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. Georgia Weathers says:

    Think it is down to Justin, Ippy, Malcolm and Yvan. Again, like reading Aarti's comments; very fair!

  2. Georgia Weathers says:

    Sorry,,,left out Michelle!

  3. your biggest fan says:

    Linkie, we are so, so proud of you. You did very, very well. I know you were portrait as insecure, but I also know drama is needed to make this show work and I know you are not as insecure as you are showed here.

    You looked gorgeous and guess what, you finally had a chance to show you are more than just deserts. Your chicken looked beautiful and delicious. I wonder if Nikki make desserts and how she would have fared in that category.

    Yes, you had to make something you did not know because, once again, as a team player you did what Giada and the rest of your team wished for you to make. See it this way: if you had the time to experiment with this, you might have done it better than the original Mexican churro. You were very brave to take this one, knowing you were up against someone with Mexican roots. Which, by the way makes me wonder why they did not do Asian, Greek or any other country that is often found in food courts or why they did not give Mexico to one of the other teams, well knowing it is Martita's foundation. Was it because it was a given that you should go home tonight and you were put up for this? How would your team mates fair with South African foods? Just wondering.

    Despite all of this, you kept your head high and made anyone that knows you proud to know you. We know this was just the beginning. We know we will see more of you in future. Someone with so many talents, authenticity,humbleness and sweetness as you have.............YOU GO GIRL.

    • Tanya says:

      I am sad to see her go but I wonder how you can make the accusation that it had been a given that Linkie would be going home tonight? She wasn't the only contestant that was out of her comfort zone. I don't think challenges are given to deliberately cause contestants to falter. Linkie was given her time to shine with the chopped basket and she did. Her chances was as fair as any other contestant's. The competition is tough. No food court has South African food so that comment is completely irrelevant here. Good luck to you Linkie.

      • your biggest fan says:

        Re read: I did not imply that South African food is in Food courts, but many other foods are. Why choose Mexican when Martita is part of this team? Please read what I said again. Asian, Greek, Italian........you name it!

        A more leveled play field would have been more convincing.

        • JLF says:

          I sure thought it smelled fishy when Giada's team with two Latin cooks got Mexican. You're right that were certainly some more neutral choices to go with instead of stacking the deck in favor Giada.

          • LISN says:

            Even though it seemed stacked (seemed that way to me, too), team Giada didn't win overall.
            It just goes to show that nothing in this show "is a given" except the pattern of eliminated cooks.

        • Tanya says:

          I see what you are saying. No harm no foul. It may seem a bit suspect, but it was suspect too when Giada's team was given Italy on the bus tour episode. The show has too many flaws this season. And yes you are right about the level playing field. I don't believe contestants can ever be portrayed 100% accurately because they are in such a stressful situation and we only see them under that pressure.

          • Sue says:

            I agree, as soon as they announced that Giada's team had Mexican I knew that Linkie was going home. A setup? It was Giada's turn to lose someone. No way was Bobby's team to have 2 and Giada's 4. Nikki was staying no matter what she did.

          • Guest says:

            i think you are right. The math equation adds up!

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Maybe it wasn't a given that Linkie was going home, but the deck was sure stacked against her. First off...Bobby's and Alton's teams have 3 players left, Giada's had 4. Guess which team was going to lose someone? Secondly, Giada's team was handed "Mexican" , with two of her chefs have Latino backgrounds. So it was either Ippy or Linkie who would be most likely to be headed to the pitch room. We have seen how Giada loooooves her boys so...Linkie gets kicked to the curb.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      She did look especially pretty. Loved her earrings.

  4. beachinfrizzy says:

    Aw, so long, sweet Linkie. At the very moment when she said "I don't know what to make" I shouted aloud "make a churro!" as a joke...I associate churros with junky amusement park food, deep fried, crusted with sugar...and I'll be darned if Martita didn't say it at the exact same time! My 12 year old daughter suggested a chipotle-chocolate cupcake; if only Linkie had more confidence - maybe she thought Martita was the 'expert' so was afraid to go against her idea? There are so many flavor profiles associated with Mexican desserts...dulce de leche, Mexican coffee, something with tropical fruits - I wish she'd come up with something on her own that wasn't so far outside her experience. Those greasy fried dough strips just did not look appealing at all.

  5. girloftheworld says:

    Linkie was there for foder so is Malcom and Martie... they are not really being considered for a show... Nikki- She is not someone people want to learn from. There is something that seems almost scolding and eyerolling when she speaks... like she is an alien who has studied human nature and is trying to imitate a human.

    • Janet Fagnan says:

      Nikki comes off just like an alien, you really are girloftheworld. One other thing, she comes off as so many ladies in pageants, totally not authentic. I think the gal stuck in the fifties is sort of cute, but I think her portryal would wear out quickly. I like Ippy, but he is so laid back he seems like he has valium in his veins instead of blood.

    • Marsha says:

      Wow, that was ridiculously harsh!

    • Guest says:

      girloftheworld, I'm with you! Yes, we all agree that the FN hosts should have culinary expertise, but they should also be inviting, warm, and charismatic. After all, there are many people who tune in to FN just to watch, even though they don't cook. Like you said, Nikki doesn't inspire me to learn from her, nor even to want to watch. I got the same negative impression from Melissa D'Ariabian; unfortunately, she won. I don't watch her at all, and I won't watch Nikki if she wins.

    • jack says:

      Girloftheworld, you obvious did not pay much attention to what the judges said during Linkie's presentations. During the chopped show, it was only Linkie in her team that really shined. Martie did a great job last week and for malcolm, he is not a straw man. Your comments about Niki is not from this world and sound more alien. You really sound like the referee that sit on the side and knows nothing about the rules of the game. Why do you not focus on learning the game before you give comments like this ...

    • Jess says:


  6. FanFare57 says:

    Aarti, your comments are very kind to the discarded finalists. You're their best cheerleader. I must disagree with your confidence in both Marti and Linkie, thought. Watching Marti perform in the kitchen (as in cooking) is frustrating. She's such a discombobulated cook, complaining that she "bit too much off to chew" yada, yada, yada, -- she makes my teeth gnash. Linkie is sweet like sugar, maybe too sweet that I feel the cavities growing with her every utterance. Her back story was interesting about being from South Africa, but I don't recall ever hearing that before. She did seem to try to fit her square peg shape into a round hole and got stuck. For this show, she consistently lacked confidence. Although Marti pulled did well in the end, I simply can no longer stand to watch her sputter along at a snail's pace.

    • Guest says:

      I will have to agree with you on the Marti comment. She looked downright crazy in the kitchen stirring the mixing bowls. I was thinking to myself im sure its stressful but noone else looked as frazzeled as she did. Maybe the competition is getting to be to much for her.

  7. Wayne says:

    Linkie was stunning in that little black dress!

    Tough enough to stand her own ground too cos she didn't give up a single tomato to Nikki when she complained about her having all of them. I'm sorry she's gone but I didn't think she'd make it to the end. Sometimes she gets flustered and her words run on top of one another but she had a great tv personality and warmth.

    Best to you Linkie in all you undertake! A lot of us really liked you!

  8. Frank Demeo says:

    1. Martie didn't do so bad. Her dish wasn't very complex but she didn't make a mess of herselg again, as I know many expected.

    2. Nikki rubs me the wrong way (As many here seem to express as well) but, she did well in the challenge. She made food that looked great and her presentation while not perfect, was better than Linkie's. And let's not all forget that editing can make ANYONE look bad....at just the right time when the network wants us to not like someone. ;-)

    3. Linkie is warm and lovable and sweet....but its been clear she was not going to go the distance being on a strong team like Giada's.

    4. Martita made a nice looking dish and apparently the judges loved it...but yes, she dropped the ball in the presentation.

    So yeah, it looks like the network seems to want to even out teams for the finale....but so far, you can't really complain about who has been eliminated. Personally, I felt bad for Linkie when I was watching her 1 min. video. I know she was hating it inside. Gotta be rough!

  9. T.S says:

    Wrong decision again, its getting worse and worse. They should've let Martita go she blew it. I think she is very selfish and fake person, same goes for Giada. Bobby and Alton always very supportive and helpful to their team. All Giada cares is if she looks good or not and that fake smile of hers getting annoying. Bob Tushman on my nerve as well.

    • Frank Demeo says:

      So you hate everyone that's happy then? Got it.

      • Guest says:

        Frank are you related to martita? Seems like you always defend her even when your SO wrong. Cousin?

    • FanFare57 says:

      "They should have let Martita go..." Why? They liked her dish. The judges didn't know what went on prior to service. Therefore, they had little reason to dump her. Their decision between Linkie and Nikki was based on their food, period.

      • Bristol says:

        I could be wrong but when they are in the pitch room I thought they looked at there over all season in the competition, but I don't know it's hard to judge because we have no idea what these people have edited.

    • cindy says:

      I agree and in the end I really will not watch another food show cooking mexican food. Giada needs to get over herself and disappear. I can NOT watch her ever again. When Alton is on at first I am not interested and then before I know it I have learned something new. I wish he was on more. I am real tired of diners drive inns and dives.

  10. Guest says:

    I continue to be disappointed each week with who the judges chose to dismiss. Do they know before the season begins what they looking for in a new FN show? Sometimes, I think they do but the viewers do not have that information. I don't understand why Martie is still there.

    • Bristol says:

      It's all in the drama, most likely why Penny stayed longer than her exporation date last season.