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. JLF says:

    I am still in Emily's corner in spite of a dip in her presentation skills this week. I agree that she should back off on her "retro-rad" slogan, but in fairness to her, she may be getting instructions/feedback from AB or the judges to keep it up to emphasize her POV. Bad advice, but she may feel she has to do it to survive the cuts.
    I would rather see her focus on the concept of "back to basics", which she demonstrated so beautifully in both of her challenges. First, showing how quick and easy it can be to do your own canning (I've recently started doing fresh fruits and preserves with farmers market produce), and then pulling out the old pressure cooker and showing how it can make a long-cooking meal easy and quick. I would watch that show for the hints on making the old new again.

    • Jerilee says:

      I am convinced Elily's problem was the fault of Martie eating up presentation time with her babble. Emily did good considering she had to cut her presentation short. She did have too many retro-rads. Great tip are always welcome. I haven't thought of my pressure cooker for years. I'm gonna fet a new one to use. Would be so time saving!!! Ina already has something like back to basics. Canning really is easy, just a bit time consuming. I'm rooting for Emily.

  2. Getinmybelly says:

    Kudos to the FNS editing team for creatively building up what looked like a Martie sendoff then dishing out the "surprise ending" that was Judson's farewell. One has to wonder how much of that is just the show's director at work: Alton's hugging Martie (was it goodbye or congrats??) and the repeated head shots of Martie whining about how difficult everything is. Not to mention Judson's epiphany - a viable and compelling POV, only to be eliminated just as he found it. All the elements of a soap opera - it definitely keeps the show interesting, keeps the ratings up, and keeps the discussions here flowing.

  3. BrooklynForever says:

    To all you Justin-haters out there - who cares if anyone will cook or eat what he makes on tv? He is one of the most entertaining characters FN has seen in a long while. FN evolved their strategy a long time ago - it's "food as entertainment" - instructional cooking shows are relegated to daytime programming and the Cooking Channel. Prime time belongs to Guy "Money" Fieri, Sir Ted Allen, HRH Chef Robert Irvine and the delicious madness that is Sweet Genius.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      I've read nearly all of the posts in this thread (weather's been lousy here, what can I say) and while justin's not everyone's cup of camomile-with-honey, the overall sentiment toward him runs much more favorable than otherwise. Even if they don't find his dishes appealling to them personally, many people like his offbeat humor and/or praise his ability to go outside of the box in a culinary sense. I haven't seen a single post that comes anywhere near "hate" toward Justin.

      • BrooklynForever says:

        Multiple posts say they would never cook his food. Many find him "weird", out of the box, or can't get over his red lips. I've seen posts describing him as monotone or boring. He's in the middle of the voting chart so people are split - like Bob said you either love him or will switch channels when he's on. Don't take "hate" literally, but a good number of posters don't get him.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          I suppose I don't consider 'out of the box' to be a negative thing, but I do consider the use of 'hater' to be a strong, overly confrontational word when used toward total strangers, hence my strong reaction. I did forget about the 'red lips' comments of the early episode threads, must have dismissed them with an eyeroll at the time. Maybe people are over that kind of petty nit-picking by now and put more stock into what these contestants can do than how camera cosmetics-or lack thereof- affect their "beauty". Also, I'd meant to add that I am totally with you on Sweet Genius - and that RBI would get a kick out of this kid for sure!

        • Food Fan says:

          Most everyone on here has, and says, things that they dont like about lots of the candidates. I've said good-n-bad about everybody. We are all expressing our impressions/opinions.
          Besides Justin, people criticize Martie, Nikki and many others. That doesn't make it hate. Justin is not the only one who has received criticism.

    • vert2013 says:

      Looking at the menu at his restaurant in Brooklyn, Justin does do outside the box food. But I think he can also do food for the masses. If you think about it, he's going at it pretty smart. Whether you like him or not, people are talking about him and that's what you need on this show...to be memorable.

  4. Duke II says:

    Like many others I can't believe that Marti survived another week - especially after penalizing Emily by using so much time (to say nothing worthwhile). As to the new format, I really enjoying the mentoring by Alton and Bobby (is it just me or is Giada much more a cheerleader than a mentor?).

  5. agodlyhomemaker says:

    Martie is a great lady I'm sure but like someone said , she brings nothing new to the line-up of shows. And she gives too much info at once, related or not. Judson has such a wonderful story that needs to be shared. He could be someone who helps others get in shape and get healthy! I applaud him for his journey and hope to see more of him soon!

  6. Addys says:

    So sad and shocked to see Judson go. So what if it's taken him awhile to share his true inner self and 'flavorful' POV, He told Alton (and us) that it brings back painful memories. Can we all not relate at some level, with some demon from the past (weight, awkward adolescence/teens, bullies) in some way feeling like less than God created us to be? I was so disappointed because I was looking forward to start learning from him about healthy flavor options. Nothing against Ippy but did you see his awful presentation? He stumbled awkwardly in his delivery, had a mouthful of food (very unappealing). No amount of poetic food descriptions could overcome that for me. Yuck! I hate seeing people's food in their mouths. Judson has class. I don't think he's a BS artist as Suzie clearly inferred. I think he was trying to find his voice. It's there and such a shame we won't hear it.

    As for Martie, yes, she's nice and comfortable in front of the camera but can you imagine how much it will cost the network in production costs to edit, edit, edit, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse so she can speak consisely? I think Alton may lose his mind mentoring her to help her streamline her delivery. I don't find her memorable in a positive way.

    By contrast I am fascinated by Justin. I find myself looking forward to watching him to see how he's going to surprise me. He's entertaining on many fronts and boy can that boy cook! Mostly I do enjoy his intellect as I do Alton's. It's like watching a father-son team. Love his confident style and brainiac chef talent.

    What can I say about Martita? Looove her! She makes me want to get to know her and go out for cafe con leche or have her over for a dinner she taught me to make. She's fun and beautiful! I love being in her company. It doesn't hurt that her hair is a longer version of mine. So she makes me like my hair more too:)

    • JLF says:

      I don't see Marti being "nice and comfortable in front of the camera." It's painful how she just rambles on and on, not just in her practice runs (which really are horrible), but even her best shots are not comfortable and certainly not informative. Blathering on about the Amish and the Germans and cream cheese, and here's a mushroom? Bob Tuschman is nuts when he says she is the most natural in front of the camera.

      • jnewman says:

        I would really like Bob and Susie to explain just what they like about Martie! Her "stories" are just pointless ramblings.

  7. Mosie says:

    If these contestants are competing for the chance to become a food network star, then I can't understand how Marti is still around. She is a complete yawn. She talks too much, does not listen to advice, and from what I can see is a dime a dozen cook. Quite frankly, anyone who watches this season, would never watch her show. All we have seen from her is a lot of negativity (her talking about her age, not leaving enough time for her team mates with Guy, and her countless overly dramatic rehearsals for the producer's challenges). Keeping that in mind, Judson was clearly the better option.

    I am not saying that he should win the whole competition, but I would have enjoyed seeing how he progressed. I actually found I was entertained watching him. I am a young person that is trying to lose weight, and I could use a lot of the tips he was giving. I completely disagree with the "BS artist" statement made in this episode. If anyone comes off fake and unsure it is Marti.

    The producers need to start thinking about what American wants to, or has to see on the network. If they continue to keep Marti, I don't continue watching or taking the judgments made by the producers seriously.

    • jnewman says:

      Totally agree about Martie! She's awful! Give me a break! Philadelphia brand cream cheese represents PA? Does she think French's mustard represents France!

  8. Anastasia says:

    Between Judson and Martie I was a bit surprised it was Judson who was let go this week. Martie is pretty annoying. One week she rambles on and on about how old she is, if she thinks she's so old why bother to put herself out there in the first place. This week she insulted a whole state with her reaction to her dart having landed in Pennsylvania. Then she wanders around lost trying to find something to cook, stuffs a mushroom and can't even talk about it, yet she stays. Granted, Judson has been struggling to find his place, but this week his whole weight loss journey came out as what could have been a great POV for him going forward. I am enjoying the show this season, but honestly think the judges missed the mark on this elimination.

  9. Dr. K says:

    Although martie seems like a nice person, sending Judson home was a terrible mistake. He has so much to offer so many people. We are an obese nation, and it's not getting any better. We could have used his real life proven expertise

  10. MsT in the south says:

    I have been reading that there is an overwhelming consent that Marti needs to go HOME. she is not tv material. and she certainly can't cook. she knows it too. she is a fake. they should not have been so hard on Judson when they are all making mistakes of some type. He is an inspiration to others. Judson if you are reading this keep your head to the sky and you will go very far in your cooking/personal life.