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12 Martha Stewart wannabes from the corners of the country try to outstyle each other. The prize - a contract from CBS, guaranteed television appearances and the chance at stardom.

Recaps by Julie Suchard, GSNN


Joan Lunden
Judges: Candace Bushnell, David Evangelista, Bobby Flay
Creator: Larry Bleidner, Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio, Irene Zutell
EP: Marc Summers
Packager: CBS Productions
Airs: Thursdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS

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Mime, Synchronized Swimmers and the Perfect Dinner Party - January 13, 2005

The teams are shown getting dressed. Tim, the only obviously heterosexual male, is shown without a shirt; almost, but not quite, a six-pack. Beaver Tim says that his main focus is getting rid of the other team. He will have little work to achieve this goal, since Team Artisan, like the tapes on “Mission: Impossible” will self-destruct in five seconds.

Joan Lunden, with hair looking stiffer than a President with an intern hiding under his desk, introduces the next challenge. She says that all great stylemakers know how throw a great party and be a great host, so the next test will showcase party skills. She shows an ornate frame with a list of six options divided into three sections that each team must choose from: "Red" or "White", "Little" or "Big", and "French Inside" or "American Outside."

Since the Crafty Beavers won last week, they get to choose first. They choose “Red”. Team Artisan chooses “Little” next; obviously, size does not matter to them. [Recall from last week: they didn’t like having a strong male member.] The Crafty Beavers choose “American Outside”, allowing Team Artisan to “French Inside” (no kissing involved, however). When the final choices were recapped, Darlene squealed, not realizing that her team had been screwed in all three of the choices.

Joan then translates what these choices mean to the contestants. The Crafty Beavers will serve “Red” wine, using the “Big” kitchen, at an “American” themed party “Outside” of the poolhouse. They will have synchronized swimmers as their entertainment. Team Artisan will serve “White” wine, using the “Little” kitchen. They are to serve a “French” themed dinner “Inside” the dining room. They are “lucky” enough to get a mime as entertainment. [Oh God! Not a mime…]

Each team will have 36 hours and $2,500 to prepare a three-course meal for twelve people, the judges and the team. [Wait! Isn’t that 8 or 9 nine people, depending on the team?] Judges will visit each party twice, for drinks and appetizers, then later for dinner and dessert. [They will probably visit the bathroom between parties to purge.] The judging will be based on creativity and presentation and taste of the food. For their individual projects, each contestant will have $40 to buy supplies to create a gift bag for the judges.

The Crafty Beavers talk about their ideas for their party. Mitch immediately throws out ideas. Mitch thinks ‘Kitsch’, ‘1950s’, and Thurston Howell. [Wait! Wasn’t the character of Mr. Howell created in the 1960s?] Amy says that her group is full of people with big egos: Mitch tells people what to do, Mychael controls the kitchen… Mitch wants to make deviled eggs as an appetizer. Michael suggests the more exotic deviled quail eggs instead, but the group doesn’t agree with her.

Over at Team Artisan, Michelle takes control. She volunteers to make “killer” lobster tails for the main course. Margo would like to serve rack of lamb. Darlene says that most chefs specialize: Michelle was a pastry chef yesterday, but all of a sudden she’s a regular chef today.

At Crafty Beaver lodge, Heather and Denise talk to the synchronized swimmers. They tell them that they want to make them fancy robes and make them do slave labor by passing out hors d’oeuvres. Heather giggles about the “ooh laa laa” flowered swim cap that she will be wearing to the party. At Crafty Beaver lodge, Denise and Mitch getting into a pissing match about the table covering.

At Team Artisan, Margo wonders if mimes have telephones. Kimberly says that nobody likes mimes. [I am sure that mimes do not like her much either.]

Michelle and Kimberly go shopping for food. [Didn’t they learn last week to never send Kimberly shopping?] It’s interesting to note that the lobsters Michelle picked out were red, which means that they were probably already cooked (or spoiled): does Michelle know this? [Apparently not]

The Artisan shopping spree costs $1,008.07. Darlene wants to go to the store too, but Michelle doesn’t want to let her go. Darlene also complains that nobody agrees with her ideas. When Michelle and Kimberly return, it’s obvious that they did not incorporate any of Darlene’s suggestions so she gets upset.

Beaver Mitch talks about his table cover. He places a large plastic sheet on the table, which they cover with rhododendron leaves applied with spray adhesive. Denise attempts to center the table cover, which really bugs Mitch. Catfight? Mitch says that Denise has made a lot of decisions and he hasn’t said a word about them, so he wants to do his table. Denise says that she is not going to give in to Mitch just because he is the loudest. Denise is talking expressively with her hands while she is cutting leaves from stems with scissors. Mitch says, “Would you please not point those scissors in my face?!” Denise retorts, “Oh stop being a pansy! Good God.” Denise says that he is a moody snake. Mitch says that Denise is a control-freak and if they lose the competition, it’s because of her.

Michelle is doing a lot of the cooking and baking. Michelle says that Darlene is doing the hors d’oeuvres, but Darlene says that she didn’t know about it. Darlene and Michelle get into another pissing match. Darlene wants Michelle to delegate, but because the team is impressed by Michelle’s ability to cook French recipes, she has little support. Darlene makes shrimp-stuffed tomato appetizers, which, although attractive, are not French. Will this come back to haunt the team? (Cue scary music.)

Mitch continues to work on the table cover. He puts down a layer of sheet-cork, followed by planters of wheat grass in a line down the center. Looks nice.

Darlene sews napkins and a tablecloth. Dawn works on boxes with pre-printed toasts inside. [How first-grade teacherish of her.] Michelle works on her truffles, but the butter was too hard, so she is using her hair dryer to thaw the butter.

Mitch works on his individual project. He puts rocks and goldfish crackers into plastic bags and calls them fishbowls. [I think that my eight year old has done the same thing. Wow, she must be a “designer” too.]
Kimberly makes a wooden box that she fills with truffles. Mychael makes a red-white-and-blue colored bucket and fills it with ingredients to make chili.

Denise has visions of the synchronized swimmers looking like young, thin models in black stiletto heels. She is disappointed when they show up, because they were “real” swimmers [from the East German swim team, perhaps?] who were somewhat overweight middle-aged women. But they did wear black heels, even in the water.

With two hours to go, Michelle’s “killer” lobster tails end up dead: a painful mushy mess. Darlene suggests making a cream sauce to rescue the lobster meat, even if the whole tails can’t be served. She needed to make a roux with butter and flour, but Michelle tells her there is no more flour. She later finds a container of pastry flour on the floor and realizes that Michelle lied to her. It’s a good thing that the group had racks of lamb as a backup dish to use as a main course.

Here come the judges. Candace Bushnell, showing remarkable restraint, left the fishnets and pimp coat home this week. Instead she is wearing a remarkably subdued peach sweater set and cut velvet trousers. David Evangelista arrives, but Bobby Flay is late due to traffic.

The judges visit Team Artisan in the house for cocktails and appetizers and are greeted at the door by the most hyper mime ever seen. Both Candace and David complain about the temperature of the Veuve Clicquot champagne. David says that he is not being a “pushy dinner guest” [but he is] and won’t stop talking about the warm champagne. Kimberly said that she chilled the champagne in the freezer for an hour. As she says this, the judges visibly cringe and give her a lecture about the Veuve Clicquot champagne and how it’s a coarser champagne than Dom Perignon or Cristal, and how it should be chilled in an ice bucket. Kimberly says that she has drunk a lot of champagne [Cold Duck, perhaps?] and it tastes fine to her. She says that she doesn’t like their dinner guests. Darlene says that Candace and David are rude, but it’s OK, because they are judges.

Candace asks about the stuffed tomatoes [her white trash cuisine radar must have gone off], and more specifically, if they are French. Darlene does her little giggle act and trashes her team [again!], telling Candace that they are not French. Michelle feels that Darlene should support the team, no matter what and gets upset. Darlene trashes Michelle’s menu. Candace points out that the English use mayonnaise in their dishes, not the French. [True, but weird considering that it was invented by a Frenchman.]

The judges to go the poolhouse to visit with the Beavers. Heather is dressed as Esther Williams. The Beavers are serving apple martinis with ice in them. The judges ask for their martinis with no ice. Candace tries Mitch’s eggs and hates them. The judges are further annoyed when they sit at the table alone, because the Crafty Beavers are all working in the kitchen. David says that his scallop appetizer is cold and asks that it be reheated. He and Candace watch the synchronized swimmers do their synchronized thing.

Team Artisan serves dinner and dessert. Judge Bobby Flay finally arrives and asks for left-overs from the first course. He is told that he will get some, but is displeased when he finds out that none are left. The mime annoys Candace so she begs Margo to get rid of him. Candace is served lamb and complains about how it’s usually cooked to personal taste and shouldn’t be served at dinner parties. Both she and David say that they can’t eat the meat because it’s too raw. The judges enjoy the dessert, three elaborately presented pastries. The judges say that they enjoyed the company of the members of Team Artisan.

The judges return to the poolhouse for dinner with the Crafty Beavers, or, as Denise says, “more abuse”. Mychael wisely saved some of her appetizer and offers it to Bobby. Dinner of Beef Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes with a Corn and Green Bean Succotash impresses the judges. Mitch seems disappointed when the judges tell Mychael that the food is perfect. Heather tells the judges that she might be able to beat Mychael in a cooking contest. [Doubtful at best.] The judges are offered Heather’s chocolate cheesecake brownies for dessert. David says that they are “doughy” and Mychael smiles smugly. Denise and Amy complain about how tired they are. Mitch says that he doesn’t do “foo foo” parties at home. He is proud of his white trash heritage which involves moonshine and wiping your mouth on your sleeve [and probably eating roadkill possum].

It’s time for judges’ comments. David enjoyed hanging out with Team Artisan. Candace says that she enjoyed the décor of Crafty Beavers. Bobby says that everyone did a great job.

The judges once again complain about the champagne and tell the Artisans that they needed to get control of their mime. Bobby complains that the group used an Italian rice at a French dinner, while Darlene agrees. [Traitor!]

Candace tells the Crafty Beavers that the sensed tension within the group. Candace complains about the deviled eggs, saying that they should have done quail eggs instead [as Mychael had suggested]. Mitch stood up for his deviled egg idea and says that he had no regrets about serving them [good for him].

The judges, no surprise, pick Crafty Beavers as the winner. The judges look at Team Artisan’s individual projects and decide that the Dawn’s candle and framed mirror is too common and could be picked up anywhere, while the presentation of pastry chef Michelle’s truffles also failed to impress. There were two offerings of truffles, and Kimberly actually used her carpentry skills to good effect by making a box for her truffles. David said he would consider keeping and using the box again, while all the judges agreed that Michelle’s cheap cardboard box couldn’t be used again.

At the rock garden, both Dawn and Michelle ask the team to pick the person that they believe will help the team the most. Margo votes to eliminate Dawn, because she is a weak link. Darlene votes to get rid of Michelle because she lied to her. Kimberly votes to eliminate Michelle as well, prompting a shocked reaction from Darlene.

Tom’s comment from last week: “I probably shot myself in the foot, but they probably shot themselves in the head.” Seems even more relevant this week.

Michelle says that she puts her best foot forward and probably wouldn’t do anything different. Here is a link to the truffles that got Michelle kicked out of the contest.

Next week the teams get evened up. Who will be sacrificed,…er…, sent to Team Artisan for the high-end camping challenge? [High-end camping? Now there’s an oxymoron.]

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