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?


Similar Posts

A Letter to Lenny, from the Rebel

Dear Lenny, Out of all the seasons of Food Network Star, I can think of only one other winner who has a personality as big as yours. Congratulations a...

Comments (505)

  1. Beverly Williams says:

    Personally, I don't understand why you changed the original format of the show. It is more about Bobby, Giada, and Alton rather than getting to know the contestants. I've been watching the channel from the beginning and remember the difficult times these same stars had when they started out. Now, you want these people to be great at everything immediately! First of all, they should show you their cooking skills, then the personality will begin to show. I sincerely enjoy watching the stars on their own shows - let this be about new talent.

  2. Kathy says:

    I agree that Marty needed to go!! I cannot stand the way she talks and never says anything. It is boring. Although Judson had a good video, I really do not think he has what it takes to be the next Food Network Star--so I think they should gave BOTH been eliminated and I cannot wait until Marty is.

    • Food Network Junkie says:

      I totally disagree Kathy, Judson stood out over the other contestants... he and Emily were my favorites. Both had Star potential. With a smile like his, it surely goes a long way. He is smart, handsome and can cook! I thought he presented very well on camera.

  3. Pat Matons says:

    I do not like the show at all this season.go back to the old format,who cares about the team leaders they have their own shows.None of these people are good enough for their own show.I will no longer watch.

  4. Cherry says:

    Martita was not sarcastic. PUHLEASE. Utter nonsense. She merely made a harmless comment. Lighten up folks.

  5. Dinner for One says:

    I keep noticing that there are comments from "Martita" on here. Hmmm.....First of all, is it really Martita commenting or someone commenting under her name? If it really is Martita, then are all of the contestants allowed equal access? Personally, I don't think the contestants should be allowed to comment on here while the show is in production. To me this is a forum for fans. That is my opinion.

    • MoHub says:

      Nikki has been commenting as well. I would have thought the contestants would be prohibited from posting while the show is running—or at least not posting until their eliminations have aired.

  6. Dinner for One says:

    I keep noticing that there are comments from "Martita" on here. Hmmm.....First of all, is it really Martita commenting or someone commenting under her name? If it really is Martita, then are all of the contestants allowed equal access? I don't see comments from the other contestants. Personally, I don't think the contestants should be allowed to comment on here while the show is in production. To me this is a forum for fans. That is my opinion.

    • JLF says:

      Actually several of them have posted.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for articulating succinctly why the chefs should not be posting here: This is a fan forum.

      • ItsANoNo says:

        Thank you Dinner for One. I too find it to be highly inappropriate when the contestants post on here, as well as the family members of the contestants that post. That has no place in the fan forum. The family posts are biased and I think could hurt the contestants. I have seen several comments from Martita, Nikki, Linkie, Linkie's Mother and her sister too and Yvan posts as YvanBoom. The show is no longer filming though. It has been shot months ago. But still it is highly inappropriate like you said.

        • NotaFan says:

          I understand how you might think it is unappropriate, but it is only natural for their family members to be fans also. It is even more natural for their family members to be biased. Just like everybody else on this forum, their family members have their favorite that they would lean towards. Just like everything else though, there is a split opinion as to whether chefs and family members should post. I have seen some other posts, where the posters welcome the insight.

  7. Tonya says:

    What were the judges thinking??? Hey Martie, Paula Deen has your market covered. You should have been eliminated.

  8. guest says:

    i don't now her name,the female judge did seem like she didn't like judson.coming from a person that has struggled with weight most of my life i found what he had to say informative.his dish seemed tasty and amazing,better tha nstuffed mushrooms.i can't believe that martie was picked over judson,not really surprised.rethinking the foodnetwork show.love bobby,alton,and guy,think they are honest and good judges of charcter

  9. marci says:

    eric lee is an awsome cook he should have stayed that dude quit his JOB that he has been working for 10 steps

    • Jerilee says:

      I believe his 11year position was still available to him. When you have a chef that good, for that long, the employer would be a fool not to keep his position available pend outcome of FNS.

  10. diana says:

    I thought Judson was the most relevant show I would watch with most of America battling weight. I would not cook sardines skeletons or weird retro food but I would have watched Judson's every time. I have been looking for a healthy cooking show with someone so inspirational as Judson. Food Network blew it big this time.

    • Weight Watchers says:

      Agreed! Judson's new found POV is the most relevant int todays society. I have been on weight watchers for years and my weight is always up and down. I hope Michelle Obama discovers him for her Let's Move Campaign. This guy has the brightest future out of all of the contestants - Mark My Words.