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. Tucker says:

    Okay, let's recap. Week one: Alton loses a team member. Week two: Bobby loses a team member. Then in week three.....a stunning upset!!!!.......um, wait........no........no upset. It played out exactly as expected. Giada loses a team member (deservedly so). Okay teams are tied again. Not surprised Josh got the boot though. He was at the bottom on week one. Week two was a team competition and that was the ONLY reason he didn't hit bottom again. Week three, strike three. You're outta here!

    • vert2013 says:

      It was so set up it was kinda pathetic. Giadas team was the only team that hadn't lost a member and they were given a much harder basket in my opinion.

  2. bandit86 says:

    Please Food network stop posting who gets voted off on the main page, I log in and the first thing I see is who lost (WTF) By the way the butler did it, and the Titanic sinks.

    I still don't like the format, people are still to pastey looking, and I don't like the mentoring, whats up with that if they are going to tell them how to cook and how to do stuff and what there tip should be, make next years show contestants people who can't cook (I'll volunteer, I can make toast you show me the rest)
    Other than that love the show :)

  3. Happyguest says:

    Emily is my choice for the Next Food Network Star. She is quirky, bright, has energy, can cook, and I think would present a very interesting cooking show. I think she has "the whole package" and I would definitely watch her show. I would also consider Ippy or Martita--Ippy seems like a very nice person, has an interesting background, and would be easy to watch. Martita has lots of energy if brought out during her presentations and I think she can really cook and would be fun to watch. But Emily is my first choice and hope she is THE ONE!

    • Food Fan says:

      Thank you for giving REASONS for why you like who you like! :)
      I'm still trying to decide.
      I look for 4 things:
      best food
      best simple & clear teaching ability
      from someone like-able, genuine w/a warm smile
      who *Isn't* weird, loud, dull, too intense or a turn-off.
      Thats my Total-package. :)

      I'm thinking there are probably about a half-dozen good contenders out of the bunch. Will narrow it down and have a better idea after this next challenge.

    • Vinny says:

      I liked her at first but after the second and third time she used the word "retro" and made a reference to the 50's, I got sick of her. I think there's a place for her somewhere...but I don't think she is necessarily the best suited to win THIS competition. That said, I don't like when ANY of the contestants try to go with a gimmick/schtick that they think will get them attention (Rock and roll, anyone?)

      • Food Fan says:

        I'm not wild about the shape/style of her glasses.
        But as a person, she is easy to listen to and her Motzah captured the flavors. Not quite sure yet on this one. I do like her better than some of the others, but I dont have any top pick yet.

        • Vinny says:

          I like her better than Nikki for sure. I like her better than Eric (Though again, I have to say I think he is the most talented of the whole pack) and I like her better than Justin. Justin still sounds like a motivational speaker to me....plus I hate reality show sobbing. Overall though, Yvan, Ippy & Martita would do better in front of the camera, me thinks. Though I don't think Yvan has the composure. Also, I like Martie....I'm just not sure she can carry an entire show without some serious help.

          • Food Fan says:

            Speaking of crying....
            I'm so tired of any sob-stories at all.
            "My dad owned a restaurant, then he died and his last wish was that I'd somehow carry on...for him...the kids...the neighborhood"..and on and on.
            I dont wish bad on anyone but geeeez, if I want that kinda stuff, I can get a magazine at the grocery checkout and read all about someone's battle with anorexia, their divorce, being in re-hab, family issues and on and on.
            That is NOT why I tune-in to anyone's show!
            I like your FOOD--and I like YOU!
            Besides, I can always click on someone's Bio and be done with it.

      • JLF says:

        She may be emphasizing the retro thing because of the judges insistence on having a POV and their history of critisizing contestants who seem unsure about what their cooking style is. It may be that AB has coached her to keep that idea forward in the judges' minds.

  4. Liz says:

    WOW! I agree with everyone's comments. Josh had to go, can't believe Giada even selected him . Michelle really freaked out with Giada staring at her. Last night was the best episode yet. .

  5. Cheryl <> says:

    I've often thought how much of the ringer these people endure to get the job over the years. Seemed like someone was bawling or spilling their guts to let you get to know them. This last go around with Marti, why not let her take the fall on camera (on her own.) Wait until later to chew on her (if you must) instead of the public humiliation. I know some people think the old-fashioned teacher idea, but I thought it was overboard. There's other ways to get the point across. If not "Good bye!"

    • Food Fan says:

      Alton startled everyone.
      I'm wondering if we'll now see a "kinder, gentler Alton." Maybe.
      My hats-off to Martie for doing a remarkable job of taking it all with such charm and grace! And who knows? She may learn from all the feedback and surprise us later. Still lots of possibilities for a final winner.

  6. SkepticalFan says:

    I kinda got the feeling that Linkie has been pushed into desserts by Giada the first two weeks, and then off course this week was a given. I feel certain that she could cook anything if given the chance, since she does have a culinary arts degree. But then again, her POV is teaching people to decorate cakes and make pastries. She said on her casting video that she would like to do that if she got her own show, so I would think that she's on the right track? I have to admit here, I googled her, and I saw where she had won a Top chef competition, where she prepared and executed a whole menu. I think she should be given a chance. I think she definitely has a bubbly personality, not only seemed at ease with this week’s Chopped challenge, but really looked like she was enjoying herself. I’m going to have to say that I would enjoy watching her.

    • Food Fan says:

      The bad thing about POV is: as soon as you declare any point of view, there is far too much of a tendency to put-them-in-a-box and limit the person to their point of view. And if they do anything else or try to show some variety of talent and range, they are somehow not-being-true-to-their-roots or who they are. Baloney!! I absolutely want a Cook who is NOT just a "one-trick Pony." if Food Network wants a specialty-niche person for a given season or next show---then just be up-front and say so! Otherwise, its completely fake to act as if everyone has a chance and its anyone's game. But dont LIMIT and CONFINE the contestants!
      When I can point to a Cook (female or male)--and honestly and enthusiastically say:
      "THAT woman, or man, makes *everything* good. Their food is always awesome! and they make lots of different things"... someone like that, is a STAR. :)
      I'd prefer that anyday compared to: 12 ways to make pancakes. (Even if they are good pancakes.)

      • Guest says:

        Foodfan, I like your comments and fully agree with what you said about a Star. I also know Linkie is a star!

        • Food Fan says:

          Thank you for the kind words!
          Linkie, i think, is one to watch.
          I've seen some others write on here that she can cook and do alot more than just dessert. I'm hoping she gets a chance to do that.
          I like Linkie's "real-ness."
          There are several good contenders.
          And some who I would send home, fast.
          Still not sure who my favorite is yet. But I think Linkie will be on my
          short-list of "Keepers."

    • Guest says:

      Thank you for your analysis on this contestant. I think your comment nailed it.

  7. Diana House says:

    I agree with the comments about Alton, he needs to remember his manners & also, he needs to shave & get a hair-cut! (Is he trying to look like Josh?) Giada is messing with Emily, just to freak her out, I think!

  8. Diana House says:

    I meant Michelle, not Emily! Oops!

  9. Wilma says:

    Yeah Josh is gone! Never liked him from the beginning! Martie needs to show us she can cook! Ippy you rock! I don't know why they keep saying he is too laid back. He is a great cook!

  10. vert2013 says:

    I haven't gone through and read all the posts so this might have been mentioned already but I'm pretty sure Alton got a stern "talking to" from Bob after his little outburst. Every single person that was at the judges table looked completely appalued by his behavior towards Martie.

    • Food Fan says:

      My hats-off to Martie for doing a remarkable job of taking it all with such charm and grace!
      Talking to? I didnt know. But yes, I thought Alton surprised (even startled) everyone. It'll be interesting, if we now see "a kinder, gentler Alton."