Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Food Wars: Pizza Mart Is Better Than Jumbo Slice

Most of the time, I write about the Entertainment Industry from far away. This time, I had the pleasure of experiencing a side of it right in Washington D.C.

There is a show on The Travel Channel called Food Wars. The show is about how there are many cities in the United States with two competing restaurants which make the same item. The purpose of the show is to have a blind taste test to determine which restaurant makes the item better. The results of the show are still only the opinions of a few selected food testers, so the losing restaurant will not be viewed by all customers as inferior to the winning restaurant.

After an episode ends is actually when the fun actually begins. If audience members are near the city of the competition, they can play Food Wars themselves. That is what I decided to do in the case of Pizza Mart vs. Jumbo Slice.

In Washington D.C., two brothers own competing restaurants known for their large slices of pizza. The first brother owned Pizza Mart and began making large slices of pizza. He decided to open a second location called Jumbo Slice and have his brother take over Pizza Mart. The second brother, now in charge of Pizza Mart, decided to change the recipe to make the slices of pizza taste different. So the competition on Food Wars was between the original flavor pizza at Jumbo Slice and the new flavor pizza at Pizza Mart. On the show, Pizza Mart won the competition.

As I have been dieting since April, I decided that I must lose 50 pounds before I get to reward myself by going to both restaurants. On Saturday, July 3rd, I had lost 50 pounds and was ready to try both slices of pizza. I thought that I would prefer the pizza at Jumbo Slice because I tend to prefer more simple recipes over complex ones. I first went to Jumbo Slice so I can see what the original pizza tastes like. I enjoyed it very much. I had no negative comments about the pizza as I ate it. It was a very good slice of pizza.

I walked down the block to Pizza Mart, which is only a few minutes away. I ordered a large slice of pepperoni pizza (the same topping I had on the Jumbo Slice pizza). Within a few bites I realized that Pizza Mart had a better slice of pizza. What stood out to me was the sauce, which tasted like it had a higher quality flavor than the sauce in the pizza at Jumbo Slice. This was not a close competition. Comparing the sauce would be like comparing a steak at a typical bar to what you would find at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Morton’s. I could tell that the sauce at Pizza Mart was a true improvement on the sauce used at Jumbo Slice.

I decided to tell the people working at Pizza Mart that I have just had the pizza at both locations and that I prefer the pizza at Pizza Mart. I spoke with the owner, Mike Chisti, and explained that I am writing an article about both locations and that I have chosen Pizza Mart as the winner.

Here is the best part. Mike Chisti gave me an explanation as to what he does to make the pizza at Pizza Mart better than his brother’s restaurant. He said that he uses a blend of three kinds of cheese, which are cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone. He also adds a secret blend of spices which makes the pizza a little spicier than the pizza at Jumbo Slice. The pizza at Pizza Mart is not spicy, but the additional spice adds richness to the flavor of the pizza at Pizza Mart. The final reason why the pizza is better at Pizza Mart is because instead of the New Jersey Tomatoes which are used at Jumbo Slice, they use California tomatoes at Pizza Mart, which Mike Chisti said are more flavorful.

So why am I writing about food when this is an Entertainment Industry blog? The reason is because the show Food Wars is part of the Entertainment Industry and has provided an outlet for viewers to learn about different restaurants and judge the food independently. To me, it did not matter that the show determined Pizza Mart to be the winner. I wanted to judge both places for myself. My conclusion was that Pizza Mart does indeed make a better slice of pizza, but it was fun to have the opportunity to compare the restaurants. The true winner when it comes to Food Wars is both locations in any episode because the show will actually drive customers to try each competing restaurant. New customers will seek both restaurants out, regardless of which one was declared to be the winner. While I was in Pizza Mart, I heard another customer say that he is there because he heard about Pizza Mart from watching Food Wars. Had I never seen the show, I would not have known that there are places in Washington D.C. where I can get a huge slice of pizza. I am glad that I learned about these restaurants and I had fun evaluating the pizza at each of them.

I am not a food critic. My preference for the pizza at Pizza Mart is just my opinion, and there will be people who will disagree with my choice. If you want to play Food Wars and try both restaurants, then I think that you will enjoy two great slices of pizza. If you do not feel that you can eat more than one slice, then I highly recommend Pizza Mart. Mike Chisti took the pizza from Jumbo Slice and improved it at Pizza Mart with great cheese, excellent spices, and California tomatoes. In the business world, if you want to compete with an excellent product, it is important to make your product better than the original one. Mike Chisti knows this concept, and the pizza at Pizza Mart is excellent.

Here are the addresses of the restaurants:

Pizza Mart
2445 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-9700

Jumbo Slice
2341 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Monday, July 05, 2010

JaMarcus Russell: Purple Drank Connoisseur

In 2007, JaMarcus Russell was the first player selected in the NFL Draft, having been selected by the Oakland Raiders. After three seasons, the Raiders cut him from the team. With his high salary and poor statistics, no team in the NFL would have traded for him and be willing to pay him the amount that he was scheduled to earn. As a free agent, he was being considered by the New York Jets. That consideration has ended now that he has been arrested for being caught with Purple Drank.

What is Purple Drank? For those who are not familiar with it, Purple Drank is a beverage made from Codeine syrup, which can be found in cough syrup. It has been made famous by the rapper Lil Wayne.

JaMarcus Russell had been highly compensated during his first three seasons as an NFL quarterback. The guy can afford any alcoholic beverage that he desired. Instead, he chose Purple Drank, and now he has been arrested. Many people have died using Purple Drank. If JaMarcus Russell wanted to return to the NFL, he truly hurt his chances of making a comeback with his actions.

Ryan Leaf, the second pick in the 1998 NFL Draft behind Peyton Manning, has been considered the biggest draft bust of all time. I think that JaMarcus Russell is possibly going to replace him at the top of the list. It is not just the fact that JaMarcus Russell did a horrible job playing for the Oakland Raiders, but as a free agent, his actions show a lack of dedication to resurrecting his horrible career.

On the bright side, his actions appear to only cause potential harm to himself. He is a free agent, so no NFL team has been hurt by having him on their team at the time of his arrest. If he wasn’t driving while enjoying his Purple Drank, then no one else was at risk of being harmed.

Just like Vince Neil, I hope that he can turn his life around, whether he plays in the NFL again or not. He was a waste of an NFL draft pick, but maybe he can do something meaningful in his life. Heath Shuler was the third pick in the 1994 NFL Draft and never lived up to his potential in the NFL, but he is now in Congress. I wouldn’t expect JaMarcus Russell to aim that high, but maybe he can make a difference with his life in other ways. During Hurricane Katrina, he housed people who needed a play to stay, including musician Fats Domino. There is goodness in JaMarcus Russell and hopefully he can use his good heart again in a positive way.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Vince Neil: Please Don’t Drive!

I feel very bad for musicians who struggle with alcohol addiction. We live in a culture in which alcohol is legal, accepted, and promoted… but many people are addicted to it. I don’t drink alcohol, but I do not support banning it. Unlike the use of drugs, alcohol is legal. Alcohol is also accepted in social events. The use of alcohol among those over 21 years-old is not frowned upon like smoking is. The problem is that while alcohol is legal, some people who consume too much of it can develop major substance abuse issues.

On the other hand, I cannot feel bad for those who drink and drive. I have a higher level of anger at those who are rich and famous who drink and drive, because they can afford to have designated drivers (and in many cases, fans who would drive them around for free). I believe that with financial resources and fan support, celebrities have a stronger ability to avoid getting a DUI. I would completely support tougher fines/jail sentences for celebrities who get charged with a DUI because they have the best resources to avoid driving while drunk.

Vince Neil was recently arrested for driving while he was drunk. He is one of the worst offenders that I can imagine writing about. On December 8, 1984, Vince was driving drunk while the drummer, Razzle of Hanoi Rocks, was in his car. Vince crashed into another car. Razzle died at the age of 24 and Hanoi Rocks later disbanded.

So Vince Neil’s choice to drink and drive led to the death of a beloved drummer. I will admit that Razzle is not 100% innocent like the passengers in the other car, because Razzle chose to ride in the car with Vince Neil knowing that Vince was drinking. Regardless of the fact that Razzle chose to ride in the car, he still paid the ultimate price for his decision. Vince should have learned from this situation because he caused the death of a friend. I believe that the jail time that he served for his actions was not long enough. Had he killed one of the passengers of the other vehicle, he probably would have gone to jail for years.

Vince Neil is not immune to tragedy himself. In 1995, his daughter, Skylar, passed away. He knows what it is liked to lose a loved one. He also knows what it is like to be responsible for the death of another person due to driving while drunk. One of the members of his own band, bassist Nikki Sixx, actually died of an overdose for two minutes and was brought back to life by the paramedics. Vince Neil is wealthy enough to pay for a taxi to pick him up if he is too drunk to drive. He has plenty of fans who would be honored to give him a ride home just to be able to say that they helped him out. There is no excuse for his reckless behavior.

I have pure sympathy for anyone who cannot control their addiction to alcohol. If Vince Neil is having difficulty trying to stay sober, I can understand that. I do not frown on those who suffer from an addiction to alcohol. But his decision to drive after drinking is horrible and knowing that he already killed one person by driving while being drunk, he deserves a long jail sentence. I want him to get better. I really do. But his actions are not just risking his own life. He is risking the lives of others… again.

For those who have not heard the music of Razzle’s former band, Hanoi Rocks, I strongly recommend that you watch the video of their song “Don’t You Ever Leave Me” on YouTube. Here is the link:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Tiger Woods: -$750 Million For Cheating

I have always thought that the term “sex addict” is ridiculous, but now I wonder if sexual addition can actually be real. Recently, it has been reported that Tiger Woods will be giving his now ex-wife $750 Million in a divorce settlement in exchange for her silence. If Tiger Woods is willing to risk $750 Million to cheat on one of the most beautiful women in the world, then maybe he actually does suffer from sex addiction.

I think it is hush money and that Tiger Woods actually has other dirt that we do not know about. It’s one thing if the divorce settlement came last year, before we knew that he was cheating with many women. In that situation, an expensive divorce could have prevented the world from finding out that the guy was a serial cheater. But we already know that he is a cheater. So how much is Elin’s silence really worth right now? If we already know that he cheated, then isn’t the secret already out?

I think that there are deeper secrets that Elin knows and Tiger Woods would never want the world to find out. Maybe Tiger Woods has done some things in his personal life that would cause the rest of his sponsors (including Nike) to drop him. Maybe he made offensive comments in his personal life that would be more controversial than any of his activities. Maybe he did nothing else besides cheat on his wife and he’s just paying her the money so she doesn’t write a book about him.

We’ll never know, because $750 Million buys silence. If Tiger Woods has secrets that can further hurt him if they are revealed, he has paid enough money to protect himself from those secrets coming out. I cannot assume what those secrets are because my guess would be as good as anyone else’s. Hopefully for Tiger Woods, he can move on with his life and rebuild his career. One thing is clear, he paid the price for his actions.
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