Aarti’s After Party: Star As Therapy

by in Food Network Star, June 24, 2012

Emily Ellyn

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.

Someone give me my clairvoyance badge! (Isn’t that something you earn in the Girl Scouts?) Last week I asked why Emily was so fascinated by the '50s, and why Justin felt the need to pursue this "rebel without a culinary cause" POV because, in my estimation, what you cook isn’t the whole story — it’s why you cook that turns an everyday burger into something special.

And guess what? That was exactly what this week was about.

I’ll be honest. I’m still a bit surprised that Emily was sent home. She was an early favorite of mine, although always with a bit of reservation. I wanted to see beyond the awesome wardrobe and masterful cooking technique to the beating heart beneath the halter-neck apron. I had really hoped we’d get there this week.

During my season of Star, we often likened this competition to therapy. The last thing you’d expect in a TV competition about cooking is to have to deal with your demons. But you do, because being under this kind of scrutiny, under this kind of pressure, draws all of those suckers to the surface. And, rather than enduring hours of self-analysis on a couch in a therapist’s office, you’re doing it in your heels, under interrogator’s lights and before a national TV audience. It’s scary, no doubt. But one of the things I learned through Star is that if something scares you, you can’t back off — you’ve got to run full-speed at it, roaring with all your might.

Yvan Lemoine

I have to give it up to Yvan this week. Until now, I honestly haven’t walked away with much of an impression about him. But when Bob asked, “Why is food important to you?” I thought, oy. That is the kind of massive, $64,000 question that can sink you under its weight. But, depending on how you look at it, it can also be a gift. Rather than shy away from it, Yvan barreled straight into it, revealing a chapter in his life of such heart-wrenching depth that I don’t think I’ll ever forget him. It takes a lot of courage to stand so vulnerably and nakedly before the country, but when you’re that honest, how can anyone not love you?

I loved Martie’s story for the same reason. Sure, I have to have a defibrillator handy every time she cooks because I’m never certain she’ll make it in time (now I know how Bobby felt when he watched me cook!), but, boy, did she bowl me over when she told that story about learning to throw her own parties so that she’d never be stood up or uninvited to one again. Again, she revealed a deep wound, one I totally relate to (being the victim of cruel children’s pranks). But rather than indulge in any “woe is me,” she turned it into a trademark Martie moment: a little spunk, a little pull-your-socks-up vitality and a hefty dose of warm humor. I don’t know how she manages it every week, but I have a feeling Martie could stick around a lot longer.

Emily Ellyn and Alton Brown

But, oh, my sweet Emily. All she needed was one good story, one good moment from her past, perhaps the moment that started it all for her. I know that it’s hard to pull down the walls you may have built up, walls that in Emily’s case may resemble an awesome ‘50s wardrobe and a knowledge of retro fare that is likely rivaled by none. But like it or not, this show calls for not only the slick coat of paint, but a look at the bones of the house, too.

I long to know what it was that made Emily choose this particular era as the one that she clings to, why she longs for the “simplicity” of the Leave It To Beaver days. By her tears, I sense that there’s some deep sadness behind it. Sadly, I’ll never know. I’m starting to get attached, people! I’m disappointed that she’s gone, especially because I think that, had she taken the plunge and given us a glimpse of her story, she would have stayed this week; neither Nikki nor Martita told deep-enough stories for my liking, but at least they told us something. Emily was one of the top people whom I looked forward to watching each week, and with her gone, a bright cat-eyed light has disappeared from the competition.

What did everyone else think?


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Comments (1,119)

  1. Lulu says:

    I agree will y'all in that it was a big mistake to send Emily home. She was my second favorite on the show. Martita has NO personality, and Martie is so uncomfortable to watch. Neither one of them stand a chance at winning and I think they should have given Emily some more time to come out of her shell. She is very unique and isn't that what we all want to watch?? I am shocked and very sad. Tears actually fell from my eyes when they let her go.

  2. JEarley says:

    I'm so glad to see that so many share my frustration over Emily's elimination. I've watched this show for 4 seasons without fail and for the first time I have no desire to continue watching. I've been so frustrated I haven't wanted to even get on this website for over a week!

    Emily has been consistent from day one - always true to her POV. She stumbles once and boom - that's it. Totally illogical. The only explanation that I can imagine now is that the network didn't want to deal with the fact that the cultural period she represents isn't "socially acceptable" in today's politically correct world. What other reason is there? So she didn't share a story from her deep dark past. Big deal. I still love watching her. She lights up the room. Her personality is effervescent. By contrast, Nikki's attempt was hollow. I have absolutely no desire to watch her. The story she told was forced and felt just as fake as she is. To have her stay is a real slap in the face to Emily. I'd watch her show in a heartbeat!

  3. Tracy says:

    I'm finally getting the message and it seems to be this: The food network star and its judges could look like a joke, lose viewers, Giada could lose respect and Martita can screw up as many times as she wants( worst standing for 30 seconds on tv with a blank look on her face saying nothing and wonderful emily gets set home) but none of that matters as long as Martita wins. do I got it right?

    • SKBL says:

      Thankfully Martita finally got the heave-ho. I do wish it had been earlier so we might still have wonderful Emily Ellyn.
      I don't like this "must lose one from each mentor evenly" stuff. I'd love to see EE vs Justin - my 2 favorites!

  4. SKBL says:

    This just in! FN has opened a poll about who you'd like most to be brought back!!! Go to http://blog.foodnetwork.com/star-talk/category/fo... and scroll down to July 5th.

    There may be hope for EE after all :)

  5. THUMBS UP says:

    I am scared...in the commercial for the next food network star it shows Alton Brown crying. I think that means Justin might be going home. Thumbs up if you want Justin to stay or win!

  6. Felicia Perez says:

    I love Justin. Finally someone smart to watch!! I was getting really tired of watching people make stuff that I've seen a million times! Justin brings the creativity this Network has been missing. He is going to challenge me as a cook because he won't just show me how ingredients make a delicious dish, but he will also she me how to apply unconventional techniques to evolve dishes I've made over and over again into something new, and most importantly, something I want to experiment with at home :) He is an inspiration and he is definitely watch worthy!!

  7. krisgirl220 says:

    Aarti, Totally agree with what you said about Emily.....I, too, looked forward to watching her show on the Food Network. What attracted her to the 50's?---there appeared to be a deep reason that Emily couldn't reveal so readily.....that was OK with me but not the FN folks....too bad for us, the viewers. I would have watched her with or without the POV; with or without the 50's era. Emily has an engaging personality of someone you would like to know or have as a friend.....like YOU do, Aarti!