NEW YORK — Tom Ford knew he and Martha Stewart would hit it off when the domestic diva told the designer that she paints the soles of her Louboutins black because she doesn’t like red.

“I was so glad to know I’m not the only sick person — I get so much crap for painting my tractor,” Ford said backstage Tuesday at “The Martha Stewart Show,” sipping his second Diet Coke of the day moments after his live debut. “It was sort of a bonding of perfectionists.”

Twenty minutes earlier, the pair stood behind the set’s kitchen counter, Stewart clad in a Hermès button-down and cardigan, Ralph Lauren jeans and said Christian Louboutin platforms, and Ford in a black suit, signature unbuttoned shirt and white pocket square. As they flipped through the New York Post (the paper ran of photograph of Brad Pitt wearing a Tom Ford tuxedo Monday night at the Cannes Film Festival), they chummed it up for the audience.

Stewart: “How do you keep your shirts so crisp?”

Ford: “Well, I send them to be laundered.”

Stewart: “I found your store to be a little bit intimidating.”

Ford: “Really? It seems quite like home

to me.”

Stewart: “Tom, everybody wants you.”

Ford: “No, Martha, everybody wants you.”

America was then given a glimpse of Ford’s new luxury men’s wear collection, from a classic tuxedo paired with “velvet pumps” to a peaked lapel jacket worn over a double-Windsor knotted tie in an oversize houndstooth print. “Show them your socks,” Ford instructed one model.

“What about your underwear? Can you show us those?” Stewart quipped.

“I don’t think you want to see them, but I bet they’re Tom Ford, too,” the designer said.

Fashion aside, it’s the cooking that really gets the Stewart crowd revved up, and Tuesday’s cuisine du jour was pecan pralines. Ford said the recipe goes back to his great-grandmother on his mother’s side.

“I was very interested in food as a kid, but I was partial to things I could decorate,” he said, stirring butter into the pecan-sugar concoction. “My mother always made these on holidays, but they are a little bit fattening.”

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Although his whisking technique was indeed convincing, chances are slim that Ford whips up the confections at home, right? “I actually just made them this weekend to make sure I wasn’t going to screw up today,” he later said backstage. “If you cook them too little, they turn all sugary and fall apart.”

The trick to avoiding such a catastrophe is a candy thermometer (see recipe, above). And yes, Ford says his London kitchen is equipped with just that device. “But we don’t make pralines except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are certain things I can’t be around: these, pecan pie and key lime pie. I just can’t have them in the house.”

After the show, Stewart said Ford’s kitchen skills passed her test. In fact, she even said his recipe is the closest she’s come to a New Orleans version that she tried years ago. So just how many pralines did Stewart eat? “I had a half of one,” she said, chuckling.

As for Ford, he only ate two, but last WWD saw him he was in his dressing room with a plateful of the morsels nearby. Said the designer, “They make a great breakfast with a Diet Coke.”

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