at any opportunity, believed that a judiciary protected from the political storms that rage around the contentious issues of the day is one of the foundations of a stable democracy:

The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and every blessing of society depend so much upon an upright and skillful administration of justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that. The judges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men.

The sweeping ramifications of NOM’s success in Iowa this week are not lost on legal authorities. “What is so disturbing about this is that it really might cause judges in the future to be less willing to protect minorities out of fear that they might be voted out of office,” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, told the New York Times. “Something like this really does chill other judges.”

You’ll note, via the link above, that “Maggie” says that John Adams, who alive from 1735-1826, probably agreed with her about marriage equality. Putting aside the fact that Maggie Gallagher takes pride in having a point of view that was popular in the late 1700s, I wonder if John Adams agrees with Maggie about slavery too (while Adams refused to own slaves, he did oppose emancipation – how are you on emancipation Maggie?)




AMERICAblog Gay

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Iowa Supreme Court Judges Booted

JUDGE MARSHA TERNUS X390 (FAIR USE) | ADVOCATE.COMIowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and two other justices who ruled in favor of legalizing
marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples have been voted out of
office.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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