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. EmilyFrances says:

    What on earth made Emily the worst of those three?? There was absolutely no logic in her elimination. She had exponentially more potential than the other two added together. Three times in the producer's challenge and several "personality" issues, really? 30 seconds of awkward camera silence and constant "we don't see the Martita we love"? There are so many others that deserved to go home WAY more than Emily ever has. It is simply incomprehensible. I really don't think I'll be able to watch this show anymore, if Emily and/or Justin get their own shows I will definitely watch, but this show has really lost me. :(

    • ceander says:

      I'm with you. I really loved Emily and wished we could have seen more of her. Remember something the producers said in an earlier episode. They said that they don't like characters. I don't think they believed Emily was real in her persona. I felt the genuiness of Emily if that is such a word. I would have loved to watch her and see what delicious and tasty food she had cooked up. Some of these personalities they pump up on tv I never watch and would never eat their food. Emily was fun and upbeat, and I loved the glasses. Hopefully some smart network will scoop her up.

    • Food Fan says:

      Yes! Most definitely!
      I admit I was disappointed and surprised over Emily's sudden nervousness tonight.
      But thats just it--tonight. And so many other good nights, and good things about her.
      Compared to...as you say above.
      What do you suppose the public outcry would be if Nikki was this whole thing?
      And Martita---she didnt bash anyone tonight. She CAN (and has been) warm and at-ease on Camera before....but---the challenge before tonight, her presentation was lacking. Tonight she has a whopping 30 seconds of dead-air....and her dishes need to be less "acceptable" (she has made some really good ones, too) and more fantastic!....I am beginning to wonder if Food Network thinks she can win this on Confidence alone...?? They want more from her and aren't getting it, yet they keep her. What is it? She *does* have ability, but she needs to be not just OK, but "Hot!"--and more often.
      I think Nikki will be going home soon. While some folks think she's not as bad as others say, have there been any posts where someone says they think Nikki is #1 over all and wants her to be the winner?
      I would've watched a show with Emily. We lost a good one tonight. Ohers should have gone sooner.

      • stella says:

        Ethically Martita should have gone home for her oblivious 30 second lapse and her less than tasty burger. Niki's food and presentation was good enough to keep her in. Emily did not cut it, and ultimately retro-rad was going nowhere on FN. Emily wasn't gonna win anyway.

        • LISN says:

          Stella, I agree with you. Martita's 30 second stare was a no-brainer to get eliminated. They didn't need a pretense of having 3 go to the producer's challenge after that humongous blunder.

    • Lloyd says:

      The judges obviously place signficant weight on the "board room" (or whatever they call it) performance, including the on camera work that gets shown in there. It stinks, because Emily's overall work was the best of the three by far. But she did falter (on camera) in the elimination pressure cooker. I can't help but wonder if the decision was mutual in a way. Emily was just not quite ready to open up . . . And that really saddens me, because the show will definitely be much less fun to watch now without her . . . :(

    • maryreed says:

      totally agree. Some of these people on here are just plain boring. I will say that I think Alton's coaching leaves something to be desired. Oh well, I will keep watching, mostly cause nothing else is on, but I am really tired of some of these people. The judges blew it this time!!!

    • Karen says:

      Well said. It is a hard show for me to watch after that elimination. I am so pissed!

    • JEarley says:

      I totally agree - thank you for voicing my frustration, EmilyFrances. I've been so annoyed at this elimination I have no desire to watch this show again - and I've been loyal for 4 seasons!

  2. slwm says:

    I am extremely disappointed with the judges decision to send Emily home... I'm saddened I won't have the opportunity to know more about Emily's decision to go 'Retro Rad'...I thoroughly enjoyed her approach...she knows how to pair her foods with a theme -- a theme of great interest to me -- an avid Food Channel supporter... I truly believe Emily shined above many of the other contestents. I hope she'll make the opportunity to 'shine' on another network food challenge show... You go girl -- I'll definitely be looking out for you!!! Regardles sof what the 'professionals' determined -- you have my vote!!!

  3. MRH says:

    Justin is really entertaining to watch on this show, and you want to root for him because of his personality. Unfortunately I don't see many people who follow him so closely on this show watching a show that he would have on this network. Most people who watch the food network have average cooking skills and are not well enough equipped to be rebellious in their own kitchen.

    • JMT says:

      And on what scientific research do you base that opinion? Do you individually watch each and every one of us cook?

    • SuzyQ says:

      I disagree... We all do not own restaurants and yet Guy's show Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives is a hit.. I watch this show over Guy's Big Bit any day of the week. I would watch Justin simply for the entertainment value...

      • Becky in 'Bama says:

        agree Suzy Q.. Justin has the ''schtick" to be a host for some odd-ball food stuff - not necessarily someone I'd watch to freeze dry food or pickle fish bones...but he is entertaining in a fun sort of way. So does that qualify him to be a "Food Network Star" ? I'm reminded of the guy who hosted a brief stint of "Kid in a Candy Shop" (? Adam Something-or-Other)

    • Jennifer says:

      I disagree. I watch the shows A.) for entertainment B.) for cooking tips. I like seeing creativity in action, even if I don't choose to duplicate it at home.

      Justin is a genius with food. Every week he surprises us with a new twist! His approach is unique and he's teaching us as we watch. I never wanted to try sardine bones until he called them "the potato chips" of the sea. When he misted lemon juice with a spray bottle, I wanted to try that, too! He can make us think about food in a new and creative and fun way.

      We have enough of smiling people making meatballs or Mexican food on TV already. Been there, seen that. There is *no one* doing what Justin is doing!

      His show would be worth watching just to see what he comes up with every week!

      • guest says:

        I agree with you, I loved how he told Marti - remember my tip- he he waved the towel to get rid of her excess sugar topping. He will have great out of the box tips and recipes. HIs show and Emilys will / would have been different on food network.
        It seems they just want to have the same type of cooking show on over and over each season,- these 2 are different and one is already gone.

      • scootersandi says:

        Right on, Jennifer!! Justin is clever & witty and never boring. He's in the lead now, so I guess others are catching on. (I Hope!)

      • Violet says:

        Watch but won't be able to duplicate 'cause we will not be able to locate the ingredients Justin uses.

        • Jerilee says:

          At one time I thought that, but noticed some locally, just never thought to look. What I can't find local, I could easily purchase via the Internet. Not finding things locally is getting to be a rather poor excuse for not trying something new.

      • FunSized says:

        I agree!! Most of the time I don't end up watching the winners shows, but if Justin won I would definatly watch just to see what kind of crazy stuff he was doing!!! :D

    • Luna says:

      'Unfortunately I don't see many people who follow him so closely on this show watching a show that he would have on this network'... Egocentric much? There is a whole spectrum of viewers who what FN for different reasons. While I dont enjoy watching Guy screaming at me while wearing his sunglasses backwards, I do love Alton building sugar molecules out of styrofoam peanuts. As both shows are very successful, it would suggest to us that viewers have different tastes in both content and host on these shows. Justin is gifted in his cooking and brings a very 'outside the box' style to his dishes, along with the fact that he's witty and eloquent in describing his POV I think he would develop into a wonderful addition to the FN line up

      • Sharon says:

        Totally agree. How many viewers would cook an Iron Chef dinner? But we love watching it. My fave show is Chopped--and I'm a vegetarian watching these chefs cook duck's hearts.... I think Food Network should snap up Justin or another network will. He is intelligent, articulate, mature, and creative. Alton will be a hero for selecting and mentoring Justin.

        Justin is just fascinating! He's a keeper. I hope Bobby-Sue don't screw with his head.

        • Food Fan says:

          Dont you think its a little strange, though....that people dont like Martita's 30-seconds of dead air (i didnt like it either)--but that they say even less about Justin dead-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look on-camera and his monotone voice. If people talk about "what-makes-good-TV" then it seems odd that they just ignore those things.
          Tom Pizzica (while his personality was different) is alot like Justin in that he, too, made unsual out-of-the-box dishes. he even had a show for awhile doing just that.
          It fizzled out. No staying power. Isnt on the air anymore.

    • Adam says:

      good point,

    • Suspicious says:

      I wouldn't watch Justin under any circumstances. He is beyond boring!

      • guest88 says:

        I agree! Justin is nauseating to watch. He lisps, he looks like he's wearing those big wax lips and Food Network alreayd has a funny, quirky guy. His name is Jeff Mauro and he is The Sandwich King.

        • FunSized says:

          So your really going to judge Justin because of his LIPS??? Really people, I thought this was the nxt food network star, not "the next person who has the most attractive lips and doesn't lisp occasionally." And sorry, but Jeff Mauro is NOTHING like Justin at all. Justin made checkerboard beek straganoff(thats fun, funky, creative, unique) and Jeff makes SANDWICHES. People- he makes SANDWICHES. How is that quirky???

          • FanFare57 says:

            I agree with you completely. The Sandwich King is an oxymoron. There's nothing majestic about a sandwich (except for the The Earl who invented it). There's nothing clever or interesting either. Plus watching Jeff stuff his face isn't all that worthwhile. Justin' personality and quick wit marry well with his unique approach to preparing his dishes. I actually didn't notice his lips until viewers drew light to them. I don't plan to kiss him any time soon. So, his lips are irrelevant to me.

    • Duck says:

      I don't want to hurt anyone's feeling but I can't stand looking at Justin and those lips of his....Yuck. ....Sorry I don't care how good his food is I wouldn't watch his show......I know I'm I awful to think like this but I can't help it. Personally I'm rooting for Michele.

  4. cheryl plato says:

    Very strongly disagree with sending Emily home, especially with Martita staring dumbstruck at the cameras for over 30 seconds of dead air. Bad decision, wish Emily the best, believe she has a very personal reason for her retro rad persona and couldn't quite verbalize it so glibly.

  5. Charlene says:

    I just can't believe that they let the girl Martitia stay on after having 30 seconds of dead air time.... Did they not hear what their guest saind about being fired!!! Really!!!!

    • Bonnie R. says:

      I agree with you. How could they let Martita continue with having 30 seconds of dead air time! She also became silent at least 2 times before, and claimed it was because of the pressure, and being overwhelmed. How can you watch a show of hers in the future where she might become silent, while staring at the camera? In addition, this was the 3rd time that Nikki was in the bottom. To me, three strikes you're out! She has nothing to offer, and is annoying to watch. Emily was a breath of fresh air, and I always looked forward to seeing her on the show. I have no idea why we all have to learn about each candidate so much. Let's just have them concentrate on their food, POV, and being able to talk well on camera. I am very, very disappointed that they let Emily go home, and still kept Martita and Nikki. This week, YOU GOT IT WRONG!!

    • SuzyQ says:

      Agreed, why have guests on the show giving them input if they are not going to follow their advice...

    • LLM says:

      Totally with you on that one. Martita is starting to remind me of a teacher's pet: the one who gets by with stuff that would get anyone else in trouble. And nobody but the teacher likes a teacher's pet!

      • Annie B says:

        YESSSSS.....you hit the nail on the head! Martita has been "favored" from the start of this season....and yet, has been a disappointment in so many regards...IF one evaluates her with any
        type of objectivity.
        The network has kept her on the show despite all evidence (does she bring anything unique to the table ? Unique cooking skills or POV ? NO ! A genuine warmth that will be attractive to potential viewers on a possible Martita FN show ? GET A GRIP!, NETWORK ! A sense of team spirit and dignity about the great opportunity that being on this show has given her (and all) ? NOPE.
        After her 30-second "lapse" in last night's episode, Martita should have been sent packing !
        How about common sense and a sense of fairness?
        The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Network is clearly aiming to produce yet another Hispanic TV program.

    • Food Fan says:

      Makes ya wonder, doesn't it.
      Martita has had some good performances, before.
      But the judges want more from her. And her Star has dimmed lately. Tonight it got even dimmer.
      Food network keeps her, anyway. Why do you suppose they think its worth it?
      Any ideas?

      • JustSayin says:

        I'm going to just say it. It's probably because the Hispanic community has grown very rapidly and they want to draw in that crowd because it is a really BIG crowd and what better way to get them watching food network? If the population keeps going the way it is, they are going to be the majority in the next 10 years or so. It's all about making money and that is my thoughts on why they are trying so hard to keep Martita.

  6. YMT says:

    Yvan told the story of a lifetime. He was brutally honest and because of that it was impossible not to love him. His food has always been memorable as well. Justin, who seems to be an adventurous cook, ought to rethink the lipstick. I found myself staring at him, more than listening to him!

  7. Ann says:

    I can't believe that they let Emily go. Her concept of Retro Rad has genuine appeal. I am already sick of Nikki, and wouldn't watch her show if she manages to get on the air. And Martita is ok, but still...if I am thinking like a consumer or as a network producer, out of the bottom three, I would go with the one who had the most original concept and one that was NOT LIKE ANYTHING ELSE ON FOOD NETWORK OR COOKING CHANNEL! Nikki's had 3 chances...that's 3 chances from being in the bottom. Everyone seemed to be struggling with how to merge his or her inner self with the public eye. I hope Food Network wises up and realizes their mistake, and gives Emily a show on the cooking channel like they did with Kelsey. I would watch it. I am so disappointed in Bob and Susie. There is nothing....I mean nothing appealing about Nikki...she's another version of Penny.

    • Evelyn says:

      That's so true. I wish I knew how to get her back through popular demand!
      My husband actually voted for her repeatedly.
      How can they be so stupid as to let her go?!?

  8. Jerica says:

    I have enjoyed watching Emily this season and was disappointed to see her go. In my opinion, she definitely had the cooking chops and was good on camera. Martita was the one who really dropped the ball this week, and I figured she would be the one to go home.

    I just can't seem to warm up to Nikki. It's like there is a wall there and she won't let anyone in the competition get past it. That certainly comes out on camera. Marti is very likeable, but I find it almost painful to watch her. I am always cringing, waiting for the mistake. I like Justin, and I am intrigued by Michele.

  9. Allie says:

    Did anyone else notice that they edited Emily's talk with Alton AND her demo video for the judges? Whatever she said never seems to have made it to the broadcast. I wish we could have learned more. I"m sorry to see her go, I would have watched her show.

  10. Frank Demeo says:

    Martita had timing issues but for those that have friends or family in showbiz, you'll know everyone does. That's why they have rehearsals to go over time. In FNS, they don't have those. You think its an accident she didn't get the axe? Nope...Suzie and Bobbie know what they are doing. They know she still carries herself very naturally in front of the cameras.

    Emily just kind of tried to forget the depth and keep pushing "retro rad"...and that sunk her. If she doesn't address it now, what makes you think the network felt safe giving her a show to be scrutinized even further by both the press and the public?

    Martie did better but she still talks at 100MPH and kind of is all over the place. I want to like her because she's a nice lady.

    Yvan....I think he did okay. And that story at the end...man, heart breaker. New found respect for him! Keep doing your thin Yvan!

    Nikki is still fake to me. I just don't feel like she's being real. Sounds totally like she's reading a script.

    Ippy was unimpressive today but, I think he deserves credit for sticking to what he thinks is HIM...even if i means he is not meant for television. Good for him.

    I'm liking Martita and Justin...and yes, I know Justin is still a robot in front of cameras...but he doesn't seem to mind making adjustments. That's important!

    • Wayne says:

      Well great Frank...you're coming around to seeing that great potential in Justin! And you're right. Martie is a nice lady. She seems to have had to overcome an age issue and she keeps plugging along. Kudos for her. She was yelled at on national tv and she understood it & she tries her best to follow the counsel given her. I ..don't mind someone thats a bit of a buffoon, long as they're nice about it. Slightly comedic in the way she rushes around.