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. Jack says:

    I saw so many people talking about the presentations - let's look at it in more detail and see what you wrote so far ...

    Martie likes her own voice and do not know when to stop talking,
    Ippy is too laid back
    Martita rolls her eyes, keeps on saying ai yai yai and throws in Spanish words,
    Malcolm is the one moment a salesman and then not selling,
    Ivan is too loud and then subdued,
    Niki is nasty with expressionless face
    Emily is fake and her theme is over stated
    Niki is pushy and nasty
    Justin wears lipstick and never smiles
    Michelle has a nose ring and gets thrown off by Giada
    Linkie is so sweet she creates cavities stumbles over her words and that stumbling caused her to go.

    Now is that fair? It seems as if there is not really someone in this show that is strong enough to stand up and be the star - or am I wrong? If this is about food, why not judge them by the food and if judged by the food then some of the contestants that are still in the race would have been out already. If judging is about presentation, then all should go. If it is the whole package, then should they not really be judged according to that rule and not the way they are judged now?
    What do you think ...

    • Guest says:

      I think people in general are acting barbaric and rude! It should be about food in the first place, presentation and personality follows to make one package. No star just falls from the sky. They work very hard for it.

    • Food Fan says:

      I gladly answer that.
      I have long said: I look for FOUR things in a new Star.
      1. Fantastically-delicious Food
      2. with simple, clear teaching/explaining
      3. from someone genuine/engaging/likable with a warm smile
      4. who ISN'T a turn-off by being loud, dull, too intense or weird.
      There it is. My "Total Package." I absolutely stand behind this!
      if you can think of any better and more relevant set of criteria, I'd love to hear it.

      Some people have "Chops" but are lousy at presentations/Camera.
      Others present well, but the food is just mediocre.
      Still others make good food AND are good on camera but somehow turn people OFF.
      And some may make a good dish but aren't good at telling others how they can do it.
      So, whoever has all 4, has STAR-Quality! Its open to all. Go for it!

    • JLF says:

      "Now is that fair?" - Not the way you spin it.
      Interesting that you selected only the negative comments by the viewers, none of the positive ones. For every one of the contestants there are those in favor and those against. Your spin against all of the contestants is your own. Don't put it on the entire viewing audience.

    • Food Fan says:

      You ask what do we think? Here's some more details:
      Yes, there are those left who should have already gone home but were saved by the the Team format. I dont like that, either.
      Let's consider the "total package": (this is just my opinion. and it may change later, but for now)...
      I think the that the 2 who are coming closest to the total package and who have the most potential are (again, my opinion): Ippy and Emily. At least for now.
      Ippy: Wonderful flavors!I like him right away. Would offer something new. Great smile. Wanna see more of his knife skills and plating and what interesting twists he comes up with. Isnt a turn off or in yer face.
      Emily: Good explainer. Would offer a variety of dishes. Creative. Performs more consistently than some others.
      Comparing those two to some others:
      Justin: has chops, not on-camera.
      Malcolm: Good dishes, camera not so much.
      Nikki: Some good food. Comfortable on Camera but not drawing people in.
      Martita: started out great! But seems to have disappointed some of us with how she treats others.
      Michelle: also good food, but also not drawing that many in (although last challenge was better)
      Yvan: starting to find his way but others are ahead.
      ...and so.....
      Emily, and Ippy....are offering the most promise. Food. Likability. Teaching. They offer new and interesting twists on things. They dont turn me off.
      It still isnt over. And everyone will need to be "on Fire!" and perform.
      But these are my reasons for what I think.

  2. motteditor says:

    I wonder if, as these episodes were taped, the contestants realized how this new format is telegraphing the cuts. Did anyone really think when the bottom two were announced that Linkie wasn't going to be cut? They simply weren't going to have one team with two people and one with four. Who knows, maybe now that each team is down to three, they'll be a little less obvious about keeping them balanced, but it's just removing some of the ... wonder ... out of the final cut. There's no real question in a round like this, where as a viewer you know they have to balance the teams again. It makes it frustrating that my two favorites are on the same team (and Justin and Emily seem miles ahead of everyone else, IMO), as I feel like they're not going to get a chance to vie for the final prize because they happened to be picked by the same mentor at the start.

    I'm surprised to see the network and others saying Nikki's abrasive. She's not as warm as some of the other contestants, but it's not like it's watching Penny last year. Now THAT was abrasive. So she said she wanted to put grill marks on Linkie's butt. Seriously, I talk worse trash in xbox competitions with my friends. It's silly to think athletes and other competitors don't say far worse. IMO, that's harmless psyching herself up, and I personally got a chuckle out of it. Again, look at Penny last year if we want an example of a truly abrasive personality.

    • Food Fan says:

      I can agree with that. Penny from last year, was worse. Much worse.
      I think that in Nikki's case, she got off to a bad impression at 1st..and then about the time she is getting over it and wants to show a softer side, then she makes a comment that doesnt help her any.
      Yes, I have heard much worse. But:
      1. when yer on TV, you are under a microscope.
      2. Its always hard to combat or un-do a bad impression if people already have one. The best we can do is keep trying to not be our own worst enemy and act honorably. Dont say or do things to make it worse. Its true that no one is perfect. Just keep trying to set a good example.

      • Greg Taylor says:

        It seems as though the network needed someone to be the "bad guy" and thru the editing process it has been Nikki. From the first episode they have presented her this way and first impressions are hard to overcome.I have no doubt that thier have been "comments" made by some of the others that have not been aired. Every show has a good guy and a bad girl.

        • NotaFan says:

          I can completely understand the network "needing" a "bad guy", but come on, Nikki attacked the fans on here. I completely get that the bloggers have been brutal to her, but she should have let it go if she was set on overcoming those first impressions.

    • Monte says:

      I already knew someone from Giada's team was going home this week before the episode even started.

      As soon as Linkie made the Churro comment, I looked at the television, gestured, and said, "Bye bye, Linkie."

  3. Rickie says:

    You are all underestimating Michelle. I knew her in New England her cooking would blow you away. She is fun, warm, sparkly at times and very personable. Michelle rocks!

    • MoHub says:

      Not me! I'm the Captain of Team Michele, would love to see her win, and would definitely watch her show—even if it was all centered on seafood. And I'm not a fan of shellfish in any form!

  4. Rickie says:

    Also I agree that Martitia threw Linkie under that bus. She does not deserve at this point to win this contest. And that Justin is just plain weird. I cannot see the majority of Americans watching that fellow.

  5. Rickie says:

    Michelle-If you are reading this blog, would it be possible for you to get in touch with me online? I was in NYC last week staying near South Port area where you all did your food public show but simply did not know how to reach you since you were in the Food Network Challenge We met awhile ago in New England Boston area when I lived there. Anyway, I simply am trying to connect-you can reach me by searching Rickie Banning on LinkedIn. I am definitely rooting for you on this show. The judges sometimes say the most over the top comments, which their viewers do not always agree with. Welcome to the world of television. Good luck! I applaud all of you for sticking this show out. Ricki now from Honolulu

  6. Chris says:

    Just watched the episode, and I must say I really don't see why so many here had this love for Linkie. She seemed nice enough, but except maybe once or twice, she never cooked anything exceptional or creative, and at no time has she seemed comfortable in front of the camera or groups of people. I'm pretty sure those skills are needed when you are hosting a cooking show.

    Full disclosure that I am an Alton fan, but he really seems to be the only one of the mentors to actually do any mentoring! Giada and Bobby seem to do nothing for their teams beyond approving their ideas for challenges.

    Ultimately, I think this comes down to Justin, Martita (who I really don't like), and Michele or Nikki (maybe Emily if they actually go for the top 3). I honestly don't understand why people have such an issue with Nikki. Apparently many don't like women with strong personalities. I doubt I'd watch her show, but please, lets not pigeon hole every female contestant into being sweet, humble, and demure.

  7. FanFare57 says:

    It is Tuesday morning and there are 500 comments on this thread! That's amazing for this point in the contest. Most of them are in support of Linkie. If she's reading these, she can feel pleased that there are so many fanatics who wish her all the best in her future. Although I don't necessarily disagree with her elimination at this juncture, I still appreciated her bright spirit. Good Luck.

    • Food Fan says:

      I wouldn't call them fanatics, but you're entitled to yer opinion like everyone else.
      Was Linkie perfect? No. Did she stumble? Yes. Did I point it out myself even though she was one of my favorites? Yes.
      I think she has the support she has because people admire:
      1. That she coulda brought something new
      2. That she was sincere, warm-hearted and not fake
      3. That what she made tasted good and she was skilled at it. (see the detail in her work at linkiecakes.com)
      It is a competition, and some others outdid her on camera....but she did good work and never bashed her team-mates.
      Appreciating that, is not fanatical.

      • FanFare57 says:

        Oh, puh-lease FF: the word fan is short for fantatic. Don't be looking for a negative inference where none was intended.

        • Food Fan says:

          I know its short for that.
          But it's you who used the word. And yer ignoring everyday, common useage.
          If you refer to "baseball Fans"---most folks will simply think its people who like baseball.
          If you refer to, "religious fanatics"--people wont think "fans", they'll think about people who are too extreme.
          All we know is what you say.

          • FanFare57 says:

            FF - You're really making a mountain over a molehill. I used the word fanatic instead of fan. BFD. No offense was intended. Get over yourself.

          • Food Fan says:

            Its not a mountain. Its not even a molehill. More like a pit that you dug yourself into. Perhaps another Beer would help. Most people think Fanatics is "bad" where "Fans" are OK. You were the one who used the word. I think yer just embarassed and backpeddaling by trying to now pin it on me. Perhaps another Beer would help ya. (This isnt worth spending any more time on.) You seem to argue with alot o' people.

          • Jerilee says:

            A fan can also be something used to cool oneself!!

          • FanFare57 says:

            That's a light break in the tone here. Thank you for that. We needed stay so serious.

          • FanFare57 says:

            Jerilee - I meant to say, we needn't stay so serious...

          • Jerilee says:

            I got your meaning. Sometimes it gets waaa to hot. Like to keep things cool, but some get carried away. So far I'm impressed with the comments not being so hateful. It's been a pretty good post. But...it's awfully crowded!!! So many replies to one post is hard to keep up with. Especially for us grandma types that are learning to navigate the blog!!! LOL!!

          • FanFare57 says:

            Really? You won't give it a rest. OK - I'll go there too. "Most people think Fanatics is bad"? When you say most people you mean YOU! A fanatic is someone who expresses themselves in a strident way. I am a fanatic for chocolate and I am fanatically loyal to my family. Neither statement could possibly considered as negative. Have you ever heard the term, "crazy fan"? . I use fanatic and fan interchangeably. FYI: with over 640 posts on this single thread debating the outcome of a middle of the heap cook who got eliminated, makes everyone one here a fanatic. I stand by my use of the word. btw: I hate beer and never drink it because it smells like dirty socks. Maybe, you need one, though. Or take a chill pill.

          • guest says:

            One for him and one for you.

          • Jerilee says:

            Oh my FanFare57.... I love beer, but I'll take chocolat anyway (remember that??)

          • FanFare57 says:

            Hi Jerilee, I've tried different types of beer (as in tastes) a few times in my life and it truly never appealed to me. The smell... ?
            But, chocolate - is a whole different story. I could join C.A. - Chocoholics Anonymous.

          • Jerilee says:

            Seriously...I love chocolate more than beer!! My last wish when I die is give me chocolate AND beer as my last meal, can't get enough of either. Does that make me an alcoholic or a chocholohic???? Perhaps both???? LOL!

          • FanFare57 says:

            HahahahahahahahahaH!!!! Either way, you'll be happy.

  8. Monte says:

    I find it extremely hilarious the Bob and Susie (or however her name is spelled) are referred to as "The Network". Very Orwellian.

    And the whole "tell a personal story" thing drives me kinda batty. Teach me. I don't want to hear how your grandma and you stood in the kitchen when you were 6, and she showed you how to make biscuits.

    This is what I loved (and still love) about Good Eats. AB is quirky, but I've gotten so much more out of Good Eats than I have out of ANY other show I've watched on FN where they tell cute little "personal stories". Why? Because AB EDUCATES.

    Anyway, I think the next three to go, in no particular order, are: Martie, Yvan, and Malcolm.

    At some point, Giada may toss Martita under the bus. I mean, Ippy lives in Hawai'i. And you KNOW that Giada would love to make occasional trips to Hawai'i.

    Besides, FN already has "Mexican Made Easy" with Maricela What's-her-name.

    The final three will be Justin, Ippy, and Michelle.

    • guest says:

      "Who knows for whom the bell tolls" Do you? Gambling is a game of chance, so you may be right or you may be wrong about the three finalists. The goal of the next star's show is unclear, so how do any of us know what the course of this competition will take. Reality, shmality, this is entertainment at its best or worst? I can't believe I am joining in on this time consuming activity...I guess I am adding support for my choice to the chef I would personally enjoy and hopefully others as well. The poll numbers, same people hundreds of times or hundreds of people some of the times? Would love to watch Yvan in his show. That's just my POV.

    • Luna says:

      Sure, the "tell a personal story" can get out of hand but sometimes people like to hear something they can relate to. Thay biscuit thing you were talking about could relate to tons of people. Also, other times, the food may relate to an occasion and then the audience will have a purpose to make it, not just for dinner or whatever.
      I don't know, but if Ippy wins, I don't think Giada gets trips to Hawaii. Plus, it's up to the judges, not the mentors to decide who wins so even if a mentor gives all their help to one person, they still may not win.

      • Monte says:

        Get out of hand? They have to do it like every single episode. And it's not necessarily (to me, anyway) about "relating to people". It's about learning how to cook better. I can be engaged in a program (like I was so often with Good Eats) because it entertains and informs me.

        As far as the food relating to an occasion, you still don't have to have a personal story to go along with it. AB did this with his "man food" show. Any of that food would be great to whip up for a football party.

        The same with a lot of his chocolate recipes. They could relate to Valentine's day...but no personal story there, either!

        Even in his very first episode, he basically said "here's how you can cook a delicious steak". No personal story. Just, "here's the cut to use, here's how you season it, here's how you cook it."

    • Food Fan says:

      Hmmm...you really think Giada may toss Martita under the bus? Now that, would be a surprise.

      and when you say: And the whole "tell a personal story" thing drives me kinda batty. Teach me. I don't want to hear how your grandma and you stood in the kitchen when you were 6, and she showed you how to make biscuits. ....i couldnn't agree more!
      Emeril, said very little about his family, baking cookies when he was 6yrs. old, etc...and was a HUGE success without all this emotional struggle and drama.
      I think Susie F. makes abig deal out of that to keep her job. Its just over-done.
      What about college students away from home & family? These folks still gotta cook and eat. What about a divorced 43yr. old on their own? What about someone 72 who's kids have all moved away. To hear all this family stuff over n over you'd think these other 3 groups dont even exist!

      • Monte says:

        Yes. It's possible. Of course, I think they have everything taped but the finale, but the way things are progressing, I could see it happening. I'm still wondering, though, if the vote totals on this site aren't being tampered with on the back-end, if you know what I mean.

        Susie is making a big deal out of it, I think, because she's a marketer. They need someone who would not only be marketable to the audience, but that they could use to get endorsements. Think Melissa D'Arabian and the Hidden Valley Ranch thing. Or the Sandwich Guy. He probably wasn't even the best last year, but they saw marketing dollars with him. Breads, mayonnaise, mustards, deli meats, etc. All marketing dollars.

        I still stand by that this is (somewhat) rigged. And until I see otherwise, I'll stand by that.

        Oh, I'll still watch, but just for the "train wreck" value.

        • Food Fan says:

          Interesting post. Really enjoyed reading this.
          Train wreck, eh?.....it'll be interesting to watch how things unfold.

    • John says:

      you hit the nail on the head

  9. Alise says:

    I have not really liked any of them this year. Justin is just strange. Reminds me of an eighties reject.

  10. Luna says:

    About what Aarti said about us saying Martie didn't deserve to stay, I agree with her. It is sort of rude to say that about someone who worked hard to get on the show. At the same time, it is just an opinion and hopefully, nobody takes offense to what people comment. Even though I agree Martie rambles too much, she still very sweet and we should give her a chance until the judges say otherwise.

    • Grandma Joyce says:

      Yes, she is a very nice person and she would be fun to hang out with. I think she could make me laugh, and I enjoy being around people who make me laugh. She just seems in over her head alot, which just proves this competition is difficult. We have watched extremely talented folks slip. Thus far, she has caught herself as she was falling.