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. Rueben says:

    Welll.... I think we all knew that was coming didn't we?

  2. kit says:

    Ooooh, someone from Giada's team went home? Shocked, I tell ya.

    My only real complaint is, do the judges have to be so nasty? Really?

    • Cookbook Chef says:

      Darn right! Who are they to say what they did! They have made so many mistakes they are lucky to even have a show or their jobs! I like most of them but not the comments they made. There is no reason to be so disrespectful of the contestants!

      • texasgirl75234 says:

        I don't think the judges have been nasty. If these people can't take the criticizm, then they don't need to be here!

        • JLF says:

          The only exception IMO was Alton, who really seemed over the top last night. The other judges were fine as far as I could see.

      • FanFare57 says:

        to Cookbook Chef - you are being facetious, right?

  3. Athena says:

    Two things:
    1. Alton hurt my feelings last night and he wasn't even talking to me! He has become such a turn-off that I cringe when he is on the screen. I have stopped watching Iron Chef America altogether because of him. Please get him some professional help, FN!

    2. Martie's age hang-up is driving me crazy. If I could watch the first three episodes and take a drink everytime Martie brings up age, I would be pretty well blitzed by the end. GET OVER IT, MARTIE! I am in my forties and I am going back to college. I am probably old enough to be some of my classmates' mother, but I don't let it get to me! I am there for a purpose and so are you, so roll up your sleeves and get it done!

    • Food Fan says:

      I was surprised, and it took me off guard, when Martie brought up age at all.
      And I'm not sure is she's just on borrowed time with her cooking, or if she will make better dishes as the challenges continue.
      One more thing: when I consider how past seasons (especially the last 2) have had toooo much drama and cattiness....I am now wondering if this year, instead of the drama being amongst the contestants, if it will become the mentors having a catfight with each other. Dont know yet.

      • Single Mom says:

        I for one did not enjoy the cat fighting last year and am enjoying the show so much more this year.

    • FanFare57 says:

      I share your sentiments. I used to like ICA until Alton's voice permeated it nonstop. His blather and little Kevin jumping into the chef's space to act like Jimmy Olson getting a scoop (while they are working) got on my last nerve. I tried hitting mute during Alton's and Scoop Brauch's blather. Then I just watched the very beginning and the last third with the presentations. Now, Ms. Mouth (er, Marti) goes on and on and on and then complains about her advanced age. She could change her moniker to "Rambling Rose".

      • Sandy says:

        That's funny!! You're right! Kevin is a bit Jimmy Olson-ish! Couldn't think of who he reminded of til you made that staement. Its got to be aggravating for the chefs while they're trying to cook and concentrate...between him and the cameraman in their way while they run back and forth, its got to be annoying.
        BUT.. FanFare57......me likes me Alton! And Marti! ....

  4. JLF says:

    While it was an awfully close call, I think it was right to send Josh home. He has been in the bottom twice, and likely would have been prime for elimination last week if his team had not been safe. His presentations have been beyond awful and he's not getting it with Giada's coaching. He just keeps falling back on rock star Danish cooking.
    That said, Marti is on borrowed time with her elememtary cooking skills. Deviled eggs and s'mores are, even dressed up are not good enough to plan a show around. She may have some quirky charm (when she leaves out her age), but that won't get folks to tune in.

    I really hope they continue with the 3 person cook-offs at the end. I think it's more fair and keeps everyone on their toes.

  5. Cheryl <> says:

    Agreed time for Josh's departure, still felt sorry for him; the way he acted when leaving. Emily is plugging right along; she has the warmest smile. Justin came off a bit cocky to me with presentation, but probably just confidence speaking though.

    • Getinmybelly says:

      Justin rocks - he's got the confidence, the smarts, and he is definitely interesting to watch.

  6. Food Fan says:

    While i try to be fair and everyone deserves a chance...still, as this all unfolds, some contestants will do better, and some will appeal to us better, and some wont. For me, Justin doesnt. If Martie is perky and outgoing but may not have the chops to go-the-distance, then Justin may have the chops but doesnt seem appealing to me. Watch the video of himself he submitted. He barely smiles at all. The red lipstick in one of his videos is a turn-off, at least for me. And as you say, he comes off a bit cocky. What can I say? ALL of us will have those who appeal to us and those who dont.
    Still early. At least 5 more people need to go home before we really get to "the meat" of things.
    Emily is one who I suspect we just havent seen blossom yet. A better group of contestants this year. Quite a few seem to be both good at food and presentation.
    I wish Food Network would do 2 more double-eliminations. Still anyone's game at this point.

  7. Joan says:

    I don't think that we have a clear idea from each contestant of the type of show that they want to do for the network except for this week with Michele with her Girl on Grill concept. I would really like to see a little more understanding on the type of show that they would bring to the network. I do know that the girl with the fifties trend would like something to do with comfort or retro food but that is about it.

  8. Acegranny says:

    I am a major fan of food network programming. I am glad Josh went home, he was a rock star, and shoul stick to that, he did not have the personality for tv. Marti, please, I am older than you, you do carry on about being older, get over it..you probably won't last long. I am tired of Michelle and her grundgy clothing, and as far as being stared at, if she had been concentrating on her food, she would not have noticed...And does Michelle realize how many people will be staring at her when filming a weekly show, let alone viewers at home..get the chip off of your shoulder....and btw, the comment on a previous week about the seafood and wine, was NOT appropriate for the food network channel, really. Keep the good programming going!!

  9. Tammi says:

    I really like Martita. She has a spunky personality, she can cook well, and she's pretty. I think that the Chopped judges overwhelmed almost everyone last week. I don't really like Justin. He looks like he's wearing lipstick. Chap-stick is more appropriate. I can't believe that he got away with his poor time management! Nobody even told him off about it when he got judged! I do agree that Josh should have gone home. He's cute, but his POV is VERY confusing to me.

    • Food Fan says:

      Martita made a wonderful Cerviche'! Susie Fogelson really liked it.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Why should Justin be "told off about his time management" when he completed the task on time? The judges also raved about his dish, btw.

    • Juan says:

      i think lipstick or chapstick is irrelevant in any case. he was good. fire alton and hire justin!

      • Food Fan says:

        It is relevant.
        There are hundreds of people all across America who DO "have Chops" and CAN cook. But why watch from someone capable if they're a turn-off? Whatever you, me, or any of watching consider a turn off. Lots of folks last year sounded-off write here on these forums about how he might be a nice guy, but they just couldnt get past Vic Vegas's tattoos. And they said so. Too all those people who write in and posted, it matters. Whether male or female.

  10. Ellen says:

    I hope that FN doesn't do this team thing every year. It doesn't really allow everyone's POV to shine through-at least, not yet. Plus, what happened to the behind the scenes? It adds drama to the show, and it shows more of the competitors personality. Last year was REALLY big on drama. There are definitely some big personalities that might cause friction at the house. Show us the drama, FN! That's what makes it fun to our family.

    • JLF says:

      It may be that in the early rounds the team thing makes sense since we have to get through a large number of contestants every episode. Once the herd has been thinned out to more manageable numbers and we're dealing with the strongest contestants we'll see each one highlighted better.

    • Food Fan says:

      Drama? As in last year's Penny? and Chris, the loud immature one?
      Ughhh...no thanks.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Right there with ya, Food Fan. And don't forget drama queen Mary Beth (the one always going at it with Penny), the ditzy blonde who made the undercooked cake-ball-on-a-stick, and monotone Justin with those giant earlobe thingies who was just too cool for it all.

    • Jerilee says:

      Sorry, Ellen, I don't agree. If I wanted to watch "drama" I could re-watch last season, or for more drama, Jersey Shore. I don't want to see how they wake up in the morning and fight for the bathroom, or how they do or don't get along at the house. now that the field is narrowing we, hopefully, see each competitor more "up close".

    • FanFare57 says:

      If you're looking for drama, you might want to check out Bravo's "Top Chef". The drama is over-the-top.