Aarti’s After Party: Redemption and Defeat

by in Food Network Star, June 17, 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.

Well, didn’t Martie redeem herself this week?

I was kind of amazed at how many of you wrote, with some vitriol, that sweet Martie didn’t deserve to stay last week. Well, she certainly proved herself this week, cooking a rather elaborate multi-step dish (Southern-style arancini, which I would never have attempted to make for 150 people) and bowling the judges over with her warmth and humor.

Just one thing though, Martie, my love: That moniker you’re using? Martie Party? It’s kinda taken. Ahem!

I am sad that Linkie went home, though. I understand the network’s decision, but I really fell for her warmth and sparkle. I’m also sad about the prospect of a dessert-centered show disappearing. Who doesn’t crave a little more dessert in their lives? (If you don’t, then maybe you can teach me your trick!) And, sadly, I don’t think it was a lack of talent or potential that handed Linkie the go-back-to-go card.

Rather, it was that Linkie fell victim to a syndrome that attacks all of us at one point or another: changing who you are to be something you think someone else wants you to be.

In this case, it manifested in the form of a churro. Team Giada was assigned Mexican food, and with two team members of Latin heritage, I assume that Linkie felt pressure to create an authentic Mexican dessert, something she had no experience making. I found myself wincing and crying out, “no!” at the screen when she bowed to Martita’s suggestion to make churros, even though she had never had them. Cut to the Spanish inquisition in the car, where, out of what I can only imagine was some deep fear, Linkie interrogated Martita about churros and Mexican hot chocolate – flavors, ingredients and textures.

Here’s a hard and fast rule for Food Network Star finalists: If you don’t know how to make it, don’t make it.

This always sinks contestants. Heck, it nearly sunk me. In one of our first challenges during my season of Star, Duff asked us to transform sweet carnival snacks into savory ones. The creepy fortune teller machine assigned me funnel cakes – something I couldn’t remember ever having in my life.

I freaked.

Someone told me that they resembled deep-fried pancakes in texture, so I made little scallion-ricotta blinis topped with tandoori-barbecue chicken. It saved me. Had I tried to re-create funnel cakes? Well, I don’t think I’d be sitting here writing to you now.

I would have loved to have seen Linkie make something that was Mexican-inspired, perhaps a Mexican chocolate cupcake or some Horchata-flavored ice cream – something that expressed herself and her expertise in her unique God-given way. Ultimately, cooking something she was uncomfortable with stole her confidence to such an extent that it dimmed her characteristic sparkle when presenting to the judges.

Linkie, if you’re reading this: You’ve got it, girl. Everything you are is good enough. Share your sparkle. I can’t wait to see where you go from here.

What did everyone else think?


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Comments (716)

  1. Greg Taylor says:

    Why is there so much hatred and anger out there people? These contestents put their family and jobs on hold to persue a dream and some of you out there have nothing better to due than to be cruel and mean. I for one think that the things being said about Nikki by some are way to offensive. How many of you haters out there would even dare to put yourself out into the public eye? And what would we see? By some of the words being tossed around I think we all can see who the real fake,mean,cruel and hard people are. As for last nights show, the judges made the right choice. Nikki once again rose to the challenge with both her cooking dish and her one minute presentation,while once again Linkie did not. It is that simple. Let"s all try to clean up the comments being made about the contestents and the judges and refrain from the personel attacks. It only shows who YOU really are!

    • Guest says:

      Greg, do yourself a favor and read your own comments. You tell everybody else that they have hateful things to say, and then you turn around and say that Linkie 'once again did not'. It is the first time that Linkie was in the bottom 2 and I think that Niki was there for the 2nd time now. I agree with you about the hatred and anger, but do not join the group ...

  2. shirelan says:

    This is the second elimination in a row I have been very unhappy about. Last week, hands down, Martie should have gone. She did redeem herself a little this week, but not enough to justify sending Judson home and keeping her. And then this week, Nikki stayed? I am glad I am not the only one who has felt a really off putting vibe from Nikki. I find it interesting that they rode Judson about being too much of a BS artist and a sales man, and they don't get that from Nikki? Really? That is all I get from her when she is on camera. Right now my ideal top 4 would be Ippy, Emily, Yvan and Michelle. That would be a kick ass showdown.

  3. Guest says:

    There are some very racy pictures of Nikki on her IMDB page that weren't there last week. Is she putting them up herself?

    I really hope this is not the direction Food Network is going, especially with all the emphasis on "authority" in the kitchen. Then again, maybe this is what guys fantasize the "Grill Next Door" looks like...

  4. Dr. K says:

    Nikki and Martita showed their true colors in last night's episode. They both just lost my vote (if they make it to the end, which I hope they do not).

  5. Linda S. Wilson says:

    I could not believe Nikkie would say something as crass as (paraphrasing), "I'm going to put grill marks on Linkie's butt." Is this really the personality we want to continue on in the competition? Linkie may not have had the "food chops," but she sure seemed to have class.

  6. Cielo says:

    Obviously, Food Network has made this show contrived and predictable. We all know the top three finalists will be one from each team. Any predictions?

    I believe the final three will be Michele, Justin, and Martita. Michele is memorable (unlike Malcom) and likable (unlike Nikki). Martita is at the top of the fanvote, but there's a chance Ippy or Yvan could be in the final. I think Giada's team is the best all together, but no individual member stands out the way Justin or Michele or Emily do. Justin and Emily will come head to head (Martie will soon be out of the picture) and Justin will win because Emily is ever so slightly fake. So, based on those final three (Justin, Michele, and Martita), Justin's my personal favorite, but the other two are decent.

    • Food Fan says:

      You say: Justin will win because Emily is ever so slightly fake.
      I say: Emily will win over Justin because she is both better on Camera and makes food that people would actually eat and make.

    • JLF says:

      I find Emily to be the real deal. It's Justin that strikes me as "ever so slightly fake" as one who looks to do something wierd for wierd's sake.

  7. Barbara says:

    What surprised me was that Giada did not "mentor" her term member Linkie and help her make the right decision for her dish? She stood idly by and did not coach her at all. Seemed very odd to me. We see now what that caused. Linkie is now history. I agree with others that this "team" format is really not the fairest way to go about this process, or at least it seems that way to me. I have read through many of the posts here and surprisingly saw 2 from Nikki, addressing the "comments" made about her. She bashed her potential audience which does not seem the smart thing to do. We all have our personal favorites and so do I. Plus I have those that totally turn me off. We, the audience see only what the network wants us to see.....they put the slant on things and we react to that slant. So my advice to Nikki is lighten up girl and quit taking all this so seriously as it won't matter one whit in the end.

    • Joel says:

      Exactly, Barbara. Unlike even Bobby, who directed Michelle to her use of the Chicken Liver. And Alton as a mentor impresses me more and more. He clearly likes his team members, says to their face the things that they need to hear, but also shows them he cares. He goes way beyond what the judges say (I'm thinking specifically of Giada jumping on the "too laid back, Ippy!" bandwagon), and told Emily that she "Presents, instead of talking to people, long before Bob mentioned this. He is thinking critically about how to get his team to where they want to go, and isn't trying to make the choice for the judges.

  8. CeledonCity says:

    I feel like people enjoy railing against Nikki no matter what she does. I don't mind her at all, especially if she can manage to hold her own (even if she's not the epitome of warmth that everyone seems to crave). I get such a kick out of this format. Team Alton all the way! I've been voting for Justin all season before it was cool.

    • Food Fan says:

      Tell ya what. I'll try to "meet ya halfway."
      Lets review:
      1st, Nikki is criticized for poor 1st impression about comments to others, or at least to linkie.
      There was alot of feedback on here about it. Not favorable.
      It appears she got the message, either from here or from her mentors cuz she seemed to stop (until the remark about grill-marks on linkie's butt).
      Then there was the Girl on Grill and it sounded like too much flirtatiousness and innuendo. But then, she toned that down to Grill Next Door. Good. Better.
      And then she says: she wants to show a softer side of herself.
      Also good.
      I *do* give Nikki credit for doing some "reigning-in" and toning-down....but its an uphill battle to counter the already-established perception. (It isnt just Nikki. Martita is now hearing from quite a few on here about her comments, too).
      But in the same episode Nikki makes the grill-marks comment. It doesn't help when trying to show a softer side.And people notice, and comment.
      Nikki is doing better than Martie in presentation and food, but we are seeing more and more in this Blog, the importance of how candidates treat others, interact with them, and what they say. It can be an uphill battle, afterwards.

      • JLF says:

        Bingo - it's all well and good to say you're ready to turn a new leaf, become softer, more likeable. Then at the first opportunity to prove your new resolve you revert back to aggressive smack talk. That new image didn't last long. I guess that when Nikki is told to show us who she really is, she already has.

    • Guest says:

      How about the comments she has made on here today? That's all I'm going to say.

  9. Ashley says:

    I was disappionted to see Linkie go! She is such a genuine and sweet person. I would have loved to watch her show!! I will not be watching Nikki.

  10. Grandma Joyce says:

    I just watched Linkie's exit interview, what a gracious woman. Linkie, the best of everything to you.

    • Guest says:

      I'm sorry! I mashed the wrong thumb! I meant to thumbs up!

    • Guest says:

      She really is quite gracious and because of her graciousness and professionalism, she will go far. I agree with you, Grandma Joyce!