Aarti’s After Party: Getting to Know You

by in Food Network Star, June 10, 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.

We’re five weeks in, and there are only 10 contestants left. With this large a group, it’s hard to get to know anyone on a deeper level, and that seems to have been the theme of this week’s episode. Cue the show tunes! "Getting to know you, getting to know all about yooooooooou … "!

When asked, "who are you?" it seemed that most everyone’s inclination was to talk about his or her family. Whether it was Michele’s mom’s meatball recipe or Judson talking about his family’s struggle with weight, there’s something about talking about your family that instantly connects you with people, perhaps because, for the most part, everyone has one.

Team Bobby

When Michele talked about her mom, Phyllis, her character seemed to round out a little. She transformed from a hard-nosed whatever-it-takes chef to a daughter, an Italian daughter, who watched her mother carefully as she soaked bread in milk to make meatballs. It felt like I’d just put on a pair of 3-D glasses at the movie theater.

But, is anyone wondering whether the family stories are becoming a bit of a gimmick? When they come up authentically, they’re magic; I already mentioned Michele, but I’m also thinking of Malcolm here, whose face lit up at even the mention of his kids. Listen, I’ve told my fair share of family stories on my show, so I’m the pot calling the kettle black here, but perhaps it’s because I treasure these stories so much that I bristle at even the whisper of gimmickry.

If your family really is the reason why you cook the way you do, then great! But if not, let’s dig deeper and find out what makes you tick. That’s why my ears really perked up when people dodged the more predictable road and instead talked about their personal struggles. When Linkie talked about how, upon arriving in Mississippi, she was told to lose her gorgeous South African lilt, I got a lump in my throat. That’s tantamount to being told, “You’re not good enough the way you are.” And it can leave a deep, painful mark. (I also loved the moment when Giada talked about her similar experience and showed Linkie that it’s possible to succeed even with that painful mark on your heart.)

I loved hearing about Judson’s weight-loss battle. It told us so much about his character – that here was a young man who bucked nature/nurture and decided to change his life by losing weight. Losing 115 pounds is no joke. It takes perseverance, strength of character and, of most interest to the porker writing this blog, creativity in the kitchen to satisfy those cravings in a healthful fashion. I’m sad he left before he got to share all the tricks he picked up along the way.

To that end, there are still some characters whose fleshed-out stories I’m missing. While you all know that I’m a big fan of Emily and Justin, I’m starting to reach for my 3-D glasses, as it were. Why is Emily such a fan of the '50s? When did she start marinating in that era? And Justin: Were you always a science geek? Were you always a rebel? Why do you cook? It strikes me that the latter question is probably the one we’re always seeking an answer to from these contestants. It’s not just about what do you cook, but why?


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Comments (505)

  1. CShep51 says:

    They should have dumped Martie instead of Judson. They (Bob and Suzie) really missed a great opportunity to assist so many of us who are trying to lose weight. Martie is not offering anything new.

    • ALStewart says:

      Agree with you completely!

    • Robert Ostrowski says:

      I DEFINITELY agree that Martie should have been sent home. I found her performance tonight to be at best marginal. For the record, she admitted she was never in PA before and didn't have a CLUE about its authentic, locally popular cuisines or places to go for a unique PA-style culinary experience!! I saw how she felt about her performance and it made me feel sad to watch her struggle so much to succeed. I am deeply shocked and saddened to see Judson go home. He may wind up being on the Cooking Channel some day for all I know.

    • Donna says:

      I totally agree with you.

    • rucrazy says:

      Amen!!!!! You hit it right on the mark! What were they thinking? Do they even know their viewers?

    • Ry33 says:

      I'm not exactly disagreeing with you. But Judson's exit was inevitable. It was his 3rd time up for elimination. I'll be very surprised if Martie survives the next 2 or 3 episodes.

    • JerseyGirl567 says:

      Totally agree. Martie seems like a very nice person, but she talks on and on and doesn't really say much! I was really shocked when they sent Judson home, though this was his third(?) time in the pitch room. I loved his POV and I'd much rather watch him than Martie.

    • jnewman says:

      YES, Martie is downright annoying!

    • FanFare57 says:

      I completely agree with you. Judson's new found POV was something unexpected. He could have improved his delivery; if he was given umpteen rehearsals as the hillbilly housewife (Martie) was. I'm so over her "sittin' by the fire, hearin' stories, an' singin' and wittlin' as a stew is a cookin'"... She seems unprepared, vacuous and downright dowdy.

    • Violet says:

      Does it really matter whether it's Judson or Martie's departure this week either way they both will be shown the exit door, and I don't mean to sound curt it's just that either you have what it takes to take on a monumental job such as this or you do not. One key fact is that Judson is walking away having received an opportunity to discover more about himself as a thinner person. Real soul searching took place during this competitive journey that will probably become more valuable to him than a cooking show. It's just a misfortune because a candidate for the next FNS needs to know who they are when walking through the entry door which couldn't be made any clearer by the show execs. and Judson was still reaching from within.

    • Food Network Junkie says:

      They really did miss out on a major STAR! I think it was evident SUSIE that Judson would have yielded you an Return On Investment.

    • Mike Smith says:

      Bob and Susie will realize what the loss when they eliminated Judson as soon as he is picked up by a major network. They better get it together, and quick

    • Sarren Page says:

      OMG! This episode was a total disaster! Judson goes home, WTH. I am furious with the decision of the network. IM DONE

  2. gumbygirl says:

    How many more times is Linkie going to make dessert and not cook anything? It's getting ridiculous. And Martie needs to go! I'm having trouble sticking with this season, and it's barely started.

    • JLF says:

      Once again Giada told her to make a dessert. Can't blame Linkie for that. An besides, if her show would be a baking show, doing her special desserts would be relevant. I don't have a problem with that.

    • Wgirl98 says:

      I think there is a lack of dessert shows on the network. If that is Linkie's POV, then she is doing what she needs to do. Besides, Giada said they need dessert and told her to do it. Susie LOVED her cookie!

      • TK196 says:

        i dont have a problem with her making desserts if that is her niche or pov but if it looks like something i have seen at wamart or the local grocery stores bakery i dont think it does her justice to do stuff seen alredy. come on ppl. how many times during football sesaon have we seen that ball design before on doughnuts cookies and cupcakes. if the judges like it so be it, we cant taste it thouhg.

        • Guest says:

          The cookie that Linkie made fit the occasion. If you're interested to see if she can step up to the plate as far as cakes and deserts is concerned, google Linkie Cakes. You will be amazed to see what that girl can do.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Yep I agree with you and JLF, Giada is playing this game smart and steering her peeps to their strong suits. That said, although there are many - too many - dessert and sweets-themed shows on FN, almost all of them are contests or 'eating around' type of shows (Kid in a Candy Store, Best Thing I Ever Ate, etc). While Paula, Ina, Sandra Lee and a few others include some kind of dessert as part of their menus, they are usually 'quickies' and I don't believe there are any shows exclusively devoted to real baking.

      • Deanna says:

        And yet they cancelled "Dessert First". And the "Cupcake Wars" rage on. Decide what you want. A healthy cooking show, or a dessert show. neither do well on FN, because most people aren't so dessert obsessed that they need a healthy cooking show for counterbalance. I couldn't watch a show that was nothing but sweets. Paula makes a dessert every week anyway.

    • M888 says:

      Giada told her to make a dessert! Sure, Linkie enjoys making desserts and that's her POV, but Giada did steer her toward making the cookies!

    • marci says:

      i know right its all she does she should have more talent

  3. Ailson says:

    I really feel that the judges made a HUGE mistake tonight when they chose to send Judson home rather than Martie.

    I would prefer to watch Judson and learn how to improve the healthfulness of my cooking through his lessons. Judson could make a difference for millions of people with his journey and his knowledge of cooking. He is easy to relate to and since he found his voice and could embrace it more effectively, he could touch the hearts of many who feel unappreciated and unable to make the changes on their own. He could have been a beacon for them.

    Martie is not easy to watch or listen to. She is hard to relate to due to her rambling speech patterns and I take offense to her constant referencing of age!

    This decision makes me sad and I almost do not want to see the choices made with the other contestants.

    • Terri says:

      I have never posted a comment before but I was very upset that Judson was let go tonight. He had a POV I could relate to and I was very interested in what he had to teach us about flavorful healthy cooking. I want to hear about his authentic drive to cook healthy and tasty food so he/we learn new eating habits. I have no interest in any of the other POV on Team Alton or any of the other teams. They all seem like another gimmick to get a chance at fame.
      Very sad.

      • Sue says:

        Don't forget - they already have Hungry Girl for flavorful low fat low cal cooking. They probably did not want another.

      • FunSized says:

        I agree with everything you said except that "there is nothing else interesting on Team Alton" HAve you even SEEN ? that dude has crazy cool funky ideas!!! :D

      • Violet says:

        I disagree because Emily is down to earth = relatable. She definitely expresses a passion for her craft. I feel that a person would be able to learn from her and have fun while doing it. I do not get the sense that I'll have to drive all around just to try and locate "unusual" ingredients. Emily can turn basic into a bounty! As for talented Justin, since his vision is to the extreme, I think a different format other than a FN "cooking" show would benefit him and his viewers. Although facinating, I've had no desire to attempt any of Justin's "creations" thus far, they just don't appeal to my palate. He is genuinely gifted!

    • Food Fan says:

      Ailson, I think yer right.
      I like to see everyone have a good chance at this, and even after last week's episode, I allowed for the possibility that "hey, anyone can have a bad night. Let's see if she learns from it."--and wanted to see if she picked things up this week. She didnt. In fact, she seemed even worse.
      I do agree with the Judges that, yes, her and Judson are the two who deserved to be on the bottom this time. Frankly, considering all the candidates, i think both Judson & Martie should go. But I woulda sent Martie home 1st.

    • Katie says:

      You're right! Listening to Marti is like "nails on a chalkboard". You just want it over and done with asap! Plus, NONE of her food has impressed me. Don't know why she's still there. I preferred watching Judson, too, and wish we could've found out how he lost all that weight and how to cook meals to keep it off but boy-oh-boy, all that crying! Jeesh!

    • Lolli8 says:

      I completely agree. I definitely think that the wrong decision was made last night. Martie is not that easy to follow especially when she goes on and on about things that are not very interesting.

    • Sheri S says:

      Once more Martie beat out a more interesting cook. I really liked the format of the previous years much better than this year's team competitions.

    • TV for Sport says:

      When I heard his story, I was immediately captivated. I have 250 lbs to loose, and frankly I need help. None of those weight watchers and stuff work for me. I need Flavorful healthy food.

  4. RBj says:

    Bad move letting Judson go. He obviously has the ability to learn and so grow into the star the network is looking for. Miss Martie is not an answer to any positive growth in this process.

    • Laurie says:

      I agree totally with you. I wanted Martie to go from the start. No offence to her I just liked the others better.

  5. Carla says:

    Once again a huge mistake by the judges, Martie offers nothing more than babble and cooking from any recipe posted on food network. Judson had a story that should have been developed, who doesn;t want to loose pounds and eat great food, that keeps me waching. Babbling from Martie no thanks just go ahead and air her program right after the "sandwich king". Really if you don't get it right this season just change the name to "shoulda, coulda, woulda".

  6. Alfredo says:

    I'm shocked they kept Martie. She bores me. Judson isn't the best, but with his new POV I saw promise in him. And something I could learn from and enjoy. Really a mistake. Justin and Emily are going to be around a long time I think they are great. Next time team Alton is up for elimination, it will be a no brainer- it better be anyway!!

    • Michele says:

      It WAS Judson's time to go last night...and frankly, Martie should have been gone weeks ago....for this show to maintain any type of legitimacy, Martie must go next week. Her recipes have no "wowed" any of the judges and her complete insensitivity tby "hogging" Ellen's presentation time was appalling.

      Martie is no team player.

      • Ry33 says:

        Amen, Emily should've, somehow, been safe last night. It is NOT her fault Martie chewed up the clock. As someone pointed out, Emily did her best with the time she had. I think it was Susie. Correct me if I'm wrong.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          There was no way Justin or Emily were going home last night, even with Justin's awkward pause and Emily being rushed. Bob even said he was impressed with how Emily handled the situation. IMO it's high time that weak contestants stop skimming by on their strong teammates' coattails and having an entire 'Loser' team where they all have to face off against each other (as though it's an individual competition, imagine that!), finally remedied that..

    • FanFare57 says:

      I agree with you. I noticed Alton's grimaces and winces throughout the show. (I sincerely thought his head was going to explode when his team was chosen to be in the firing squad. He really didn't give a damn about Judson and left him to twist in the wind. Whereas, he seemed to coddle Matronly Martie by giving her more rehearsal time for her presentation. In the end, Alton has placed his money on the wrong nag. Clearly, Martie has little to offer than some dull drawn out stories with poor food in the background.

      • Jerilee says:

        Perhaps he did that to convince himself she really just doesnt get it. (I know I'm being generous). Why else would hgive her so many chances. That mushroom "thing" she made to represent Philadelphia, really? Even she admitted she didn't know what she was doing.

        • FanFare57 says:

          Yes, you are being more kind than I am. That's nice of you. I agree that her stuffed mushroom concoction was unappealing (& I adore mushrooms in any form). As though it seems impossible, I got the vibe that Alton may have a little crush on Martie. They are like two lonely hearts standing around at the country dance looking for a connection.

          • Suzy says:

            Crush?? No way. Alton is just doing damage control for being such a bully to her when he told her to shut up a few shows back. So if we see them hugging maybe we'll all go, "Aaawww..isn't that sweet...Alton really ISN'T a verbally abusive male."

      • Violet says:

        FanFare57, Alton did support Judson to the execs in the pitch room where it counts. He related his similar childhood experience with Judson's to try and bring the exec's thinking around. I felt most compassionately!

  7. Dionne says:

    So upset with tonight's elimination. We are struggling in this country w weight and Judson has a lot to add. Marty provides nothing and can easily blend in. The judges made a huge mistake and seem to not truly empathethize or relate w other ppl. Judson' s weight battle was ersonal and so what it took a few weeks for him to have that POV - thats not being a BS artist and the judge seem to be more full of BS. America needed that POV and you have NO ONE on FN that represents that and help can help so many struggling with weight. some of the ppl you have on FN come off so unbelievable such as Giada. I cannot e en rally watch her show.

    • Sandy says:

      I agree that Martie' should have gone home. She keeps saying "ok" when they instruct her but to no avail. I don't think Justin should stay either. He's another "Sandwich King" type and I don't see him being someone to interest the public, but then again, the judges don't really care what we think. They. haven't picked a real winner from the last few seasons

      • Food Fan says:

        I just dont see what people see in Justin. Serving Fish-Bones?? If I were 30 years younger I'd be saying: "Duuuude! Are you totally freakin' kidding me?! nooo Way!"
        I *do* grant that Justin has imagination and is "outta the box"---but I see 3 problems:
        1. He doesnt smile. His eyes look dead and he's monotone (those all go together). Susie F. said he needs more warmth.
        2. While his dishes are creative, probably not one in 200 viewers will ever even atttempt to make/cook/do what he has created. (i know some of his admirers may say who am I to presume what others might do, but c'mooonnnn...you know and I know it. what are the odds? which leads me to my next point:
        3. Original is one thing. Weird--is another.
        (Fish bones. Yeah. right.) and so...watching him is, to me, sorta like watching do a magic-trick or card trick. Nice to see a time or two, but not anything I'll ever bother with, and since it isnt relevant to my everyday or cooking Life, its just ..well, irrelevant. And because of that--I lose interest. He mighta got away with Fish bones cuz of a Halloween or kid theme, but thats it.

        • Ralph says:

          Justin is brilliant. The judges don't expect that everyone in the audience will "get it". No one else thinks like he does, regardless of whether you will cook it or eat it, his thought process is fascinating.

        • FunSized says:

          How many shows on food network do i actually watch and make everything they demo??? Yeah thats what i thought. I find Justin entertaining and even if you dont end up cooking the food it csn inspire you( or at least it inspires me) to be imaginative in the kitchen instead of following the same old same old traditions. i try to get my family to let me try new things like what Justin does all the time!!! He's a fresh and cool new POV FN needs!!

        • Danielle says:

          I've watched FN for many years and almost never actually cook what they show. I actually don't like to cook but I love to watch other people be creative with food. And I know that I may be in the minority but I'm soooooo sick of fake smiles. I don't like it when people smile all the time. If it's real I love it; but almost every smile on television is canned. It's annoying.

    • Food Network Junkie says:

      I totally agree with you! I have been battling weight issues for years and to finally know that I can eat healthier with flavorful interesting foods... I am sold! I pray the food network gives this kid an opportunity to share his gifts with the world. To hold him back would be so selfish and a POOR BUSINESS MOVE.

  8. Grandma Joyce says:

    Aarti, no one writes from the heart like you do. Food Network, don't let her slip away.
    Martie should have gone hone tonight. Judson, those who know you personally told us of the great person you are. Best wishes.

    • Elderleigh says:

      Marti needs to be gone - in fact she should have left a week or two ago. I don't care for her ramblings and will not watch her show.

  9. JLF says:

    I am still picking my jaw up off the ground over Marti being safe. Judson may be somewhat awkward but is finding his way, while Marti is just plain painful to watch and has shown herself to be unteachable about her time management on camera. She put Emily in a terrible position in the main challenge by not knowing how to shut her mouth. She blathers on about irrelevancies and I never learn anything substantial about her food.

    • JerseyGirl567 says:

      All I would really like to say is DITTO, DITTO! I totally agree.....Judson has a much better chance to improve etc than Martie. And I was angry at how she totally screwed Emily by using about half of Emily's time!

    • FunSized says:

      You could even argue that half the reason Team Alton was stuck in the bottom was BECAUSE of Marti!

  10. Dorothy says:

    Martie is to old to cook or make positive cha nges to anyones cooking/ eating habits, just ask her, that has been her consistent message. Judson atleast had a distination with his food/cooking. Once again "HUGE" mistake, Bob and Suzie stop thinking about the $$$$$$$ and think about the heart and soul of your network. You will make much more $$$$$$ if you put the heart and soul before the $$$$$. Babble from Martie will get you replaced!!!!!

    • JLF says:

      How do $$$$$ come into this? Do you see something in saving Marti that is financially beneficial to FN?

    • maria says:

      You are never toooooo old to cook. My grandmother was a fabulos cook and story teller until the day she died. It is all in ther persona and Marti is awful. They think she is another Paula Dean--no way-Susie is not a good judge - in cup cake wars -she selected the winner when he left flour out of his cup-cake and the other contestent won every time. At least Susie is consistent she does not see what the public sees.

    • MoHub says:

      Dorothy: It's attitudes like yours that make Martie insecure about her age. While I agree that she, rather than Judson, should have gone last night, I'd have felt the same way if she were 32 rather than 52.

      I'm a fair amount older than Martie, and I don't feel that that impedes my ability to learn.