In Aarti’s Own Words: Macarena, Anyone?

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 16, 2010

Next Food Network Star Aarti Sequeira

Where am I? What time is it? Who am I?

All these thoughts are running through my mind this morning.
Oh yeah.


I've never been able to do a cartwheel or else I'd do one right now. Would you take a round of the Macarena instead?


Oh, ok.

To think, on day one, that I served raw chicken. Raw. To Bobby Flay. I remember thinking, I'm going home. I can't believe I'm going home already. My friends and family will be so disappointed in me.

Oh, and that budget-friendly, tastebud-unfriendly egg curry I served at the swanky Sinatra estate. I'm sure Frank was rolling his twinkly blues that night.

And of course, that monkey that sat on my back from day one, whispering, "You're no good. And it's only a matter of time before they figure it out." I know that it was frustrating for you guys to watch me collapse time and time again. I know, because it was beyond frustrating for me! I don't know why, but I never saw myself the way the committee, the house, or you guys saw me, even though I'd won more challenges than anyone else at the house. It wasn't until Bob Tuschman called me a "former frontrunner" in episode 5 that I realized who I was, or had been.

That's why this victory is so powerful, so meaningful. I can shove this metaphorical crown in that evil monkey's face (I think of the monkey from Family Guy gritting his teeth and pointing!): "See? I AM good!" This is proof to myself that I do have a purpose, that my life does have meaning. When I doubt my creativity, I'll remember that Turk-Eye Meatloaf or the Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Kebabs that impressed the Obi-Wan of the cooking world, Chef Jonathan Waxman. When I doubt my energy or my strength, I'll remember sleeping four hours before prepping, cooking and serving on the cramped, smoky food truck for six hours ... or going straight from a long day at the supper club into a late-night evaluation. When I don't think my food is fancy enough or good enough for the most discerning taste buds, I'll remember how I killed it on the Iron Chef Challenge, how my culinary superhero, Chef Morimoto, loved my food. I mean, I did an Iron Chef battle, people. Not only did one. Won it (not against an Iron Chef, but... well, not YET!). How many people can say that?!

And so, to that monkey I say, "Adieu and thank you. I'm sure you had a purpose in my life, but I'm done with you now, and I never want to see you again." For any of you struggling with the same monkey, know that you don't have to carry him around forever. To my fellow contestants, especially my brothers from another mother, Tom and Herb: Thank you so much. To stand up there with you two was an honor and a blessing. I learned something from all of you, whether it was how to be strong in the face of adversity (Brianna), or how to coat your chicken wings in mustard to make them extra crispy (DAS!). Thank you to the selection committee for your patience with me, for all the therapy during evaluation (!), and for giving me another chance to lift my head up with pride. To all the producers, crew, culinary crew: we all saw how hard you guys worked even when you were more tired than we were. Thank you. And to you, out there in TV-terra: Your constant messages of support and encouragement were like a chorus of angels willing us forward. Thank you. And I hope you stay for the next chapter in this crazy story! And finally, I hope you'll allow me one final shout-out to God: Father, You know I'm nothing without You. Thank you so much! AMEN! Selah!


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  3. kim says:

    Cheers and congratulations to Aarti for being crowned The Next Food Network Star! I thought Aarti was a delight to watch and I think the concept will be a great addition to the programming line up. I have always enjoyed eating Indian food however I always get frustrated trying to recreate a dish in my own kitchen. I am looking forward to tuning into Aarti Parti and learning new skills and techniques.

    • Kim says:

      i think Aarti was the perfect choice for the job. I will miss seeing Tom and Herb every week and know that they will both flourish from this experience. I would've loved to have seen any of them win but I actually shrieked with delight scaring the dogs off the bed when i saw Aarti's shining face on that wall last night. I can't wait til next Sunday to see Aarti Party for the first time.

    • chpwldmn says:

      I so agree with Kim. Aarty has produced more excellent recipes than anyone else. At least I have printed out more of her cuisine than anyone else's. I am looking forward to catching her show. I just hope it is not too early on Sunday.

    • Chuck says:

      Besides the Food Network can now add a whole new line of Indian-related spices, condiments, etc. to its products for sale. More importantly though, clearly the best chef won the competition. Her food was consistently the best and most imaginative.

    • TylerEOT says:

      I think Aarti is a joy to watch. She understands the alchemy of Indian cuisine, and how to demystify it. I'd watch her over Rachel Ray any day of the week. Congratulations, Aarti, and good luck!

    • diane lopes says:

      good to see the food network bring in/have more international cuisine . i am always interested in learning about how to cook strange ingredients i find in the supermarket or speciality markets in tucson.

    • drew2517 says:

      I too congratulate Aarti. She won my heart with her cheerful attitude and her faith. I understand that monkey that keeps saying "You are not good enough!" I am so thankful that you were able to overcome that guy and am looking forward to watching you on Food Network.

  4. chris says:

    Frankly, I think Foodnetwork was looking for a person who could offer a different cuisine and Aarti happened to be that person.. I agree, she does not have the stage presence as Herb.. He exudes energy- but Food Network doesn't need another Latin food segment... They have had them in the past...

    • Jackie says:

      Shaas you... The commitee did the best choice..... Go AARTI!!! She"s the Best!!

    • goodlawd says:

      Indian food is not LAtin food...

    • Jan says:

      I think Aarti totally deserved to win. Her personality was genuine and upbeat and it is a great alternative to the current food network stars. Herb was good but really never got me excited about his presentation until the end. Aarti was consistently better and warm. Can't wait to watch her show.

    • Lidia says:

      I've been on vacation and just came back. I woke up this morning to discover that Aarti won! I can't believe it. Herb had so much persoanllity and made me want to make his dishes. I couldn't wait to see him cook! I'm SO DISAPPOINTED! Aarti does nothing for me. She doesn't make me want to watch her. Bring back HERB his the real star!

  5. Lily says:

    Great job Aarti! Can't wait to see your new show :) Bring it girl!

    • Jenny says:


  6. Rebecca27 says:

    Congrats, Aarti! I am so thrilled for you!

  7. Jennifer says:

    So glad Aarti won! Loved you from the beginning.. I am definately tuning in :)

  8. kleewong says:

    I'm so pleased that Aarti won. She had the most food successes and her personality on camera was stellar from the get go. Congrats!

    • annie says:

      yes, I agree...........Aarti has a great personality.
      She's so cheery. I always wanted to learn more indian foods,....she is exactly the one to teach it. looking forward to all the receipies. can you give ideas to make them sugar free, please... thanks. You are a natural star! Congrats Aarti!

    • Linda DeLia says:

      Just watched her first show. FANTASTIC! My husband and I both watched every minute with great pleasure. Sje is a dream on camera, and I learned a lot (Earl Gray tea and cardamom infused for pistascio "creamsicles" -- brilliant! )Here in western PA we eat a lot of sloppy joes -- now for Sloppy Bombay joes! And I'll definitely try the massaged kale/mango salad. I'm 65, and I love her youth, beauty, accent, sense of fun, exotic/down-to-earth presence. You GO, girl!!! Nobody else could have engaged me as Aarti did just now.

    • revksbe says:

      Great going and you were fantastic on your new show...the pumpkin oatmeal was a great hit ! I swapped added a tad more cinnamon, currants, and pecans...and because we serve oatmeal with milk...took the milk, put it in the magic bullet and made a very light whipped cream to serve on top...Keep tweaking are doing great!

  9. nicole says:

    Great job Aarti I am sure your show will rule i will watch it but i still would've liked for Brad to win!!!

    • carlos says:

      i agree with u he was so cool

    • Jazzy says:

      Brad was a good chef but his presentations werent always as good as Aarti's. She seemed more comfortable in front of the cameras, unlike Brad, sho was nervous and stiff.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brad obviously had the most experience with cooking, but he didn't have the same camera talent as Aarti, although I am still shocked that the Selection Committee dumped him.

      • Silvia says:

        The one whose cooking chops are (IMO) at the very top of this year's list are Brianna's. Tom could have run away with the Iron Chef thing had he utilized her talents the way Aarti used Brad's...instead of coming up with bacon steak, bacon cake and french #$%&ing toast with #$%&ing CLAMS! (Think about it...had Tom not taken three what-planet-are-you-from-? risks we might be dealing with a completely different set of haters today.)

  10. Nicole Burley, M.Ed. says:

    Aarti! I was rooting for you from the beginning! You are gracious and kind and warm. So thrilled for you and your success and I will be watching! And kudos to Herb and Tom for doing as well as they did, too. I wish they could have taken all three of you - but I'm glad that you won!
    Best wishes from a fellow NU alum -