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. Debra says:

    Chopped episode was best ever- PLEASE do another with entrees and apps! My final 4- Eric, Emily, Justin, Yvan. I see my favorites creeping up the leaderboard-maybe I have a nose for the real talent. Great job food net!

    • Food Fan says:

      Its nice that we can vote.
      But I'm hoping "the Food-powers-that-be" will give more weight to what people actually write in these threads, and take the time to read it, even though it takes longer--- than looking at a voting poll.
      There will be ups & downs in performances. Things can change.
      Martita & Linkie are off to a good start. Ippy is worth watching, too

  2. Single Mom says:

    Love Food Network Star, and I am enjoying the new format, good to see the mentoring. It is still way to early to predict who will win, but I have to say that Ippie is my hands down favorite at this time, really like his layed back personality. I hope that the judges see that is part of his appeal.

  3. beachinfrizzy says:

    I didn't have a problem with Josh 'conveniently' being cut (thus making the teams even), because he was past his expiration date. As someone else mentioned, not sure why Giada picked him in the first place...oh yeah, he's good looking. His POV was confused (I'm a Rocker! In a band! With an Asian Fusion cooking style! Because I'm Scandinavian! And I make sushi! Did I mention I have a band??) and it showed in his food and rambling incoherent presentation. So, no harm no foul as far as I'm concerned. Hope his rock band is a success, seemed like a pretty nice guy who just needs to focus.

    Nikki is meh for me. I don't remember her from last week at all and had to look at my notes to even comment on what she made (ah yes, pasta sheet bread pudding, good idea, not.) Glad Martie stayed because I get a feeling the 'age' thing is something the producers were goading her into talking about ("so, how do you feel among all these young 'uns...do you think you're at a disadvantage because of it?) and it's making her paranoid. But I don't think she's in it for the long haul either.

    • cindy says:

      I agree with you. Their are lots of them that are forgetable. However I do think Giada should be the next one to go and be off FN for ever. How can she teach other cook to be a star? Where she on her show chews with her mouth open so rudely and smiles with that dog bone mouth. I also think we have MORE than enough Italian Cooking shows as well as Mexican food shows. Lets have something we don't know how to cook.

      • Food Fan says:

        Yes, I can think of 3 or 4 that I wouldn't miss if they were gone tomorrow.
        This is inevitable. Some rub us the wrong way and some are just boring or not memorable.
        I hope all the contestants get opportunities to cook a variety of dishes ("show me what you can do!") and are not limited or confined. I think this whole idea of point-of-view is just plain bad --because it restricts everybody far too much!
        I want a Cook who can do-it-all. Where everything they make, is fabulous!

  4. Annalise Loos says:

    I like Eric. He seems like the best cook and certainly one of the best teachers. Successful recipes and helpful teaching tips make the Barefoot Contessa so popular. Paula Deen carries the fun and charm, but watching Ina Garten has made me a competent home cook. I would watch a cooking show with Eric.

    • Mona says:

      Eric is a good cook but he has no personality at all and is not memorable to me

      • FineMind says:

        I like Eric very much and I think we will see his personality emerge. Also agree that he is a good teacher in the manner of Ina Garten. I love big personalities like Rachel and Guy, but sometimes I just want calm competence.Eric is that in spades.

  5. Sandy says:

    It’s nice that everyone hugs everyone just hating to see someone eliminated, but...um...don’t cha think they are just a teensy weensy bit happy inside because each person that leaves is one less competitor...even if it IS a team member that leaves?

    I think Giada was ready for Josh to leave. Poor guy just gets overly ambitious & tongue tied. He has to fake excitement each time he does his minute video. I understand the network wanting them to sound excited about their recipe but its kinda making them not be themselves in wanting them to be hyped each time they explain their dish. Just be genuine. Don’t put me to sleep but they shouldn’t have to be like an over caffeinated pushy sales person on red bull. Bob thought Yvan should be more hyped & I thought he was fine. Can’t imagine how it feels to just stand there & take criticism ...sometimes constructive and sometimes nit picky. Kudos to those folks for subjecting themselves to that mess.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      I thought Yvan was fine too, presentation-wise, and I'm not sure I want to see him ramp up the fake enthusiasm to overcompensate, but I fear we've been shown a snippet of exactly that in next week's previews. As for his food, I thought he skated by for the 2nd week in a row. If a 'real' Chopped contestant took 4 ingredients and made 3 completely separate mini-dishes (he only combined the coconut and popcorn which BTW...yum), he or she would be dinged for not 'tying them all together'.

      • Food Fan says:

        Yes! I saw that snippet of next week. And my impression is that Yvan is gonna go waayyy the other way and overdo it.
        This is a lesson for other contestants: when a judge tells you they'd like to see more of something...I think its better to think in terms of increasing whatever by 35-40% more. Not the maxxed-out 110% extreme. I'm betting Yvan does this and shoots himself in the foot.
        On another note...just thinking....the chopped challenge was cooking before 3 or 4 judges. I wonder if there will soon be a challenge where the contestants hafta make food for, say, a whole department of employees, or 75 or more people. Who knows what Food Network will come up with this year? The Adventure continues... :)

  6. Sandy says:

    Even if Martie can’t cook as well as the others, I like her & hope they’ll find someplace for her. Shut up and cook! Yes sir! I’m glad Martie could see Alton meant well for her & didn’t take it personal & get offended. That was maturity! I personally didn’t find him mean or arrogant with the statement...just trying to quickly bring her down to earth because she does like to talk...

    I think Alton has a quirky yet straightforward personality which matches the image he wants to portray along with his peculiar dress. I like him & find his sense of humor priceless. I’m much happier with Food Network Star & their format than with Design Star.

    So far I like Justin, Ippy, Emily, & Eric.

    • Food Fan says:

      Yes! Kudos to Martie for handling it all very well. She takes criticism far better than many would. Who knows? She may surprise us. Its still early. Not even halfway there.
      Emily is watchable and Alton likes her past credentials.
      Ippy is someone I wanna see more of what he can do.
      Im still narrowing things down to a favorite 5 or 6 people.

  7. beachinfrizzy says:

    Hey did anyone else catch Susie's wince after she picked up Yvan's 'grape soda reduction' and drank it? Priceless! I know there's not enough time to show every comment by every judge (especially when there are 9 of them), but I'm dying to know what she said or thought about it after making that "I just sucked on a lemon" face.

    • Sandy says:

      Yup! I saw it too! Wish they'd put some of the behind the scenes stuff on line in video for us to watch at leisure.

    • FanFare57 says:

      I noticed Susie's "ewww" expression when she slurped that syrup. I'm surprised she didn't mention it's failure. Maybe, she forgot because Yvan was getting reamed for other things. She may not have wanted to pour more salt on the wound...

  8. Kelly says:

    Just watched last night's episode, was out of town for the weekend. Happy Memorial Day to everyone! Well Josh being let go was not a surprise. Had to even the playing field. Sorry to anyone who liked Nikki, but she makes chills go up my spine. While I also like Marti, she sure is not still there because of the cooking skills. I have watched every season of this show and unfortunately, they have just turned this into a straight drama ridden reality show with no caring as in previous seasons. Even Bob and Susie don't seem to have the emotions about the contestants as they use to. I am sure it will be a bust with each winner as usual. (Except, Guy F. love him).

  9. Sandy says:

    I agree that it is peculiar that the Food Network winners show seems to be placed on tv at a time when you either forget they're on tv or its at some obscure time. Yet some of the shows like Diners Dive-Ins and Dives are on over and over and over. Why? I've yet to see Mauro's Sandwich King.

    Can't they rotate some of the old shows (Neeleys, etc.,) & put their FN star on in a better time frame so we can get some fresh ideas of others? Are the ratings of those old shows that high so they get to keep their same spot??? Newer shows don't have much of a chance.

    • Food Fan says:

      Seems like the new winners get dumped onto a weekend time-slot.
      Am glad they finally let Melissa D'Arabian be on during the weekdays at (usually) 1:30pm in the pacific time zone. I wonder how her show and ratings are doing.
      She is someone I can learn from.
      She makes stuff I would actually eat.
      ...and she doesnt have 26 tattoos. Nice.
      There are too many repeats of DD&D. How about taking 2 or 3 weekend shows (which no one ever see's cuz they're sleeping in...out at the Mall shopping, etc) and showing them here n there in the weekday evenings instead of all these re-runs?

      • Sandy says:

        Sooooo agreee with you!!!!

        HGTV was doing the same thing with House Hunters showing on tv over and over and over! Weird! And it was old episodes at that! Hopefully someone from the Network peruses these posts & makes changes for the better.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Yes I've noticed $10 dinners has appeared just as I'm starting to think about what to have for dinner, here in the NY metro area...so, that's good for me! I never watched it (or any of the other new NFNS shows) in their Sunday morning slots...I have choir rehearsal or if I'm not going to church I am attempting to sleep in or more likely busy with my kids. Those early weekend slots must be the boot camp of programming to see if the rookies can cut it before they are promoted to afternoons and eventually, prime time in Guy's case (and Guy's case alone, if I'm not mistaken).

        Agree too much DDD! Also too many cake/cupcake shows too but I do like Sweet Genius. It's more like Chopped with its 3 types of dishes and random curveball ingredients and I get such a kick out of RBI. Better than the formulaic panel of 'one nice judge, one harsh judge, one guest judge, and one affable host'

        • fn fan says:

          Yes! I have not seen Sandwich King yet, nor Aarti's Party. 10 dollar dinners is a great show! She talked me into buying a rice cooker. Where do all the fnstars shows go???? Arent there 7 of them? Of course Guy we always see, and he is so awesome he has two shows! Cupcake show is old and no fun... so tired of that. Sweet Genius is great, Chef Ron is a real character and fun to watch!

    • cindy says:

      Don't bother with "Mauro's Sandwich King". So boring with no personality that you don't want to watch. I am hoping he will soon be gone. I was a fan of his as he competed but now NO THANKS!

    • Jerilee says:

      I agree Sandy. I have DDD 3 nights a week, all night. I would love to see other shows in rotation.

  10. Renée says:

    I just got back from my weekend and of course, watched this show on my DVR. I am not a fan of the new team format but I did love this week because it focused on each star individually. I agree with you, Aarti, that the shift of focus from a team dynamic to an individual competition had a different affect on each of them. It seemed to favor the more quiet, introverted contestants over the extroverted ones. The quieter ones can get drowned out by the louder ones. I'm an introvert, so it's the story of my life and I appreciate seeing introverts being given a situation that allows them to shine and get noticed for a change!

    What irked me about this show is Marti. Being over 50, I can identify with feeling a little insecure about my age in some situations, but this is a cooking competition on a channel that features stars in different age brackets, not a modeling competition. I have to say that I watch a lot of competitive shows and if there's someone a little older, they always seem to mention their age. It even happens on "Dancing with the Stars" all the time. It bugs me no end. Being over 50 doesn't make a person less able or worthy of winning a competition. That's outdated thinking because surely people are living much longer these days and looking (and feeling) much better at 50 than ever before. When Marti said she realized her age made it harder for her to run around the kitchen I almost threw something at the TV - I am probably her age at least and I would see no problem with doing that. Perhaps if they asked me to scale a mountain or drop and do 50 situps, that would be an issue, but the way she's acting is only feeding into whatever stereotype she is buying into about herself. If there are people out there that have an issue with her age, that's their problem. Obviously no one has an issue with Paula Deen's or Martha Stewart's age, so why her? It's just so maddening! I am sick and tired of age being made an issue on these shows. It really does insult people over a certain age. Like what are they trying to tell us? They could have left Marti's comments about age on the cutting room floor, but no.....

    BTW, Sandy, I agree that they always put the winner's show on at the worst possible time. If not for my DVR I never would have been able to watch Melissa or Aarti's shows. I am very upset about Aarti's show being canceled and I think the time slot had everything to do with it. Why don't they get a clue? Why have a competition at all if they're not going to give the winner a fighting chance?

    • Sandy says:

      Well with Alton making that "oath", I'll bet noone will nag Marti about it anymore...that is, if they had been doing it in the first place.

      And I too have wondered why they have the competition if they really don't want these people to be featured as someone with a different perspective on cooking. If its on various times we can then make the choice if we don't like them and then they can be removed if the ratings fail but being in a weird time slot kinda sets them up for failure. They're still braggin on Guy Fieri, their FN star but he's on too much. Overkill.