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. Meg says:

    I'm not seeing many positive comments about Martita, yet according to the online poll, she's way in the lead. What's up with that?

    • suzy says:

      I stopped voting last week or so, when I realized that one could never get ahead of Martitia. She must have an army voting, who are not necessarily bloggers.

    • Jerilee says:

      People are voting but not talking. I don't like the way the voting is set up. 10 votes per day, really? Voting can be exponential, with nobody saying anything!!! One person voting can increase voting 10fold, and each of those the same, so it really isn't true. Those exponent voters have no interest in voicing their opinion, they are voting just because their friend told them to. Make any sense?

      • Food Fan says:

        Yes. in fact it makes all too much sense, unfortunately.
        I think this Blog is far more "the real deal" than the fan vote.
        If you went by the fan vote, then why isnt Martie further down in it?
        If you went by the fan vote, why is Nikki on the vbottom when she's outperforming others?
        And how does someone keep staying ahead in a fan vote when there are more thumbs downs in the posts and negative comments? It doesnt make sense---unless--there is a whole bunch of exponent voters who dont write but just keep voting and voting.
        I have a feeling we may yet see some serious upsets in this race. Probably not tomorrow/Sunday....but soon after.

    • jnewman says:

      I'm also wondering about Martita! I think Marcela/ Mexican Made Easy is great for learning about Mexican cooking, so I don't see what Martita could contribute.

  2. deb says:


    • Gloria says:

      YES YES YES, please find a spot for Judson, we are dying to hear his story. I hope the network gets it right this time. They have already made a mistake getting rid of him.

  3. suzy says:

    As I kiss this blog goodbye, and prepare to move on to the new one tonight, I must say, after watching the Guy show repeat today, Justin is a rather rude, smart a** as shown by his comments about Nebraskans eating carbs and the size of the dish he was going to serve. No wonder Alton chose him - a kindred soul.

  4. Jerilee says:

    Was disappointed, but not surprised, at Linkie's departure. FN is following, and sticking to, a pattern of elimination. Too bad.

    • FanFare57 says:

      The pattern is pretty obvious. So, now - we'll just have to watch Marti win her ticket home next time because the teams are even - steven again.

  5. Grandma Joyce says:

    Linkie, we will miss you. Others who should have gone home had a lucky break. I'm sorry it was not yours. Best in life to you. Other contestants I have been concerned about, but not so with you. You will continue to shine. Best to you!

  6. The Big Kid says:

    I just saw the 5th episode and I am PISSED... Why did Judson get booted? Seriously, the guy was amazing in the kitchen, had a GREAT smile and was personable. I just hope that the FN brings him back because I am struggling with weight issues and I need to hear his stories and tips. He is all about flavor, which happens to be healthy... This is what the network needs. I am just so down right now.

    • Will-I-Am-NOT says:

      Agreed! Bring back the swag and the bow-ties

    • Aggie says:

      I also just caught up and was in tears listening to Judson's story. How dare that lady look him in his eyes and call him a BS artist. She must have no clue what its like to go through this struggle. I looked through that TV screen and felt his emotion, passion and genuine nature. So upset by this decision.

  7. Sarah Mendoza says:

    Martie vs. Judson, you would think would be a no brainer... NOPE.. again the food network makes the totally wrong decision. Judson is a star in my opinion and I am his biggest fan. I can respect anyone who wholeheartedly shares the skeletons in their closet and uses that to inspire others. How dare that lady call him a BS artist. Errrrrrrrr, now that right there is enough to get me to stop tuning in.

    I love Linkie's personality she is such a sweetheart.

    Not on the Yvan and Michelle train though... Ill pass on them.

  8. Jay2Day says:

    I am just catching up on the episodes and all I have to say is how dare they get rid of my boy Judson. He represents my hometown of Chicago and he is one of the nicest people I know. I don't know many people that have the following he has in Chicago. You are missing out on greatness food network star.

  9. Food Network Junkie says:

    I have watched next food network star since the 1st season and have seen only 1 contestant successfully rain supreme (GUY) ... I actually thought Judson Allen had what is took to be someone that would command a dominant presence on the network, specifically after hearing his personal weight loss story. I really hope they rethink canning him. I know talent (just like susie) and he has "IT". I thought Martie had a great spirit, but she did not own it and was all over the place.

  10. Lisa 2 says:

    I needed a stiff drink after this episode... Judson Allen going on; I am in disbelief.