Aarti’s After Party: Go Bold or Go Home

by in Food Network Star, May 27, 2012

Aarti Sequeira won Food Network Star season 6 and expanded her popular blog into a cooking show, Aarti Party (catch it on Food Network, Sundays at 7:30am/6:30c). As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Aarti shares her insider’s take on what went down each week.

When I asked you guys what you thought of this new format a couple of weeks ago, some of you opined that it allowed the “weaker” contestants to hide behind the “stronger” ones. Well, this was the week for you.

For the first time, instead of competing as teams, it was every man for him (or her) self. And judging by the contestants’ performance this week, this paradigm shift did a number on them. Until now, these folks were teammates, brothers-in-arms if you will, cheering each other across the finish line, consoling one another when a fellow soldier didn’t think he or she could make it. In a blink of any eye, the brothers-in-arms were forced to opposite sides of the battlefield.

No wonder so many faltered. I was shocked at the ripple of insecurity toppling many of the Goliaths in this pack: Martita’s characteristic fieriness diminished to a very polite flicker. Emily’s Zooey Deschanel-like quirkiness lacked pop. And Martie? Oh how my heart broke for her, as we watched her insecurities threaten to drown her Southern charm.

Ah, but the intrigue! Others, whose quiet presence I had perhaps mistaken for weakness, took long strides to the front of the pack, making me wonder how I had overlooked them in the first place. Linkie positively shone, with a one-two punch of pitch-perfect delivery and food. Eric, whose resolve to make practically everything from scratch has left me both awe-inspired and nursing an ulcer as the clock ticks away, was elegance personified, both in presentation and on the plate. Hey, when Alex Guarnaschelli tells you she wants to lick your plate clean, that is high praise indeed.

I tried to remember what it is like three weeks into the competition. The novelty of it all is starting to wear off. You’re tired. You are really starting to miss your family. But you’re also starting to forget what “normal” life is like; I mean, the only reason you wake up in the morning is to compete in yet another challenge or face a heart-pounding evaluation. You don’t know how long your day is going to go or what it’s going to consist of. Your emotions are all over the place (not to mention your digestive system!), and you have very little idea what’s going on outside of this Food Network world because you’re quarantined from the Internet, TV and newspapers. What or who is important starts to shift without you even knowing it. Living under a microscope starts to take its toll — paralysis by self-analysis. No wonder your confidence feels wobbly.

Having dealt with confidence issues all the way through Food Network Star, I get it. When Bob told Yvan that, rather than give in to being overwhelmed by the panel of culinary greats seated before him (Scott Conant, Alex, Marc Murphy, the mentors and the Network), he had to feel like he was equal to them, I smiled. He had said the same thing to me. It felt like an impossible switch to make in my mind, or at least impossible in the few weeks we had ahead of us.

Some of you may not relate to Martie’s insecurity about her age, but don’t we all have something we’re insecure about? That one thing that we think, well, if I just had that taken care of, then I’d be all set and I’d really soar? When our head is on straight, we know it isn’t true. But after three weeks of competing, taking harsh judgment and feeling your emotions tugged in all sorts of directions? Those insecurities suddenly seem to have a much larger hold on you. I think this is something we can all relate to, whether you’re competing on one of the biggest cooking competitions on American television or slugging away at your career, your college degree, raising your children, living your life, chasing your dreams, whatever.

So what’s the answer? Ultimately, the very thing that Susie and Bob were asking of the contestants: Be bold. When you start to quiver in your boots, you’re saying, "Hey, I don’t think this is a good idea, either." I believe in destiny, in my Maker having written the plan already. So even when I feel like I have everything to lose, I have to remind myself that there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome; I just have to catch up to it. So why not be bold and roar? You have everything to gain, so go bold or go home – even if you have to fake it. It worked for me!

What did you all think?

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Comments (268)

  1. skipling says:

    For once, I agree with the network -- I'm glad they sent Josh home and gave Martie another chance. I'm really liking Ippie.

    • Cheryl ettersem says:

      I really like Ippy, he is makes things fun

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Yeh I think a big part of the whole thing with Martie's age was the producers trying to create a storyline for her as 'the old one'....they probably asked her a series questions about it throughout the taping and her responses were edited to become a theme for the episode in which she ended up in the bottom 3. Because come ON...how is being 'older' a bad thing in the cooking industry, even for women? Julia Child, anyone? Paula Dean? Lidia Bastianich? This isn't America's Next Top Model or even American Idol where you're over the hill at 27.

      • JLF says:

        Being a mature cook is not the problem, but calling attention to your mature years and apologizing for them at the beginning of every presentation is.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          Yeah you're right. Could be they struck a nerve (good guess on their part, huh?) and now she's paranoid and as she tends to babble on...and on...that was easy pickins'. I'm sure the producers ask leading questions of all the contestants "who is your biggest/weakest competition - what did you think of so-and-so's use of whatever - who do you think doesn't belong here" etc....hoping to get a response they can use to reinforce the story arc (or create drama). The contestants don't have to take the bait.

  2. Cupcake says:

    Was a great show tonight. Justin was fun and a few others just go me excited!

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Justin had me laughing out loud...trying to force Hershey Kisses through a chinois, without even unwrapping them? His totally deadpan, "by the time you smell smoke, it's too late"? And when he explained his crazy matador towel flapping to blow away the powdered sugar, I thought Alton was going to jump over the judges' table and kiss him. Dude definitely thinks outside the box. Can't wait to see what he blows up next.

      • Jerilee says:

        My son and daughter-in-law got a kick out of the Hershey Kisses. I just sat there and laughter, what was he thinking!!! He does think way outside the box.

      • FineMind says:

        Justin is definitely in my top three, and I am getting to like his unique looks. Eric, Ippy and Justin are the three I'd like to see make it through to the end.

    • barb says:

      Great show , really fun and Justin and red lips...could not watch him at all... very creepy...

      Barb

  3. FanFare57 says:

    Hey, Smartie-Aartie, Nice blog.
    I don't mind this new format as much as I thought I would. My main problem is that the outcome tonite was predictable - the need to even out the teams. Ugh. That said, the "Chopped" edition was the best ep yet. Overall, the cooks did fairly well (for having to face the dreaded mystery baskets under time constraints). Everyone completed the task at hand. A couple of the less stellar cooks were: Marti, Marti, Marti: I don't know her age, but she acts as though she's "Grandma Moses". I'm certain that I'm much older than she is, yet I think of it just as a random number. The first thing I thought of with that basket was, s'mores. Marti ran out of time when it should have taken only about 10 minutes to make. Until tonite, I had forgotten who Nikki was. She never made an impression. When Bob accused her of being overtly sexy with her "Girl on Grill" theme, I wondered why he was so priggish. At least she has a clear POV. Poor confused Josh - he just decided to forego the rocker-does-sushi idea and try Scandinavian cuisine - Whaaat? btw: Frikadelle (his dish) is a simple generic fast food item served in Germany as well. Big deal.

    • Jerilee says:

      I think I agree with you!

    • MC1 says:

      Its true that Josh's elimination evens out the teams, but to be fair, I've been waiting for him to be sent home ever since Week 1. Christie was worse in Week 1, Giada's entire team was safe last week, so it wasn't a surprise he got the axe this time.

      • FanFare57 says:

        Yes, that's true. Had Josh given a great verbal presentation, he would have made it through. (I've already forgotten about Christie.)

  4. [...] here: Aarti’s After Party: Go Bold or Go Home This entry was posted in Food Network and tagged aarti, bold, catch, competing, feel, food, home, [...]

  5. Tom says:

    Nice to see Aarti's comments here - enjoying last season's growth of contestants, and seeing the twists and turns, brought me back from the very start this time around.

    This format is great. I like the balance between the team spirit and competing as one's own person. My partner and I were just fine with Josh going (sorry Josh). Marti's self-consciousness about her age is more easily addressed and moved past than what seemed like Josh's fixation on presenting a self-identity that is _not_ a cook.

    Finally: Michele was totally being stared at weirdly and disruptively by Giada. If Giada were a guy and Michele a straight woman, there's no way that would have been as acceptable as it evidently was here. Giada, rein it in and don't be creepy.

    • RonRico says:

      Giada was just confused looking at Michele..she thought she was having a flashback and was looking at Guy Fieri.

    • 1Dishy says:

      Oh my, do you really think it was Giada's fault staring at Michele? You didn't think that Michele had a complex or perhaps a crush on Giada? So maybe it unnerved her that Giada was watching her? I mean, if you were a judge, wouldn't you be watching the contestants work? I really think it was Michele's problem--like in her head. And if she were straight, maybe she would have imagined that Bobby were staring at her the entire time. Just saying.

    • Jerilee says:

      Do you think maybe the cutting room floor was involved and it just look like Giada was staring at Michele?? I think everyone's paranoid over nothing. We see what they want us to see.

    • Tucker says:

      Michele, Anne Burrell.........is white spiked hair the official haircut of lesbians???? Someone needs to clue in Guy Fieri

      • cindy says:

        Anne Burrell is gay? Not that it matters but I did not know that. Her and Sandra Lee are my favorites. Paula used to be until she was on "who Are You Really". Oh and going to her restaurant in GA and seeing the dirt EVERYWHERE.

    • FanFare57 says:

      I thought the "Giada staring at Michelle" sub plot was oddly humorous. Michelle seemed paranoid, yet a little interested. My feeling was that because Michelle was racing around the kitchen and darting through the pantry, she attracted the most attention. I fI was sitting on the sidelines, I probably would have been wondering what she was doing, too.

  6. Tigergal says:

    Really enjoying the new format, and appreciate that the challenges seem to better reflect the types of activities a FNS might well be doing. Good Job. I don't see how anyone can beat Eric, but I really enjoy Ippy and Emily, too. One negative: I'm tired of Michelle, already! This is the third time she's been on a FN competition show. Somebody up there must love her, but she's been a giant turn-off everything I've seen her.

  7. 1Dishy says:

    Sorry, but I didn't like Josh from the get-go. When I saw his interview and he jumped up on the counter that had food on it!! Why didn't Giada get mad at him for doing that and say "thanks, but no thanks." Yet I realize she is looking for a personality. As she put it, "the viewers can't smell or taste your food." Well, the way I see it, if a chef on TV makes something memorable, there are times I think I CAN smell it cooking! And the food is much more important to me than the personality of the chef cooking it. So--no offense Giada--but I hope someone from either Bobby's or Alton's team wins. A good personality does not necessarily make for a good cooking show. It might help, but you have to know how to cook, and you have to know how to teach the audience how to cook your recipes.But back to Josh. Every time he was near a camera, he talked about being a "rock star." I don't think so. Even if he were, what does being a rock star have to do with being a great chef? Talk about your food damn it! (Please excuse my profanity.) And he talked about being onstage all the time in front of so many people, but he froze up every time the camera was on him. So not a "rock star" in the kitchen. As for Martie, I don't understand why she keeps apologizing for her age. I think I am even a bit older than her and I am a self-taught home cook. Yet sometimes I think I should be on this show! I've learned how to cook a lot of things, and I know how to create a recipe from scratch (meaning making something up with the ingredients I have on hand). I have experience speaking in front of groups, and I talk back to the TV all the time, so how could it be so difficult to speak to a camera? Martie should be proud that she is older and more experienced. That is how I feel about myself. I have a friend in culinary school, and I've corrected him on a few things and taught him a few things about cooking already. There are just some things you can't get out of a book. So if Martie can't get over her age thing, she is going to be cut soon. I'm just so glad that Alton made her say she will never bring up her age problem again! Even though I know it is a problem for her and is holding her back.

    • Mona says:

      I didn't like Josh from the beginning, don't know what Giada was thinking there!
      Martie needs to get over whatever her hang up is about her age and I was happy to hear Alton tell her to shut-up.......I'm 52 and could run circles around her!

      • Jerilee says:

        There are 5 contestants 40+ years old. The other ten are 20 and 30+ years old. So where is her hang up with age??? She only lists her age as 40+, the others ( all of them) state their age. She most defiantly has a problem with age, and she just needs to got over it.

        • FanFare57 says:

          I agree with you about Marti facing her age issue. She needs to concentrate on cooking outstanding food. I doubt Julia Child ever worried about how old she war relative to other chefs.

    • Violet says:

      IMO, Martie's rambling dialogue is more distracting then her continual age declaration. She makes me spin!

  8. Food Fan says:

    Its after 11pm here on the west coast time zone. Watched the chopped episode. Even made some notes. Will write more (probably in the next thread) but for now....

    THREE SURPRISES---Nikki, Eric & Linkie.

    Nikki: I missed the earlier episode when people talked about her and Bar-b-cue and how she reacted or talked about other contestants. I saw none of that tonight. I am thinking either she is reading the comments people have made on here and/or getting good mentoring--and-she-is-learning-from-it. Someone posted that they thought Nikki might be this years Penny. I didnt see that at all tonight. So, whatever may have happened earlier, maybe she's gettin'-with-it and shaping up and learning.
    Bob Tuschman made a reference to her acting somewhat flirty, double-entendre's, etc...but I thought it was pretty mild. Bottom line: she doesnt (at least tonight, anyway) strike me anywhere near as bad as some posts I've seen about her. People can learn from feedback and change and make improvements. If she is, its a good thing.

    Linkie: the week before chopped, she seemed just nervous enough to make me wonder. Would she become hyper later? No. She didnt. Tonight, while I'm sure the pressure is incredible for everyone, she seems to be growing stronger and gaining more confidence tonight.
    She has a warm bubbliness without being hyper or conceited.
    Did a good job on her dish with the judges (and being on Chopped, thats no small feat). Nice presentation and gave a good "Tip." Didnt pay that much attention to her before, but she surprised me in a very positive way in this chopped challenge. Nice work, Linkie!

    Eric: Was kinda skeptical about his doing so much from scratch, but he rocked it tonight! His dish had great taste. He's outgoing. Good job!

    Judges: I think they made the right decision in sending Josh home. He just plain rambles too much.
    The rest of the contestants can take a lesson from Josh's going home. FOCUS! Get to the Point! Have enthusiasm but be genuine. Say it simple. Keep it short.

    Well, its just about midnight here. Will make some comments on other contestants later. Looks like the next challenge will be quite a bit different from the chopped challenge.

    • Antoinette says:

      I truly hope we will see more from these contestants in future. I like Eric's authentic attitude towards food. He comes over as confident.
      Nikki 's personality was portrait as more likable in this episode and I believe she can cook.
      Linkie is a shiner that does not push herself to the forefront. What we saw of her tonight is exactly who she is: no drama, no troublemaker; just a very hard worker that will deliver excellent results at all time!

    • mlp says:

      Your comments about people learning and improving are valid in a general way but they don't apply here. These episodes were taped months ago and the decisions are over and done with. Nothing said in these comments can make the slightest difference in the outcome. However, I do think that FN pays some attention to what viewers want so comments may affect a show planned for the future.

      • Food Fan says:

        ..? Bad day? Need a hug?
        Geez...then you could say: why should *any* of us bother commenting at all?
        If its already a done-deal then anything anyone writes on this forum wont apply. The decision is made and none of our comments will change it.
        But we all comment as the adventure unfolds. Its fun. For alot of us.

        • Anne says:

          I was out of the country when the series began so caught up with things last night. What I distinctly remember is that someone, Bobby?, said that the viewers were going to be able to vote for the winner, which I remember doing back when Guy was in the running. Ergo, while comments here may not influence the contestants they certainly can influence other voters.

      • Cookbook Chef says:

        Your 100% "CORRECT"!!! The outcome was decided months ago! Say what you will but it won't change a thing. "mlp" is right about the FN reading everything we write for the idea's for the next show. It would be nice to have Judges that are not so critical or rude though! Nobody has the right to degrade any contestant! Even Bobby Flay said if he had to go through this process he'd never have gotton a show! They make it harder each season and it seems like it's more about "RATINGS" than food! I thought this was a food show where I could learn more about my hobby and get some new idea's. Guess I was wrong!

        • Food Fan says:

          I never said our writing would change anything right now.
          I never denied that the winner hasnt already won, before we see the outcome.
          I dont care.
          I write anyway. Along with hundreds of others. If it doesnt do anything til maybe next year or a future show, so be it. Its fun to read everyone's feedback. And get ideas for future shows. And write.

          • Cheryl <> says:

            FN is paying attention because the vote comes down to the viewers this year on the final episode. It's announced at the beginning of each show. Guy Fieri is pointing out and the announcer is saying the "the vote comes down to you."

          • Cheryl <> says:

            Correction meant one - the.

          • Food Fan says:

            Ya know, I'm still thinking about that. All of us voting on the winner. And while I am glad to have an opportunity to vote, I'm not so sure its a good idea to let the viewers do it.
            Why? Because: whoever has the most friends on facebook--or the most followers on Twitter, will get the largest army of voters to "stack the vote". IF--it were somehow tracked by computer IP address and its strictly "one-person, one vote, one time. Only!", then maybe OK. But I'm leery about it
            I look for 4 things in a final winner:
            1. The best food
            2. the best easy-to-follow clear & simple teaching ability
            3. who is a likeable, genuine person with a warm smile
            4. who ISN'T loud, weird, dull, too intense or a turn-off.
            I fear that too many people will be far more subjective and arbitrary than that. Just my opinion....and thats what we're here for. (smile)

          • Cheryl <> says:

            Sorry, they've done the vote thing before on here just to see who people liked. I didn't know if you realized people were actually picking a winner this time. Anyway, yeah I don't get the voting ten times a day thing...makes me weary. Lol. I think it will be what it will be. Just hope it's someone good. Signing off.

          • Tucker says:

            The "viewer vote" is just a gimmick. FN has already decided who will win. The vote is just to let viewers think they had some input in the matter.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        I"d like to think that we posters had something to do with the new format...why they have 'mentors' to babysit the contestants, so there's less chance of Penny-like shenanigans which really bugged the crap out of a lot of us last year. But then again, they invited her and the other most-annoying cast member from last year, dorkhead frat boy Chris, to Chopped All Stars, so who knows? No surprise they didn't make it to the dessert round.

        • Food Fan says:

          (nods).
          Who knows? Our feedback last year may have had some impact on things this year. People sure sounded-off and spoke their mind last year!
          It seems as if there is less participation and writing on these forums this year. Some people may have quit and left because of all the drama and criticism about degenerating into realty-TV and too much drama.
          Still, I am glad we can all come here and comment. I like to think it helps future seasons and shows. But i hope they give *more* weight to what people actually write---than just peeking at who's ahead in an online survey-poll.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          Edited to add, the dessert round vs. the REAL FN All Stars, I mean. Penny did win her preliminary round where she competed against Chris (big whoop). I was pulling for Vic myself - he was the only one of those four I'd liked in their season (Justin was soooo boring and 'whatever, dude') but I'm disappointed he went for the "Vic Vegas" schtick instead of the more endearing "Mama's Boy" that the judges had tried to steer him into.

        • Tigergal says:

          They picked controversial chefs for sure OR no one else was interested??

          • beachinfrizzy says:

            I'd like to think the chefs from that season with real culinary talent who just didn't light up the screen (Whitney comes to mind - I liked her low-key, non-manic, non comedian approach but for some reason TPTB didn't like her at all - assigning her pop tarts, really?) were too busy focusing on their actual chef careers rather than reality 'star' careers.

  9. Phineas says:

    Josh needed to go home; he wasn't right for this. The Rock Star thing was overplayed and a distraction from his POV. I'm glad that Martie is getting another chance, but I don't see her going much further in the competition...her dishes are too simplistic. I liked the Nikki we saw in the Producers Challenge (the steak looked GREAT!). The Michelle/Giada thing was weird. I thought Markus' food looked good, but he needs to work on presentation to TELL us how good it is. Judson was just Judson again. Yvan is kind of forgettable...certainly he is a talented cook, but I can't see his personality holding anyone's attention for a half hour show week after week. Maybe practicing in front of a mirror or a video camera would help him. So far, my favorites (as of this week) are Eric, Linkie, and Ippy. The dishes they have prepared are dishes I want to try making, and their personalities capture your attention.

    • Jim says:

      I thought Josh should have gone home week 1, and probably would have gone home last week if his team hadn't bailed him out. I've liked Ippy from the beginning, and Eric is growing on me - my biggest concern with him is whether he can translate "from scratch" into a relatable show that viewers will want to watch. I'd watch it for sure, but I love to try new things in the kitchen. I don't know if your typical FN viewer who lives on a diet of Ten Dollar Semi-Homemade 30-Minute Meals is going to be bothered with a chance to learn how to roll their own pasta and stuff their own sausages instead of just buying them at the store.

      • Food Fan says:

        That is a concern, yes. Who has the time?
        And yet, if people are just willing to put in a little time, it will often pay off for them in their own dishes. Will viewers do it? Its a gamble. But Eric is doing a nice job.
        I'd like to see more of Marita and Ippy again, as they did so well, before. A little more subdued tonight, but both are likeable and have made good food. Will be watching them, too. And Emily, is another one. I like Linkie's sincerity and she's making tasty dishes.
        Not sure about Yvan. I suspect he may end up being a guy who makes good stuff, but someone I cant really listen to. Will wait-n-see on that one.
        As for Josh, yeah. It was time for him to go. Too much rambling.
        The next challenge will de different from chopped, and also interesting.

      • JLF says:

        A little unfair to classify all FN viewers as living on "a diet of Ten Dollar Semi-Homemade 30-Minute Meals", implying that you're the exception who likes to try new things. Reading the blogs indicates that there is a wide spectrum of cooking interests and abilities represented by the viewers.

      • Single mom. says:

        Jim, your snob is showing, "Ten Dollar Semi-Homemade 30-Minute Meals". What the hell is wrong with wanting to provide good food for your family if you are on both a time budget and money budget? At least we are trying to feed our family right. If I had time I would make my own pasta, grind my own wheat, bake my own bread, stuff my own sausage, but I do have other commitments (like a full time job!).

    • Rebecca says:

      I agree with many of your assessments Phineas. I dont necessarily agree with you about Yvan. I think of all the contestants that he gets the least screen time, and i havent seen enough of him yet to make a fair judgement at this point. I find him talented, and very memorable.

      I think thats the flaw of the new show format. By focusing on the "star mentors" and their relationships amongst each other, its robbing the viewer of being able to get to know/ fall in love with each contestant, making the show much more impersonal. Personally i'd rather see the team waking up/ bonding together then footage of Giada or Alton bickering. Maybe it's just me.

      • Phineas says:

        I hear what you're saying, Rebecca. Yvan has talent in the kitchen, but there seems to be a disconnect when he is presenting and he misses the mark with the audience. Having worked on-air in broadcasting and television production for 30 years, I can tell you that you don't get many second chances to connect with the audience. As for Yvan, he's got the smile and the energy and the cooking skills, but his delivery falls flat as if there is a wall between him and the audience. He talks AT the audience. The key to being a successful on-air personality is to create the perception of a two-way conversation, even though you are the only one speaking. It takes a lot of practice.

    • Phineus says:

      Realizing that I had missed the first 20 minutes of the show, I just watched it online. I need to add another favorite: Emily. I think her show would be interesting.

      • JLF says:

        She's my early favorite, and still hanging in strong.

      • Jerilee says:

        I agree, Phineus. She does show potential. She's quirky, fun, and energetic. She has a personality that shines. I just don't know where she finds the time or energy to peruse her PhD, expand the doughnut shop international, AND be on this show!!! Ahh to be young again!!!!

  10. Guest says:

    Enjoyed last night's Chopped style competition for the contestants. It was time for Josh to go home, though. I felt so bad for Martie--I think she is a gracious person but might not have the cooking depth in the long run (although her somemores did look yummy). So glad to see Linkie shine! I am still cheering for Emily, Judson and Eric. I agree that the Michelle/Giada thing was weird--why edit something like that? Good luck to all the contestants and I'm looking forward to next week's show!