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. ALStewart says:

    I am so happy to know that i am not the only person to feel that the network made a definite mistake tonight. I understand that I am in no way the network experts, in this season, they have lost touch with what the viewers want and search. Judson, as they said, was on the right track, and he would have continued to improve, but in every instance he taught us how to cook a little more healthy. You can't know someone in a flash, but I would have watched a show with Judson. On the other hand, Martie, as I am sure she is a authentic and nice person, she yields nothing to interest me. I find her annoying. I agree that Linkie, needs to cook something already. Justin is quirky, but I'm not sure I would watch his show......I just not wanton of foods like fried sardine skeletons. So sad, Judson...you will be missed.

    • Guest says:

      I agree that I would like to see more of Judson in future and I truly hope FN can see how he can fill a void. I wish Martie told the live audience that she was unfamiliar with the mushrooms and whatever before , but that she learned about it and want t take the audience with her on her discovery. That would have been more authentic for me, but of cause it is always easier to find the solutions from the sideline.
      I loved Justin's innovation and guts. I would like to see more smile from him. Linkie is into cakes. Giada clearly wanted for her to do deserts.

    • Sheila Miles says:

      I really do hope they bring him back like they do those other competitions. He was so charming and full of life. I watched the 6th episode and it is evident that his presence is missed. He brought a level of sophistication and elegance to the show! I am missing him already

  2. jeanie says:

    Be careful Judson that lady judge is out to get you. She does not like you. But I think you're excellent. I don't know what's her problem, oops we know you need to wear a different color.

    • the4leafclover says:


      Martie, is that you? :D

    • Auntie G says:

      Please tell me you are NOT making some sort of reference to the fact that Judson is African American and that is why he got eliminated!!!!! Granted, I'm sorry to see him go, but have you watched the Food Network lately??? There is great diversity, to its credit. I hope I read your message wrong. But if I didn't, grow up and stop making a race issue where there is none.

  3. PAAmishGirl says:

    Emily isn't the only candidate for whom I'm routing in this season, but it really blows my mind that Marti wasn't punished in any way for blah-blah- blahing away as she always does and completely cutting into Emily's time. She should have been sent packing for that. That's dirty pool, even though that may not have been her intent. I told my husband I wanted her gone BEFORE she so dissed Pennsylvania and our food. Cream cheese stuffed mushrooms? Really? Go home, Marti. If you can't play fair, you don't have anything to teach me or any way to entertain me.

    • JLF says:

      So right about her eating up half of Emily's time - and she was warned about it by Alton before hand. He should have made Marti go last and when her time was up just cut her off. It's this kind of behavior that shows how unteachable Marti is and what a liability she would be to the FN. Why Bob and Susie can't see that is beyond me, but I'm getting increasingly annoyed at the loss two weeks in a row of better contestants while keeping this unwatchable blather mouth.

      • iris45 says:

        JLF, your right last week they sent home the wrong person as well because that guy could really cook.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          But Eric going home wasn't because of anything Marti did (or didn't do). He was in the bottom with Ippy and they both landed there because of their own weak presentations, as members of the teams who didn't win. It was Justin and Emily who were responsible for the success of Alton's team last week, which kept all of them safe...if they hadn't done so well Team Alton would have had to put up someone for elimination, and that likely would have been Judson. Yes Marti was weak but the judges were really put off by Judson's "food plus flavor equals love" nonsense and didn't think much of his bowl 'o fried stuff dish either.

          • JLF says:

            I didn't mean that Eric's elimination was directly due to anything Marti did, but the immunity format did protect Marti who in all probability would have been in the bottom instead of one of the other guys in a level playing field.

      • jnewman says:

        Unwatchable blather mouth! YES!!

    • Food Fan says:

      I commend Emily for doing remarkably well in her presentation with the time she had left. But I wish she really cut back on mentioning retro-rad so much. People were already commenting about about her on this blog before this episode aired, and tonight we heard it more than ever. Bob T is wondering about the genuine-ness of it.

      • JLF says:

        Bob and Susie put the contestants between a rock and a hard place. You'd better have a POV, make it the focus of every challenge, and keep it consistent. But be yourself - don't seem like you're selling us anything. But if you don't give it energy, we won't believe you really want to be here. But too much energy is just fake. Geez - what are these poor folks supposed to think? I had really hoped that the coaches would be able to act as interpreters for their teams to reduce the confusion, but I'm thinking the coaches are just as flumoxed as the contestants at this point. Do you really think Alton thought Marti would stay??

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        This is the first week I had doubts about Emily. I can see what Bob and Susie are concerned about. She did fine with Guy given her time disadvantage (and she got credit for it from Bob), but her elimination video was over-the-top comic actressy. She's walking a fine line between interesting/quirky and silly.

        • LisaS says:

          I agree; I didn't like her video at all. At the same time, if she was listening to Bob's criticism, she should be able to reign that in.

    • Dinner for One says:

      I thought Marti totally dissed PA also. I have never been to PA (that I recall) but I immediately thought Pennsylvania Dutch cooking then immediately thought Amish. She could have made any kind of homey comfort food and tied it into Amish style cooking. I wasn't aware there was a mushroom connection to PA and certainly never would have chosen the mushroom to represent the state of PA. If nothing else she could have made some appetizers as a tribute to the "Dance Moms" who film their show out of Pittsburgh. She completely insulted the New England area demographic.

      • B-Girl says:

        PA is not part of New England.

      • FunSized says:

        I agree! If i was from PA......i would not have been very happy.....but that challenge given to team alton was unfair anyway. It was much more difficult than any other producer challenge before and the ENTIRE team was on the bottom!

      • Violet says:

        New England? NOT!

  4. clj says:

    Judson, really what are you thinking, You spend all this time trying to find these cooks, you find an incredible cook that finally found his path and choose a babling cook that is going nowhere. Sorry Martie but all you can do is talk, talk, talk and cook the basics. I will take Judson southern cooking that finally found some soul and devlop that. Best of luck on taking the babble from nothing to,,,,,,,well nothing. I have little time to watch TV as it is and won't take 30 mins. out of my day to listen to "Cooking with Martie the Rambler/Babler.

  5. PAAmishGirl says:

    P.S...Aarti, I love you (in a culinary sort of way!) and miss Aarti Party...PLEASE COME BACK!

    • MissEllie says:

      Isn't Aarti still on Food Network?? I love Aarti and agree that Judson was unfairly let go!

      • PAAmishGirl says:

        Aarti, while blogging for TNFNS this season, has a 10 episode gig with Melissa D'Arabian on the Cooking Channel called "Drop 5 lbs with Good Housekeeping". But Aarti Party is on hiatus. FN told me to check back in July and they would check again for me. :-(

  6. patrice says:

    Very upset by the elimiation this week. Why is it when a Black man speaks intelligently, some people think he sounds like a motivational speaker ?? How stupid !! Not every Black person comes from the South or uses a "ghetto" twang. Judson had personality, a great smile, interesting fashion and an important point of view. Martie adds absolutely nothing new to the show.

    • JLF says:

      Please stop with the racial conspiracy stuff. I can't explain why the judges made such a stupid decision tonite, but I have seen nothing in the show that suggests the judges have it in for any demographic group, either in this season or previous ones.

      • Brenda says:

        Thank you JLF. I am so sick of racial conspiracy remarks. I too think they sent the wrong person home but I doubt it had anything to do with race.

    • Felicia S. says:

      I totally agree. In my opinion he sounded far more intelligent that Susie who felt it was ok to insult him on national television.

    • Ruby Lee says:

      I've been African American for several decades now, and seriously doubt that Judson's race had anything to do with his elimination. Marty, however, should have been gone! I'm really wondering why she even was invited to participate anyway.

  7. Tom says:

    It's not Martie's age, Paula Deen provides more than enough proof of that. I haven't seen her cook anything I've been interested in and while I'm Southern, she's just annoying. Sorry that we missed the opportunity to say, "so long ya'll" to her tonight.

  8. Guest says:

    I am no fan of Marti's, but Susie was right about Judson and his bs....So glad his crocodile tears didn't save him this week.

    • JJ2 says:

      I agree! Bob and Susie were right on getting rid of Judson. There was nothing interesting about him - I've been ready for him to go.

      However, Food Network if you're reading I would love to see that weight loss/healthy eating POV on your network, just with a more interesting person!

      • Violet says:

        Healthy Appetie with Ellie Krieger on the Cooking Channel is a great show! She has her master's degree in nutrition, etc., etc. You never feel deprived after eating one of her recipes.

    • FunSized says:

      I disagree. Judson was just trying to find his POV, not BS-ing, and it was tacky for susie to say that.

  9. Ana says:

    Can't understand why Martie is still there, also why did Alton pick her in the first place. She gets on my last nerve and I the viewer have to suffer through her another week. Team Giada is in it to win it, from they way they have been doing it. Justin is the strongest and most interesting on Team Alton. Bobby's best Eric was sent home last week him I would have watched the rest no.

    • Lawrence says:

      I agree, Justin is interesting with some great idea; however, overall Team Alton is just as interesting. I thought Judson was the AWESOME on the show. I also thought he was the strongest cook on the team weekly. His bow ties rocked. I am so sad he left the show and wish they would bring him back. His POV is so relevant right now.

  10. Hopeful says:

    I was fine with either Judson or Marti going home. Judson just come out of his shell, but his last vido was not as good as Marti's. And If Alton Brown Picked Marti for his team. I feel we just have not seen
    what he saw. Alton must have thought she was a good cook.
    And she is just slow showing us who she really is.

    • Food Fan says:

      Good point. It does make me wonder: just why did Alton pick her in the first place?
      I suppose there could be some remote possibility that she could later emerge as a sort've dark-horse candidate after everyone already gave up on her--but even if that somehow happened (and its looking very unlikely), I think others, are already too far ahead of her for it to matter much.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Well, she's got two more weeks (that is, until it's Alton's "turn" again) to prove her detractors wrong ...or not. If she shapes up, then I suppose she's earned her place, and the network loves an 'improvement' story arc. If not, she'll be gone well before it gets down to any meaningful head-to-head competition.

      • Jerilee says:

        They could change the pattern; eliminate teams again, or even have a double elimination.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Yes, Magpie Martie IS slow to show us herself in a professional manner. However, others who were slow, were dispatched rather quickly and painlessly (for the viewers). Now, we're stuck having to listen to Ms. Molasses Mouth say some more of her pap for another week. Oh, the sorrow of it.

      • Jerilee says:

        Perhaps they will have a challenge where nobody says anything!!!!!!! LOL

        • FanFare57 says:

          HAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for that chuckle. That said, I find Martyr (I mean, Martie)'s dishes to be forgettable. The judges definitely respond to her home spun monologues more than her food.

    • Brandon Falls says:

      This is so not true. You are telling me you thought Marti's video was better than Judson? Are you insane? Judson is a natural in front of that camera. I don't see see why they call him phony or a BS Artist. As a TV producer myself, I know great talent and he has the "IT" factor.