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. Denise54 says:

    The network wants someone who can cook and who can breeze through a 1-minute presentation. If they can't do it by now, they won't last. It was sad to see Eric and Linkie go, but more people will be leaving before this thing is through. One person I won't miss is Nikki. I hate the snide comments she makes about other people. Last week, Martita came across in a negative light, but perhaps she was just under a whole lot of stress. Justin - witty but can't someone please cover up those beet-red lips? I like Emily - I don't care if she's "real" or not. Ippy is a nice guy but I'm not all that interested in Hawaiian food. Yvan is a good cook but kind of forgettable. Malcolm needs a sparkling, dynamic personality to go with his cooking skills. I don't care for Michelle's look...I'm still getting used to Guy Fieri's. I was truly surprised at all the negative comments about Martie. Wouldn't you rather watch a nice person who can keep talking than someone whose mind goes blank every time they turn around?

  2. Bristol says:

    There is alot of promise in ALL of the competitors. Except Marti (Sorry Marti fans), shes cool don't get me wrong, but she is very forgetful and I would fall asleep in the middle of her show, shes got great storys but she can't tell them without running into another one.

    Emily: She has a very unique POV. But will that be enough? The network has seen unique POV's before, maybe not a retro one, but I still think she is a major contendor.

    Nikki: Good luck, she has a very strong personality and I wish her well and i'm sure she can cook GREAT ,but I just don't see it. Anyones thoughts?

    Yvan: I actually forgot his POV, which is not a good sign, but I love his personality. And as Giada says....Personality counts 60% of a star.

    Linkie: Yes, shes eliminate but I am guessing from the feedback on her departure, the network won't ignore her. And Nikki had it in for her since Linkie arrived on the scene.

    • Food Fan says:

      OK. I'll bite. :)
      As things look now....."i'd pick either Ippy, or Emily.
      Others are also doing well...but these are my Top 2.
      Ippy: would bring something new--and interesting. He has excellent flavors to his dishes. He is not in-yer-face and I feel like he would be easy to follow and give good instructions. Likable guy.
      Emily: also a variety of many dishes. She has creative twists (so does Ippy). Good presentations. She might even be a bit humorous. I could be happy with either of these two.
      Yvan is finding his way and is upbeat, but....maybe a bit too much and other are already ahead of him...but he's still a contender.

      Bobby's Team: Hard to know who to root for, here.
      Nikki: gets thru presentations probably best on Bobby's team. I think in her case, she got off to a bad 1st-impression start and its been an uphill battle to counter it. The grill-marks on Linkie's butt comment didnt help any.
      Michelle: I like seafood. Michelle makes good seafood. Susie F. loved her chowder.
      Speaking for myself, while her abilities may be quite good, I'm not wild about the too-casual way she dresses (its fine if she's outdoors at the fisherman's wharf, but not in a kitchen on-camera. And, no offense, but I just cant get into another wild-haired type similar to Guy Fieri. Dont feel too bad, last year, I didnt care for Vic Vegas's monster-tattoos, either. Same as alot of other folks).
      Malcolm: Has done some good food, but needs to be a bit more lively. I wouldnt go crazy with it, but I'd turn things up a notch or two.

      Linkie: she will be missed. Yes, she needed to do better at presentations, and I posted that and said so, earlier. But she has great expertise at what she does. She didnt bash other contenders and had a sincere charm about her. And no gimmicks. We could use more candidates like that. The support she has received since being eliminated speaks for itself.

      Who will be sent home next? I dont know. It could be:
      Nikki: cuz she's at the bottom of fan vote ...or....
      Malcolm: keep waiting for him to knock it outta the park...and Bobby made a comment last challenge (which I cant recall right this minute), that may possibly give one an impression that he's about ready to cut Malcolm loose...maybe.
      Martie: who knows? She may revert back. Maybe, maybe not. Many are frustrated she isnt already gone.
      Ahhh, the suspense.....gotta keep watching.

  3. Hollywood says:

    emily is my darling star. i'd watch her between episodes of good eats (flip over to cooking channel), giada at the crib, throwdown, 3D, everything rachael and melissa and robert. yep, that's a pretty good night...

  4. Jerilee says:

    This site needs to spread out the posts!!! This many replies is too many to keep up with. I realize it's a heated discussion. But over 130 replies is overwhelming!!!! 5 weeks left, 9 contestants. Fan vote finale. How is that gonna work? Did FN have everyone a winner, just incase??

    • Food Fan says:

      ....and a Voice from the Mountain-top said:
      Fear Not!---for a New Thread, shall arise among you. And the people shall rejoice! (wink)
      (I'm really not sure why I did that).
      "Make it a Kodak moment". :)

  5. sassy_cat says:

    Linkie just wasn't star material, she just couldn't deliver in the camera takes. I am so sick of Martie she certainly isn't the brightest bulb in the group and she just goes on and on about nothing. Justin and Emily are the ones.
    oh, I wish Giada would dress her age there is nothing worse than a woman trying to be young by dressing like a teenager. Might tune into What Not to Wear!!!!

  6. cat says:

    I think they should just eliminate all the obviously weak people all in one week. Some people it just seems they are DRAGGING along, trying to convince them to be good on camera and share their POV. And some people, like Emily and Justin, they just get it.
    I agree that this shows an unflattering side of Giada for sure, and I find it interesting that nobody seems to mention how bad she was when she started.
    I also agree with the others that Martita threw Linkie under the bus...convincing her to make churros then not helping her out? What is that?
    Martie? Get her off. Anybody's southern grandma can cook what she does and be as good on camera. She is just boring.
    I truly think the best coach of all of the personalities is Alton, he does a great job. I keep wondering what kind of financial bonus they get if their team wins. They can't be that competitive just for the heck of it!
    Lovin' Justin and Emily and their truly unique POVs.

  7. Camodude1226 says:

    Linkie definitely needed to stay. Those football cookies looked YUMMY! She has such warmth and personality . Nikki needs to grab hold of her perspective because judson went last week for a somewhat similar reason. Martie did indeed redeem herself. She did not ramble or over-explain her dish. Her arancini looked scrumptious! I want Martita, Ippy, or Yvan to win.(i guess i am officially rooting for team Giada) Michele would be a good star on her own show. Emily would be a good one to. She had one minute to explain home-made applesauce! That has got to be hard. Good luck finalists! You might need it.

  8. HungryHungryViewer says:

    I am so thankful, Aarti, that you pointed out the fact that the party moniker is already taken...by you! Martie needs a new one.

  9. Suzanne says:

    I'm so proud of Ippy. I was fortunate enough to make his acquaintance a couple years ago. He is one impressive young man. He seemed like an advanced soul like someone I'd know my whole life. In person, he is not what I would describe as "laid back". As a matter of fact I found him quite intense, especially when I asked him how he made his fig pizza taste so good. This is the first year I've watched the network stars because I don't have TV. But since Ippy is our extremely small towns' super star I'm watching on my computer. I'm enjoying all the chefs. Yes, Martie did redeem herself. She was fabulous this week. I'm from Ohio originally and since Emily is so freaking cute I have to be proud of her too. And Justin is so insane, how could he not be fun to watch. Bobby's team always make damn good looking food, but they're all hard to look at (did I just say that, rude). Ivan makes fabulous looking food but he's just not my type. Then, I'm with those who think Martita and Nikki are mean. Between those two, poor, sweet ,little Linkie was trampled. In closing I think Ippy should play Brother Iz , "over the rainbow" for his bumper music when he wins and gets his own show. Aloha Ippy we all love in Kamuela.

  10. Rosalba says:

    I will like to see a show where Emily & Justin are together, I really think they could be perfect together.