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. Ellen says:

    Hey Debra, if you have a "nose for talent" don't forget Martita! Now THERE'S talent for ya! She's got chops, personality, and looks. she could easily attract a crowd. (If she doesn't make this artichoke-y lasanga thing like Marcella, on Mexican Made Easy)

    • Debra says:

      Hi Ellen,
      I like both Yippy & Martita too- I would probably tie them at #4 right now with Yvan. However, regarding Martita- I will not be able to watch a Latino or Mexican themed show because I recently had to give up my chili peppers, tomatoes, Cayenne, etc. . I still miss them terribly and do not want the torture-(-For health reasons I am following the blood-type diet- " Eat Right For Your Type" by D'Adamo.) Blood Type A's (like me)- do best without vinegar too- Can you Imagine????!!!- It's In everything--But now I realize that that is why my ear canals were itching after I had some. I am experimenting and recently made my own mustard using lemon juice instead of vinegar.

    • martita says:

      thank you for your words Ellen! :-)

  2. Lauren says:

    What's with Michelle? We don't need another bold, white-spiky haired person, though from her first episode on TV (hint: shellfish and wine) I can't wait to see what her SHOW would be like if she won.

  3. Lauren says:

    For some reason, my server won't let me watch the videos. whenever i try, the website always says that it may have been eaten by the server. What the heck is that all about?

  4. Jetta says:

    I'm a little sad to see Josh go, just because I would have loved to see a show with Asian influence on F.N. - I was so excited to see a Sushi chef among this years contestants as I am in the process of learning how to make Sushi myself. . It's too bad he didn't go from that POV from the start and leave the rock star persona at the door.

    I am not at all liking the nastiness of Alton and Gaida, I don't know if it was intentional or not but she did seem to be trying to intimidate Michelle - maybe it was just the edit? Gotta love how the preview before the break made it look like it was Alex who was staring at her though, only to find out it was Gaida. Michelle still grosses me out though, she just seems to look sloppier and sloppier every week.

  5. Lauren says:

    Hey Food Fan, how about Martita? She has good food, isn't loud, has a lovely personality, and if given the chance, and can teach you some really great things about Mexican food.

    • Food Fan says:

      How nice! Thank you Lauren. For wanting my opinion. :)
      I'm just a guy (50+) who has been watching for years, like many of you.

      It is still early. And people will need more than 1 or 2 "hot" nights to win this.
      I will have to more to say after the next show is aired. Who I like, and why.
      Even then, its possible it may change later on.
      Or, people may be very consistently great. Anything can happen.
      I dont expect anyone to be perfect every time. No one is. Not even the Iron Chefs. But everyone will need much more good performances than bad.
      I will say this:
      Martita's video was a joy to watch! I liked the part where she 1st meets Giada.
      I highly recommend all of us watching everyone's videos.
      Martita has made some good food. And nothing about her has annoyed me.
      In fairness, there are some others I am also impressed with. At least 3 or 4.
      But I think Martita is most definitely a serious contender!

      Since the whole purpose of these blogs is to give opinions, i will offer this bit of advice/opinion as a viewer to ALL contestants:
      When a mentor of judge tells you they wanna see more of something from you, do it. BUT---dont go totally wild and off-the-charts to the other extreme about it. I would suggest, try increasing whatever it is 35-40% more. My point is, if something is good, it doesnt mean 6 times more is even better. If someone likes yer energy, dont start talking too fast thinking it will be better. Do whats worked so far.
      When you do well and have a great night, enjoy it. Be happy. You have a right to let it give you more confidence and hope--but--dont start acting like its in-the-bag and you've won it. Trust me--you "DONT wanna tempt the Gods." I've seen this happen before.
      Still, dont start acting like yer paranoid about going home, either. False humility isnt good either. Just keep striving to do one excellent job after another. Make the most of each challenge.
      If someone likes yer easy-goingness, dont become ssooo laid-back that yer dull.
      Informal on TV (in my opinion) is better than scripted. If I look at any of you on TV and its relaxed as if I were in your living room and you're in the kitchen telling me about what you're making...thats good. I can watch anyone like that if they're a great cook.
      Best wishes to everyone. Do yer best--and show us what you can do!

      • Guest says:

        I know my opinion wasn't asked, but I'm going to chime in anyway. I won't to watch a show based on Mexican cuisine. I'll ocassionally eat it, but not enough to want to cook it myself. I certainly won't put a mexican spin on an italian dish, for instance. This is just my opinion, but there's a viewer lost if she gets it. I guess it goes back to POV, but I want to watch someone more versatile.

        • Vinny says:

          That's why it's called an opinion.....:-P

          I for one would love to see her in her own show!! Martita is awesome man!! Plus, ultimately, I am sure the format of the show they get will be the network's decision.

  6. Suzy says:

    I'm not clear about something Aarti - are the contestants all living together, and are they allowed contact with their families?

  7. Rueben says:

    I think Yvan will be eliminated Sunday. He's been posting on here just like Josh did the week before he was eliminated.

  8. Ellen says:

    Oh, okay. Who's your #1 pick? Other than Martita for me, the next on the list is Yvan.

  9. Lauren says:

    Thanks for being nice about your opinion, Food Fan. The food critics could really use a guy like you.

    • Food Fan says:

      Thank you.
      (Hmm. I could always use a better-paying job)....lol. couldn't resist.
      But I'm glad we can all give our opinions here. :)

  10. Ellen says:

    Just to let people know who I'm rooting for my #1 is Martita. #2 Yvan. #3 Emily #4 Ippy #5....the guy who had pickles (for the life of me i cannot remember what his name is.) I want to say Justin, but that's not it.