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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


FACT FILE:

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


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"Perfectly Poached Eggs" - February 5

Day 13 at The Asylum:
Our show opens with Heather unpacking her stuff from a personalized duffel bag and reminiscing about Tim after the latest Rock Garden ceremonial heave-ho. [Somebody has got to tell this girl to get rid of the Aunt Jemima-like headscarves she seems so fond of wearing. Is this stylish? You bet…if you are living in the 1920s, that is.]

Margo drives Team Artisan on little road-trip and is very excited about seeing the changing Fall foliage. Darlene then admits that she is also excited about making it to the 5th challenge [apparently, she figured she didn't have what it takes, and would have been eliminated by now]. She gushes about how her team has "gelled" and how she wants them to stay together as a team. [Ironic foreshadowing?]

They arrive at their destination, the Roger Sherman Inn located in New Canaan, Connecticut. Both teams assemble outside, and Joan Lunden appears wearing a pink "Snow Bunny" jacket with matching plaid scarf. She explains that the teams will be working as innkeepers at this picturesque bed-and-breakfast (B&B). They will have to prepare rooms, man the telephones 24 hours a day, and serve welcome snacks as the guests arrive. They will also need to prepare and serve a formal brunch for the guests the next day. They will be judged on guest satisfaction with the rooms, the food, and the overall service. The individual projects will be wreaths made of fruit, to be presented to the judges.

"One last thing," Joan adds, "We are going to even up these teams." [The Crafty Beavers are currently at 3 members, while Team Artisan has 5.] In an unexpected ‘Falcon Twist', the Beavers get to choose which member of the opposing team they want; whereas, with the previous team-even-up switch, Denise was chosen by the producers for sacrifice. [However, it is interesting to note that whichever team Denise has been on has never lost a team competition to date.] The Beavers grin smugly, while the Artisans preen for the camera. Denise gives a look as if she is confident they will take her back. After a brief conference, Mitch announces that they are taking…Darlene. WTF! For once, Darlene does not seem nearly as surprised as I am.

Dawn tells the camera that Team Artisan won't be as "crazy and fun" anymore with Darlene gone. [But believe me, Dawn, you are crazy enough on your own.] Mitch adds that the choice was strategic, in that Darlene seemed to be the only leveling influence on Team Artisan, and without her the fighting between Margo and Kimberly should escalate. [Very sneaky and smart, you Beavers.] It's 11:00 am when Joan tells the teams that Check-In will occur after 3:00 pm. So they get crackin'.

Joan explains to the camera that what the teams don't know is that the celebrity judges will be the guests. [<sarcasm on> Wow! I never saw that one coming, did you? <sarcasm off> I gotta say that the recent team competition from The Apprentice where they had to renovate and run some motels in Jersey was much more interesting, because they had to cater to non-celebrity guests.] The judge-guests "may" be a bit more demanding than usual. Bobby Flay will be checking in after-hours; David Evangelista will be coming with a "friend" and will want two rooms; and Candace Bushnell is coming with her husband and her dog. The teams will be rotating control of the front desk every 30 minutes. The kitchen is "divided along the middle" with both teams getting an equal stock of groceries. And each team has 3 rooms to clean and prepare for occupancy.

The rooms are disgustingly filthy; obviously prepared this way by the producers to maximize the "yuck" factor. In one room, the bathtub appears to be stained with feces. Dawn cleans the toilet, her "favorite part", while Denise tackles the "Tub-o-Poo" with all-purpose cleaner. [Strangely, no one gets out the Wood's lamp to detect semen stains.] Dawn freaks out when she picks up the sheets and there are wet spots on them. "I hope it's not something grody." [I guess it's too late for the Wood's lamp now.]

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Beaver Darlene starts baking cookies and making other appetizers. Mitch and Heather decide to just let her "do her thing". Darlene says, "It was a lot of pressure. They put me in there not knowing whether I could make an hors d'oeuvres." Heather finds huge wads of hair behind the couch in another guest room. [David's hair, perhaps, since he is much too young to actually be bald?] Amy then complained that there was not enough time to clean the rooms, since they were so filthy.

Dawn takes the first phone call, and just makes stuff up when she doesn't know the proper answers. Margo finally realizes that no one on her team is cooking anything, so she pops down to the kitchen to look. Darlene is literally running around the kitchen getting her team's snacks prepared. Denise says that she was nervous about Margo's cooking, because she hasn't been impressed with her food choices so far. In addition, the editing makes it appear as if Margo has no clue about how a kitchen even works (e.g., she keeps dropping stuff). Darlene continues as the poster child for ADD, by running frantically everywhere. But even so, her snacks look really good. She made artichoke, goat cheese, and mozzarella-covered bruschetta, apricot compote, a feta dip, a cheese and salami platter, smoked salmon-wrapped asparagus spears, and sausage-stuffed mushrooms. The only problem is that she made enough to feed at least eight, if not twelve, people.

Denise and Kimberly arrive in the kitchen to try to help out Margo, and they ultimately decide to make some soup. To the camera, Kimberly continues to bitch about what a control-freak Margo is, while Margo complains that no one is listening to her. They even argue about what color plates to use for serving. Dawn proposes a "turn down service", Margo irons the sheets (on the bed!), and Heather folds under the ends of the toilet paper during the last few moments before guests arrive.

Candace and Charles Bushnell arrive first, with their Black Labrador Betsy, and will be hosted by the Crafty Beavers. Heather escorts them to their room, where Candace starts the obvious buffoonery by claiming that she can only sleep on her own sheets. Yet the sheets she hands to Heather are still in their original packaging from "Bitch, Bath, and Beyond". [C'mon producers! This is so fake!] Heather invites them outside for their welcome snack. Charles, sporting the latest fluorescent orange Euro-trash ‘Members Only' jacket, holds the dog leash, or is it his leash?

Back to the kitchen, where Darlene breathlessly asks Mitch, "What are we doing?" And he responds, "Not freaking out." Darlene barely manages to get her enormous platter of goodies out the door. Candace's second ridiculous "finicky guest" request is for boiled vegetables and some meat for the dog. Mitch takes one for team, and agrees to prepare some food the Bushnells' dog; since he is used to making roadkill possum, this should not be too much of a stretch. [I wonder whether this is really their dog, or if it was rented for the show.] Mitch retreats to the kitchen and muses about the real reason he has to cook for the dog. He thinks Candace hates his guts, and he refuses to kiss anybody's ass. [Excuse me? Isn't that exactly what you are doing in preparing this meal?] Candace and her husband like the food, but then complain that there is too much. [C'mon Candace. You know what to do. Eat, purge, repeat.]

Kimberly announces that they had to change guest rooms, because the sheets they brought were queen-sized and they were in a king-sized bedroom. Charles makes a face and shakes his head, as if this were tantamount to saying that the dog would have to be euthanized. Proving that whole sheet thing was contrived, they ask to keep the king-sized bedroom over using the special sheets. Candace mentions sotto voce that she feels like she is in ‘Fawlty Towers'.

David and Angie (the Fag-Hag) arrive and are greeted by Dawn and Denise at the front desk. Dawn, somehow forgetting that David is gay, offers a choice of two rooms with king-sized beds, or one room with a queen. David then asks for some ginger ale (no ice) to ease his tummyache. [Another obvious suggested request from the producers.] Dawn guides the guests upstairs and makes up some history details to make it seem like she knows what she's talking about. [I kept waiting for her to say that the inn was built on an Indian graveyard.] Margo finishes up the soup, so that the guests will get a hot snack. Margo claims that her home-made chicken noodle soup is "Fantastic" and hands the bowls to the guests as they sit in sidechairs. [Margo, you idiot! Don't serve soup unless the guests are at a table.] Immediately after Margo says the soup is warm, David complains that it is too cold, and makes a face. The soup is heated up, but the guests now complain that it is too bland. [Hey! I've read this story before. Try the third bowl; it will be "just right".] All the while, Denise tells the camera that Margo has a lot of confidence, but just can't cook worth a darn. Both guests put their soup bowls aside, preferring to remain hungry.

Bobby Flay arrives at 11:30 pm, when Amy is manning the front-desk. Bobby claims that he is starving, and he also asks for bourbon and ginger ale. Mitch and Darlene run to the kitchen to prepare a plate of food. Darlene waxes philosophical, and states that restaurants "re-plate" food all the time, to make it look more appealing. During this flurry of activity, however, the front-desk is left unmanned. [Cue the ominous music.] Bobby makes his way downstairs to wait for the food, while the phone rings on and on in the background. Candace is shown on the phone, waiting for someone to pick it up so she can make her next ridiculous request. Apparently the phone rings for 14 minutes before she gives up. On the other hand, Bobby really liked the food that Darlene cooked up; she impressed all of her team-mates as well.

In the middle of the night, most of the competitors are making their individual fruit wreath projects. Denise is shown bringing something to a guest room at 2:00 am, so the stupid requests appear to continue. Kimberly and Dawn giggle uncontrollably while Denise is trying to work. Denise says she just wants to be on a team that cares about what they do. Dawn tells Kimberly, "Remember you were talking about who you thought the weakest link was?" while making a head motion indicating she means Denise. Margo is making a wreath with citrus fruit (so that it smells good) and complains about how it hurts her hands, which are all cut up from working in the kitchen. The whole process is summed up by Dawn, who say, "After having my head in a toilet and my ass in the air all day, it's kinda hard to be inspired about making a fruit wreath." So she falls asleep next to her lime and tropical flower disaster. About 6:00, the phone rings again while Team Artisan in on-call. Dawn was sleeping again, so Denise takes the next guest request for coffee, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

The guest judges then inspect the rooms for cleanliness. Of course, they bring their white gloves to check for dust. [Doesn't everyone when they visit a B&B?] Team Artisan did a better job, since some hair and dust were found in the Beaver rooms. Then the race to create brunch occurred.

Heather wanted to make her classic Chicken Pot Pie, but didn't have any chicken broth or her usual vegetables. She had to use asparagus, broccoli, and potatoes. Team Artisan is making Sirloin Steaks with Eggs, Country-style Potatoes, Apple French Toast, and Mimosas made with bottled orange juice [Gasp! Not fresh, even with all that fruit around]. Mitch is making home-made Cinnamon Rolls from his grandmother's recipe, except "when she made them the fat jiggled beneath her arms." Kimberly wipes the plates saying, "When you remove the fingerprints you give a false sense of security that the plates are actually clean." Then the food begins.

The judges like the Beavers' breakfast drink, with freshly squeezed orange juice, as Darlene beams. They also enjoy Mitch's Cinnamon Rolls. However, Heather's Chicken Pot Pie is next. She says, "As long as it tastes as good as it looks, we're OK." [It did taste as good as it looks. Unfortunately, it didn't look that good.] Candace takes a few bites and says, "I can't do this one….It doesn't look like food to me." David complains there isn't enough seasoning.

The Artisan brunch starts with Margo singing "Good Morning". Kimberly shows up in sweats and a baseball cap and hoped that no one would notice. Dawn then brings out the Mimosas, which look a tad weak. David asks if they have freshly squeezed orange juice, and before Dawn can lie about it, Kimberly says that it does not. [Cue ominous music] None of the judges like it. Denise says that her Caramel Apple French Toast doesn't need any extra syrup, because there is plenty on the bottom. David immediately says it needs more syrup, and the others agree. The judges look for someone to ask for service, but no one is there. Bobby heads to the kitchen to get some syrup, and takes another of Mitch's Cinnamon Rolls while he is there.

Margo is working on the Steak and Eggs. When offered help, she says that she's got it handled. Bobby wanted his egg poached, Candace friend, and David scrambled. Once again, Margo is confident, but incompetent in the kitchen. Kimberly suggests adding a little vinegar to the water for poaching, but Margo says she has never used it before. [I assume because she has never poached an egg before.] Kimberly allows Margo to self-destruct rather than waste any more time on the issue. The fried egg has problems too, with Margo going through eight attempts before Denise finally finishes the fried egg off in the microwave. [WTF!] Candace takes one bite and says, "My egg is inedible." Bobby asks Margo how she poached his egg. She starts to answer, but then says that she is a nervous wreck. Bobby then suggests they all go the kitchen where he will show them how to make poached eggs. Kimberly smiles smugly the whole way.

The Flay method of poaching eggs:
1) Crack an egg into a ramekin, so you can throw it out if you happen to break the yolk
2) Add a little vinegar to your hot water
3) Slowly add your egg to the water
4) Remove your denatured aborted chicken fetus with a slotted spoon [Oops, I guess I was confusing Bobby with the freaky city girl from "Amish in the City".]

Margo gets teary-eyed in the hallway, and blames her faults on being a single mother doing the best she can. [The world's smallest violin is playing in the background.]

Judging Time Again: Candace walks in wearing spotted pants from the skins of two different dead animals. Joan is even more hideous, channeling Krystal Carrington in a black taffeta skirt and patterned boots. Candace compliments Dawn's hostess skills, not knowing that she probably invented most of what she told them about the history of the inn. Bobby back-handedly compliments Margo on her high spirits, even if she is a cry-baby. David is upset that Kimberly wore sweats when serving brunch. Bobby mentions that the lack of service was a problem for him, and Denise stupidly tries to defend the team's inaccessibility as trying to avoid being in their faces. Candace reminds them about the fried egg disaster, and Margo claims it must have been the pan. Bobby appreciated that Amy was able to find him some bourbon. Candace tries to shame the Beavers about the sheet incident, apparently suggesting that they had to ask the guests beforehand about possibly changing rooms [talk about a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation]. Heather logically retorts that the guests seemed so intent on using their own sheets, that she had to make the assumption that a change of rooms would be alright; and if not, then they could always change things back. Candace then asks about the unanswered phone in the middle of the night, and none of the Beavers knew this had even happened. David mentioned that the Chicken Pot Pie wasn't tasty. Heather suggested that she didn't have her normal ingredients. Bobby reminded them all to flavor their foods rather than risk blandness. When the teams briefly leave, the judges make several inane comments that we have heard already.

David announces that the Crafty Beavers won. Darlene holds her hand over her chest as if she is having trouble breathing. So now to judge the individual projects.

Candace thinks Denise's wreath looks like it should be surrounding a smoked salmon. David likes Dawn's square wreath with limes and tropical spiky flowers. Candace thinks Margo's citrus wreath looks like a lei, but is so heavy that you would fall over if you wore it. [Actually, Candace couldn't come up with the word "lei", nor the word "hula", and had to act them out.] Kimberly's frame-like wreath was dubbed "unwieldy". Candace tells the team that the judges were disappointed with all of the individual projects. They chose Denise's and Margo's as the worst of the lot.

Margo cries again for the camera. She says that she has shown the most passion and enthusiasm among the contestants. She complains that she put several things "on hold" so that she could compete. [Newsflash: the other contestants did too, Margo] Denise also bitches that either Kimberly or Dawn should go next. She worked hard on the team project, and her individual project probably suffered because of that. Dawn mentions that she and Kimberly think a lot alike. [If this is true, Kimberly, please see a psychiatrist immediately.]

The Rock Garden: [Do we really need to do this? Isn't it obvious that Margo is getting booted?] Denise is very upbeat in her speech, and asks if she can stay. Margo says that she wants to stay and wants to win. Kimberly says it's all about character, and she is voting the person who has lost her trust: Margo. Dawn votes for Margo, because she can be hard to work with.

As the credits roll, Margo concludes with, "I was true to myself. I showed myself to be an articulate, creative, respectable woman. I'm able to admit I wasn't able to poach an egg today….I lost nothing." [Well, I guess that's true up until the last sentence.]

Here's a link to Margo's instructions for making poached eggs (inspired by Bobby Flay). Next week: It's remodeling time! Mitch steals the Beaver spotlight again. Bad choices leave Team Artisan in a time-crunch.

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