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Michael Silverstein Brings A Taste Of The Strip District To Fox's 'MasterChef'

Michael Silverstein competes for a spot on Fox's reality show MasterChef. He says he's greatly inspired by Pittsburgh's Strip District where he admits he visits, "at least twice a week."


On today's program: The man accused of plotting to attack a church on the North Side is due in court; MasterChef contestant and Pittsburgher Michael Silverstein draws culinary inspiration from the Strip District; East Pittsburgh has undergone a number of changes in the year since the death of Antwon Rose; Why are a number of Pittsburgh's roads referred to as runs?; plus a look inside Pitt’s newest nationality room celebrating Philippine culture.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer due in court today 
(0:00 — 4:10)

The Syrian refugee accused of plotting to bomb a church on the North Side is due in federal court today. Mustafa Mousab Alowemer came to the U.S. three years ago according to officials. A criminal complaint alleges he hoped to inspire followers of ISIS by carrying out plans to attack the Legacy International Worship Center

The FBI found Alowemer through social media posts sympathetic to the Islamic State, and he reportedly shared his plot with an undercover FBI agent posing as a fellow ISIS sympathizer online. 90.5 WESA's An-Li Herring reports that Alowemer faces one count of offering material support to the Islamic State, and two counts of distributing information related to an explosive devices or weapon of mass destruction.  

Michael Silverstein puts down his hammer to pick up a spatula 
(4:20 — 16:30)

Pittsburgher Michael Silverstein is competing on the tenth season of Fox's hit reality show "MasterChef." His audition for the show featured inspiration from western Pennsylvania with a plate that featured duck and beets. Silverstein says he's routinely inspired by the Strip District's variety and he brought some of that inspiration to the set of MasterChef.

The Stanton Heights resident's day job has him flipping houses and rennovating living spaces, but his passion is in the kitchen. Fans of the show saw him save himself from elimination Thursday night by expertly breaking down a chicken. He says famously intimidating British restaurateur Gordon Ramsay puts added pressure on the contestants during what is already a tense competition. 

Silverstein says he hopes to continue down this culinary path regardless of what happens on the show —which has already wrapped recording ahead of a live finale. He says he's planning to launce a YouTube channel that teaches viewers how to prepare thoughtful, delicious but most importantly healthy meals at home. 

Runs are roads, but only here in western PA
(17:49 — 22:29)

From Saw Mill Run to Nelson Run to Glass Run, there are about 80 roads in Allegheny County that include the word “run” in their names. No one sprints down these streets, but the word is ubiquitous in the region. For WESA's Good Question! series, Katie Blackley explores how the word “run” was introduced to this region when cultural groups from Europe settled in western Pennsylvania.

How policing has changed in East Pittsburgh
(22:30 —26:24)

One year ago this week, Michael Rosfeld, a white East Pittsburgh police officer, fatally shot Antwon Rose II, a black unarmed teenager. The police department subsequently dissolved, leaving state police to patrol the area indefinitely. WESA's Lucy Perkins reports on what's next.

Celebrating Philippine culture at Pitt's newest nationality room
(26:26 — 38:55)

The University of Pittsburgh recently unveiled its 31st nationality room in the Cathedral of Learning. Assistant to the director of nationality rooms Maryann Sivak tells WESA's Maria Scapellato about how the design came together.

“The taskforce wanted to create a room that would capture a look, a moment, an impression—a story of life,” Sivak says.

Tina Purpura, the fundraising chair of the Philippine Nationality Room, has been part of the entire process, which has taken over 20 years of fundraising. "To me, it was so welcoming."  You can check out more information and pictures of Pitt's nationality rooms here

90.5 WESA's Avery Keatley, Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.