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Originally published Sunday, February 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Packing away the sash — and, now, the grub

The reigning Miss Washington has returned from the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas — "I'm Elyse Umemoto. How do you like them apples...

Seattle Times columnist

The reigning Miss Washington has returned from the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas — "I'm Elyse Umemoto. How do you like them apples?" — where she almost won. We like her, and here's why: Now that this beauty queen is back in Tacoma, her main priority is: Eat.

"There's a half-filled box of doughnuts in my kitchen. The chocolate sprinkle ones went first," said Elyse, 23, who was crowned second runner-up. "I was training so hard for what seemed like an eternity, and I could not wait to come home and have a chocolate doughnut."

The self-professed "coffee and Diet Coke fanatic" adhered to a strict diet in the months before the pageant, eschewing caffeine, flour, dairy and sodium. Honestly, someone should give her a crown just for that.

Now that she's home and has satisfied her cravings for Buffalo wings, lattes and lasagna, she's turning her attention to the 500 e-mails and 200 Facebook friend requests she received in the 10 days she was in Las Vegas. At least a few inquiries are on the subject of apples. Her recommendation: Golden Delicious. ...

THE STAR OF THE SHOW is Broadway veteran Dee Hoty, but might she be upstaged by her own wardrobe? The glamorous title character in the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of "Mame" has more costume changes than Beyoncé, but the showstopper comes at the end of Act Two in an elaborate gown by Seattle designer Luly Yang. The kimono-inspired red silk satin robe has metallic organza sleeves and thousands of Swarovski crystals, and took a dozen seamstresses hundreds of hours to make. The gown is for sale for $30,000, though where would one wear such a thing? "To a very, very elaborate party," muses the designer, "probably not in Seattle." ...

OPRAH'S DESIGN GURU Nate Berkus just left town after a month's stay, leaving hearts fluttering in his wake. Employees at the downtown Barneys store swooned when he stopped in — put him in the Valentine's Day window! — and he was a frequent visitor to the spa at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland. Another reader spotted him dining in the bar at Sonrisa Mexican restaurant at University Village, reportedly looking "adorable and exactly as he does on the show." Berkus just finished a project in Kirkland; watch for an Oprah segment to air this month. ...

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: National Pancake Day on Feb. 5 was pre-empted, so to speak, by the presidential primaries, so IHOP restaurants are offering guests a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to belatedly mark the occasion on Tuesday. This an actual holiday — not made up by IHOP — celebrated for centuries in England to mark the beginning of Lent. Here, we call it "Fat Tuesday," because we're just not as polite as the British. ...

MY YUMMY VALENTINE: Seattle-based Pagliacci Pizza (www.pagliacci.com) is offering free artichoke hearts as a topping on Valentine's Day. In related news: Your Valentine is a cheapskate.

Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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