Photos by Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show

Martha actually laughs! I was on The Martha Stewart Show, taped Monday in front of a crazily exuberant audience, on behalf of the new book, Twenty, and I saw it myself. Lord knows what we were laughing about. I haven’t a clue. You go kind of senseless when you’re not in front of Martha every day and there she is—felt exactly like jumping out of an airplane for the first time. But one of the things I’ve always admired about her show is there’s none of that forced cheer and goofy laughter. So when she laughs it’s real and affecting.

I’ve done my share of TV but have never, ever been nervous. I was so nervous that morning. I brought three shirts and a valium. When I walked into the studio, Martha was in her office with a trainer doing stretching exercises or yoga. She’d already taped one show and it was not yet noon. I was shown to one of a few green rooms, given some water and a fruit plate. I posted some tweets. There’s a sign on the wall asking you to do so. I had a handler named Kyle who told me to relax, and did nothing but smile at me. My shirts were returned pressed. Courtney Knapp, a former manhattan cook (for Mario and others I believe she said) was the producer of my segments. She brought me into the kitchen to check progress of my dishes. Nikki Elkins had onions in all stages, for the onion soup, sliced, partially cooked, and two batches of fully caramelized onions.

She had issues with the quantities in my book. I told her the onions in the Midwest were bigger than their wimpy Manhattan onions. She begged to differ. She said they’d used 65 pounds of onions for all the swap outs. I didn’t argue with her cooking—it was perfect. Sarah Mastracco, who cured my salmon and readied the mise for it for the show, had also nailed it. They are seriously good cooks in that kitchen. I confessed to everyone I saw that I was incredibly nervous. Courtney said she’s been on the show and that she sometimes has a glass of champagne before she goes on. Damned sporting and civilized that idea, but I confessed to requiring something stronger.

Courtney lead me through all the blocking for each dish, what would happen, what I was going to say about each dish, how we would move, what Martha would do. I was told to talk with Martha, not to the audience (which is hard because how do you tell Martha anything about cooking?). We moved on to the second key ingredient, onion. Did the same thing.

I got hair and makeup done. I met the other guest, the formidable Grace Bonney of the Design Sponge blog. At least I think it was her. I was too nervous to absorb information.

What struck me most about all this? How incredibly organized and professional everyone was. Everyone was just so on their game. Thank you, all.

But I was still nervous. Kyle brought me back to the green room. We passed Martha’s office; she appeared to speaking into a microphone with two other people (radio?). How does she do it? And look at her, the woman looks good. She’s Martha. And I’m here to tell you, she’s a genuine badass business woman and television educator.

We arrived at the green room where three fingers of straight bourbon waited. It was ten minutes before show time. Kyle suggested I step in and “refresh” myself. Which I did.

And before I knew it, there I was, talking salt with Martha Stewart, curing salmon, making onion soup. She said, “I love this book,” when she introduced my book. But she didn’t just say it like that. She said, “I luuuv this book.”  The heart leaps. “It’s really helpful.” Leaps. She loves our wooden spoons and offset spoons!

Here’s another cool thing about doing a show with Martha. You learn things. She showed me a way to zest fruit I hadn’t thought of. She showed me a cool way to slice the salmon Sarah had cured. I ended up having a really good time, though I still have no recollection of what I said. Courtney assured me I hadn’t made an ass of myself.

And I walked out of the studio into the gorgeous autumn New York City day.

Me, Martha, The Book, and French Onion Soup

Ok, I’m going to say something now that never, not in a million years, would I ever, ever have thought I’d say, never in my life, but it’s true:

I have a serious crush on Martha Stewart.

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© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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55 Wonderful responses to “The Martha Stewart Show”

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips

    Fantastic post! Love it! Love love LOVE it!!

    I am a huge Martha “fan” (I hate that F word) but I think she is just the bee’s knees. When I “grow up” to want to be a cross between her and Marry Poppins. I confess, I’ve loved her since I was young. I have MS Living and Wedding issues from 15 years ago…. it’s a good thing :-) (seriously, there’s great ideas, recipes, and cakes in there!)

    I can’t wait to get home and see the episode, which my TV delightfully DVR’d for me :-)

    So glad you ha a great time. And here’s to hopefully many more appearances on her show!!!

  • devlyn

    That’s so way cool. I haven’t seen the Martha Stewart show in years, mostly because I don’t have a tv, but I would love to see this episode. Do you know if it will be available online anywhere?

  • Barbara | Creative Culinary

    You did a great job and I’m surprised to hear you were so nervous. For me? Swap out every single time you mention Martha and put in your name; imagine that I am you. Then we would be equal; including the crush business. :)

  • Barbara

    It was a great show, Michael! And i too learned a new way to slice salmon from Martha. Further to our conversation with Marlene the other evening, I confess, I am now a Martha convert.

  • Anne B.

    Loved the show today….no one appeared nervous! Also love that I learned several things I did not know!

    • ruhlman

      watch segment tomorrow at one on hallmark channel or later on line. martha basically does it upside down so that the zest collects on the zester, moving zester back and forth over fruit rather than fruit rubbed over zester.

  • Bellini

    I’ve always been a Martha Stewart fan. That woman works hard and I can only admire and respect her for it. Maybe there’s clip of the episode on Youtube?

  • Victoria

    You did get the great weather here. Even today when it’s supposed the rain, the sky is blue, and it is WARM.

    I luuuv the book too. I have the hard copy but am considering the e-book for my iPad. Are you happy with the way it turned out?

  • Carri

    I just finished watching the show…really great job, Michael! It looks like the bourbon, or whatever you did worked. It was relaxed and fun. Your book is going to take off for the holidays…so happy for you!

  • Melissa D

    I haven’t watched the episode yet, but you look great! I look forward to it!

    I was invited to a taping of her show last spring and was simply amazed. Naturally, she and her crew have talent and efficiency down pat. The entire set was redecorated for the next taping ten minutes after the first taping ended. The glassed-in kitchen was buzzing. As soon as credits rolled Martha sailed effortlessly through taping several promo spots and then breezed over to meet us.
    The most impressive part was the warmth that shone through from everyone on the staff. Also, Martha is even prettier in person. I don’t blame you for your crush one bit!

    • Michael Ruhlman

      curious to know what attracted them to you, what was the show on?

      totally agree, the whole staff was beyond awesome

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    Serious Crush…uhhh ya think?!! Donna don’t let him go on these trips alone….especially Martha…I understand she likes ‘toy boys’…:)) How come you never make it to a Montreal book signing?

  • Victoria

    Ok, Michael. I just downloaded the e-book. Will let you know how I like it after I check it out on my iPad tonight! I will compare it to my hard copy and let you know what I think about the comparison.

  • Brad McNeal

    Michael, I’ll be the next male to cop to a Martha crush, going waaaayyy back b4 the b.s. legal stuff she had. Funny..not one male besides me (so far) has blogged in..man up men !
    Great job, as always.

  • Jane Ridolfi

    Michael, I’ve see people use the zester that way with parmigiano cheese….

  • Janet Nelson

    Martha was the only network TV I ever let my kid watch when she had a sick day!

  • g.

    I saw this segment and thought you did a fantastic job, Michael!! I think Martha has a crush on you. :)

  • tm

    I was part of the audience and really enjoyed your segment. I love going to The Martha Stewart Show and have been in the audience a number of times. Her tip on using the microplane is great! Been doing that for a while. Thanks for handing out your book. I’m really enjoying it and the recipes look great.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      that is so cool to hear from someone in the audience. my daughter watched with me tonight and said, “Dad, you’re never shutting up.” Sorry if i talked to much. I get excited.

  • Madonna

    I love Martha. I have never understood why people are not willing to take the good she is offering and let the rest fall away. If you think it is too exacting, or fussy, or whatever just let it go. But, I have to say, I never watch her that I don’t learn something from her. I admire you for bravely admitting to being nervous. Many people just talk mean about her to cover up their intimidation. Now you can say to people “You can’t scare me. I was on Martha Stewart’s Show”. Oh, what a memory.

  • claudia

    I agree with martha. I luuv this book too which is still parked on my night table. this is the book that will make you a better cook. and then there’s those beautiful photos.

    anyway, that aside, I’ve always respected martha because I know she knows – and she gets the best guests. hands down.

  • allen

    I caught the show this morning and you looked great, next time kick her butt with the microplane by moving it pole to pole on the citrus, thinking of the stem end as a pole and dragging the citrus over the stationary microplane. You get no pith, which she was getting by massaging the citrus with back and forth motion and it’s much faster and much more control.

  • KsGal

    Michael, I think you did a fantastic job of explaining how you do things and not feel that you had to do it Martha’s way. I’m glad you learned how to zest “upside down” – she taught me that too. BUT when you put your tasting spoon into the soup pot after tasting TWICE I was grossed out. It always makes me wonder if that’s how a chef operates in their restaurant kitchen.

    • ruhlman

      americans are too afraid of germs. in this case, double dipping as it’s called is not a health issue since the soup will be fully cooked. I would never do that to you at the table. unless you were donna, of course.

  • Gina Wilson

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Marthat segment. Thank you so much for talking about toolst that the home cook can use and for making economical dishes.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Thanks for telling us about the re-airing of the show on Hallmark. I was home taking a vacation day today, and I was able to watch the segment. Great job. She stepped on your words a few times, wish she hadn’t done that. It’s cool that doing the segment was a thrilling adventure for you.

  • Renaccio

    Loved you on the Martha show. Well, love you anyway. Twenty is a WONDERFUL book. Knew somebody would notice the tasting spoon. But hey, that’s what you do at home. I honestly think people over react to the whole tasting spoon back in the pot routine. I find it much less offensive than certain things one must do in an airport bathroom. Nuff said.

  • Toni Romero

    Michael – you were absolutely wonderful and because of your appearance, I am now a fan of yours and your blog. You have a new follower in me.

  • Mage Bailey

    I’m a serious fan of your work, and I’ sad the link to the onion soup went no-where. Then again, perhaps there was such a crush of readers the link couldn’t work. :)

  • allen

    I shed a tear for that hard worker that sliced all of the onions, I hope she was wearing some swim goggles!

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    i was once in audience for taping of Oprah Show and sister egged me to ask question..did..on tv..never watched oprah again bcause the entire show was staged even to where people in audience sat who were placed there frum green room i saw that first hand. remenber everything she wore was died one color incl nylons she was fat but had an aura about her of absolute unique warmth and she’s a close talker….my 10 min of fame doesn’t compare to Martha Stewart whose DIY designs are all over my house

  • Culinary

    And who doesn’t have a crush on Martha Stewart? Every American woman wants to be her and every real American man wants to get her in his kitchen! haha

  • TheFromagette

    I just happened onto the show – so glad I caught it!! You are adorable and seemed totally at ease – I remember thinking you had a lovely disposition. I can assure you – there was no visible sign of sweat OR the drinking/drugging that was necessitated – hahaha. I love Ratio and can’t wait to get Twenty!!

  • Carolyn Z

    You’re improving well with age. Each appearance seems better. (Bourbon notwithstanding.) It was a lot of fun as well! Congrats on Twenty to you and Donna.

  • Belina G

    I’ve been a Martha Stewart “fan” for a long, long time and have seen the amazing results from some of her books. She taught me so many things and I think she’s amazing! Seriously food, serious recipes, amazing results in many areas too. I’m glad you enjoyed being on her show…. Let’s hear it for both of you, YAY!

  • Swain

    So, it was great couple of segments but I have to ask, WHY?

    Why did you use your tasting spoon and placed it back in the soup and stir…..TWICE? Really? You would have nailed a chef on any of those cooking competition shows for doing such things. I know it was a TV food swap out segment, but doesn’t matter. Not a good cooking habbit.

    ====SWAIN::;——–

  • Lucy

    Great post–love your recap of the show and your experience. And I love that they brought you bourbon! How cool is that! I hope to find this segment online so I can watch. Have always admired Martha and glad she is back on top.

    • allen

      I move the citrus over the microplane, pole to pole. It’s faster, no pith and more control. Takes a bit of practice but you will eat your lame ass words and pith in the mean time.

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