Martha Stewart Looks to Complete Comeback

How Can a Teacher Be Too Perfect?

Of course, Martha Stewart is involved in each product and every deal. Though she dismisses the notion that there wouldn't be a company without her.

"Oh, no, no, that's not true at all," she said. "That is not true at all... We now... own Emeril. Emeril Lagasse. A very strong brand. Emeril is working again as hard as I am, as far as I know, to create complementary product.

But in her heart of hearts, does she believe that if she got hit by a bus tomorrow the company could go on without her?

"Yes, it would. Definitely," she said. "But I'm not gonna get hit by a bus tomorrow... I've already been hit by the bus. Once is enough!"

The bus may have bruised her, but it did not change her in a fundamental way. She remains ever the exacting, impossibly perfect homemaker. This fall on her television show she explained to viewers how she collects the pink gravel from her mile-long driveway in Maine every winter, and stores it for the next year so it doesn't get muddy.

"That beautiful gravel -- expensive gravel I might add -- would disappear in to the Maine mud," she said. "That's a Maine tradition." It is clear she sees herself as a trustee of what is beautiful and refuses to compromise her vision.

It's that kind of over-the top perfectionism that makes Stewart's fans adore her and her critics go crazy -- a criticism, by the way, she doesn't understand.

"Well, how can a teacher be too perfect?" she said. "Oh, I've just -- I can't even -- if I had a teacher who was imperfect, or couldn't speak French when they were a French teacher, or mispronounced things, or -- spoke bad grammar if she were teaching, or he were teaching English, that would not have been a good thing."

Rachael Ray: 'That's Not Good Enough for Me'

This approach to homemaking -- cooking in particular -- lies in stark contrast to a rival domestic diva, Rachael Ray, whose style is far more laid-back. The two appeared on each other's programs recently, and Stewart doesn't mince words when it comes to Ray's cooking skills.

"Well, to me, she professed that she could -- cannot bake," said Stewart. "She -- just did a new cookbook which is just a re-edit of a lot of her old recipes. She -- and that's not good enough for me. I mean, I really want to write a book that is a unique and lasting thing. Something that will really fulfill a need in someone's library. So, she's different. She's -- she's more of an entertainer than she is, with her bubbly personality, than she is a teacher, like me. That's not what she's professing to be."

We asked Rachael Ray for her reaction to Stewart's comments. Does it make her mad?

"Why would it make me mad?" said Ray. "Her skill set is far beyond mine. That's simply the reality of it. That doesn't mean that what I do isn't important too... I don't consider it needling. I really just think she's being honest. She does have a better skill set than I do when it comes to producing a beautiful, perfect, high-quality meal. I'd rather eat Martha's than mine, too."

And that is part of what Martha Stewart still has going for her. She is, even in the eyes of her competitors, the queen. And yet she is a queen who cannot officially rule her own company -- not until 2011, anyway, per an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission stemming from her conviction.

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