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. Jessica says:

    I preferably like Nikki better than Linkie. But I do know that Linkie is a warm and friendly person, and that she could make friends with anyone. I do agree with u on the Martie Party, Aarti. Funny comment though!!

  2. stella says:

    To Suzanne from Hawaii...
    Yes!! Yes!! Lovely idea re 'Brother Iz' singing on a possible Ippy show. BTW, here is link:

    (Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, sung by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.

    • Juli says:

      Thanks for your post, Stella.
      This one has a real cool video to go with the song, with rainbows all over the place!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fahr069-fzE&fe...

      • Food Fan says:

        another good one with a hawaiian theme is "Ku'uipo" by Elvis Presley. (Its on youtube.com)

    • Jerilee says:

      You do know that wonderful singer died several years ago....

    • Food Fan says:

      I always like the tune from the original Hawaii Five-O TV show by The Ventures. Ya know, whoever wins....could have a theme song....kind've a kewl idea to go with their point of view. For example, Emily good do a Ricky Nelson's Mighty Good song (meaning the food is mighty good). All these songs are on youtube.com. I like both Ippy & Emily, my 2 favorites at this point.

  3. Ruby says:

    I loved Linkie. I really did. She was kind, sweet and bubbly, but that doesn't last on food network star. I would rather see Nikki go, she has something about her that I dislike. I can't see Nikki teaching America how to make grilled masterpieces. If that grill was next door, I might think about moving (just kidding!). Though I was upset to see Linkie go, in the long run I knew it wasn't going to be her on my TV screen. Ultimatelly, Nikki nor Linkie had any chance getting down to the finale. I must say, with Martita's help Linkie could've stayed. I am not a Martita fan. Martita bores me. She also isn't willing to help out her team. She's just concerned about winning herself, which we all know is not going to happen. I am now rooting for Justin, who is truly a cotender. So, sweet Linkie, I bid you farewell. May you take what you've learned about yourself and use it to become a fantastic chef. I know you can.

  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

  5. Isabella_Cooks says:

    I agree... the new format is terrible. And yes, very predictable. Linkie was a likeable girl, but at the end of the day, she didn't have the 'it' factor required for TV.

    I don't see much in the way of mentoring from Giada or Bobby. Alton is the only one who really teaches and guides. He has a passion for food, a passion for excellence and he knows TV. Wish they would make him the only coach... now that would be an awesome show. He'd get the job done. I love what he did with the contestants last season.

    I feel bad for all of these contestants because there is no on-camera practice until they're thrown into the pitch room scenario. The best part of last season was watching them improve on camera week by week. These folks need help. All of them. Now.

    And... there should be more than two judges. Serioiusly.

  6. Jerilee says:

    Sorry, gotta go. 911 with patient.

  7. Orson says:

    I've been rooting for Justin since Day One. His creativity would keep viewers watching to see what he'll come up with next. Glad to see he has finally topped the fan vote! I was never interested in Martita. Emily is cute, smart, and has an interesting POV so I hope to see more of her too.

  8. PastryChef says:

    I find Linkie fascinating, she really had that beautiful glow, like she enjoyed what sh was doing. I think with a little more help from her team mates (referring to Nikki) and a bit more confidence she would've won. I for won would go out of my way to see her show, she's an interesting character, I sense she's filled with much knowledge that she didn't even have enough time to share. However, I honor the judges decision, knowing that they see more then we do. I always really liked Emily, and I thought her whole thought on things was much more different then the usual on food network and I think she also, along with Martita, would've made a great show. Not to be mean or to bring offense but I don't think Michele or Nikki should go any farther in my opinion. I find Nikki harder to relate to, and her character just doesn't seem right. She has more of a judging, scolding nature. Not like a friend or a kind teacher. I think watching her show would be a bit of a bore for me, or just too intense. I think it's nice she wants to teach girls not to be afraid to grill but I also think she isn't caught up to be a teacher, and ultimately that IS what she'll be doing on the show. Michele I'm just not sure if she's right for the job, she's an okay cook I suppose, and she has a fair attitude but I'm not sure if people would REALLY enjoy her show, no offense of course. Ippy is a nice guy, a laid-back, Hawaiian personality. What he's lacking is enthusiasm, and making things fresh. If he's doing a show each week, it'll be a problem if he can't make it new each time. Justin is pretty cool, he's great at describing the food and making you smile. Very good with relating to the audience. He just needs to makes sure he does the food right and not make his act too long, other than that, I think he's great! Yvan is great with people, comfortable on camera, and over all a good cook. He just needs to make sure he's adding personal stories in to interest the audience and capture there attention-but at the same time be giving them great recipes. Malcolm-nice guy, good cook, but he has a habit of clamming up when it comes to the audience and the camera. The camera is a big thing to, because each week you'll be working with it. You have to be able to control your energy level and be all-smiles on camera.

  9. nellaalex says:

    I have never really been a Giada fan but I am really not a fan now. Her smile is forced, her personality is forced and she is a "STAR"?? She dresses like a teenager ( I know her wardrobe has nothing to do with it but it shows part of her overall personality ) her skirts get shorter every show, we know she has a great little shape but this is a food show and the contestants are the stars. I would never closely judge a star chef but I did judge all of them since they were judging the contestants I felt I could judge them and Giada came out lacking in genuine warmth. The pasted on smile, the Martita this, the Martita that, I had way too much Martita by the forth show. I have no idea how long is took Giada to really capture her spot on the Network but I would bet it took her a long time to make any kind of real connection with the camera, To me Giada is very superficial., lacks warmth and has a very superior attitude.