Romance Helps You Plan Brunch for 12

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Chick alert! For those of you whose idea of a formal meal
is to actually pull the KFC out of the bucket and put it onto a plate before serving,
Romance Classics presents Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie, which will introduce
you to how the other half lives.

The mellifluous South African native dares walk where
Martha Stewart has already tread, but he does it so sincerely that you actually begin to
believe that you can plan a casual brunch for 12 that will be stylish, yet enjoyable for
the host.

Cowie's well-known on the talk-show and party-planning
circuit as the ringmaster of several luxe celebrity weddings on both coasts that were
shepherded by his business, Colin Cowie Lifestyle. In his half-hour series, he ups the
class factor on everything from the aforementioned brunch to formal anniversary-dinner
parties. It will be a great dessert for anything that you might see on Food Network --
there, it's content; here, the focus is presentation. (If you really insist on
recipes, they're available on www.romanceclassics.com.)

You're seduced by the kicky, retro '60s opening,
and you then find yourself giggling over the faux casual meetings with clients. It's
sort of, "Let's have a party -- you give me the theme colors, and I'll go
crazy." Don't get me wrong: The episodes are intelligently organized and
enjoyable. They cover everything from fixing on a theme or context, tom designing the
menu, to shopping, to food preparation, to styling. During preparations for the formal
dinner, I got sweaty just trying to figure out how one would graciously attack the salad
-- an endive tied into a torpedo shape, with its salad hidden inside. Later, I got the
answer -- make sure that the party-planner eats with you, and make him eat it first.

I guess I just don't hit this party-giving
demographic. Colin: Try going glam with some franks and beans and my everyday Corelle
ware, and then we'll talk. I also need tips on how you feed brioche topped with
poached eggs, tomatoes and onion to children, without them shrieking ,"Ee-e-wwwh! I
am not eating this!"

But even the most doltish hostess can come away with some
ideas that will at least improve the sophistication of her parties, even if few can
replicate the plates being color-coordinated to the napkins and the Beluga caviar. Adding
color to the centerpiece at a casual brunch by putting uncut lemons in the vase beneath
the flowers -- now that I can do.

Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie debuts on Romance
Classics July 23 at 8 p.m. (EST).

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