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. Hmm says:

    Does anyone else find a disconnect between what is written in the blogs and some contestants fan vote percentage? Call me suspicious, but I find something odd that some have been on the top regardless of their performance on the show, or popularity on the blog.

    I hope my vote counts and isnt being overpowered by a faulty system.

    • MissEllie says:

      I have been wondering about this as well. It seems the a certain someone is continually on top regardless of performance. Makes me go hmmmm!

    • Logic says:

      I don't know if they are messing with it on the back end of the database or having some unpaid interns hit the Martita button on an uncapped IP address, but I call B.S. No way that the type of people who liked Emily are voting in such large numbers for Martita. Also Martita messed up pretty royally, and she was in the lead for a little bit of today, and is of now Justin has a slight rounding error kind of lead (same rounded percent.) I don't buy this at all.

      Not to mention the fact that the eliminations are a nice neat pattern, producer-wise.

      They aren't even really trying to make it look legit, are they?

  2. Mona says:

    Food Network doesn't care what the viewers think, how many losers have Bob and Susie picked in past years?? Just about every "winner" they have picked has had their show cancelled!

    • FN fan says:

      So true ! What makes them so right in who they have picked each year..( most of the shows cancelled, like you said ) so maybe they don't know as much as they think they do...... it really all comes down to their opinion.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Bobby-Sue couldn't pick a winner in a one horse race! Their "instincts" are obviously way off the mark.
      The proof is in the pudding (i.e. ratings). Other than Guy, no one else draws a following of much significance.

  3. SKBL says:

    As posted deep down within comments, here is a link to get Emily Ellyn her own show: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/720/566/966/make-e...

    EE is fresh, original, and will have a HUGE following. There's a large DIY movement, and learning how to use a pressure cooker and how to can are really valuable skills.

    And Susie, how can you pass up the merchandising opportunity? With no one else could you justify pressure cookers, fondue pots, canning supplies, slow-cookers,....

    • Food Fan says:

      When you say:
      ..."And Susie, how can you pass up the merchandising opportunity? With no one else could you justify pressure cookers, fondue pots, canning supplies, slow-cookers",.....
      That is a very good point.
      Perhaps now that Emily is gone, Ippy and his Hawaiia-European twist could offer a big variety of money-items similar to this. Plus, we have the newness of his dishes.

    • Rhonda says:

      Yes! I would try a pressure cooker if I learned more about them especially what to look for when purchasing one.

      • Guest says:

        Alton Brown had a Good Eats episode on this. I cannot remember which it was, but you might be able to Google it.

        • Jerilee says:

          I remember watching that episode. Alton gave me the courage to re-try pressure cooking. Years ago I tried and was one of horror stories you hear about!!! Of course, if I had known not to buy a cooker from an unknown yard sale I wouldn't have had problem!!!!

          Back to point. It was Good Eats episode #402, aired April 18, 2001(season 4), simply called "Pressure".

  4. Natalie says:

    I'm becoming very frustrated with the food network and this show. Last year they let someone stay on the show who was rude and disrespectful to her fellow competitors and this year it seems to me they are eliminating people based on which teams turn it is for someone to go. How else would you explain why Emily would be eliminated just for not being able to share what was obviously a painful personal past and yet they would keep Martita who had just stood there with 30 seconds of dead air or keep Nikki who really hasn't shared anything personal with us except that she has had to get where she is on her own and who has the warmth of a clam. Im sorry it all seems a bit rigged this year, and i swear if i hear them say that Ippy is too laid back im gonna scream. He has one of the best Pov's of anyone. There hasnt been one show that comes close to doing anything about Hawaiian food and that would be a great one to see on the Network. Not every star has to be a Guy or Paula. Laid back can be good.

    • shirelan says:

      I am glad I am not the only one who thinks Ippy's POV is really neat. I would watch his show in a heartbeat!! And I agree--if they say he is too laid back on more time, I am going to scream.

    • SKBL says:

      And speaking of laid back - how abut Ina? And we love her for it.

  5. John says:

    This show needs new judges because right now a rock could do a better job.

  6. quest says:

    http://emilyellyn.com/ Emily's website - I learned a lot and makes me wish she had her own show :(

  7. Joel says:

    Days later, I'm still not feeling remotely interested in watching Sunday's episode. Which is a complete 180 from last week.

    • FN fan says:

      Funny ,.... we're feeling the same way , we 're NOT looking forward to this Sunday either and before we couldn't WAIT for Sunday nights. (sigh). I can see it now...Nikki being in the Producer Challenge for the FOURTH time ,,and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she 's not eliminated again. Is that what we have to look forward to ?

  8. shirelan says:

    Sigh. Now I am really, really annoyed this is the THIRD bad choice Bob and Suzi have made. Really. Emily was not my favorite, but I liked her and the Retro Rad idea well enough. I even got teary eyed when she said she good byes--it was then that I realized she was pretty cool. I am not a Nikki fan--she just rubs me wrong somehow. I have always been lukewarm on Martita, but this week with a 30 second dead air moment and then Bob and Suzi didn't like her food challenge dish!! She so should have been gone~! And I agree with most of the comments about Martie, she seems sweet, but I would never watch her show.

  9. Jason says:

    Let's talk about NIKKI. Gotta give her some props- telling bob and Susie how fed up she was with their schematics. I have a feelin whats being shown, was not the only things she said. This gal has a strong POV and unique one in the sense that no female personas have mastered the grill, and although Bfaly is the man.. we could use a little feminine touch to outdoor and backyard soiree's . She does come off a little tough- if you stand her next to the Sandra Lees and Cotessas of the Food world (ugh, sigh, boring) I personally would like to see a chick, who can throw back a beer, has an edge and isnt your typical demure housewife.

    All of you some how say she is a bitch and rude and all these nasty things- You people need to grow your own brains. You are so manipulated by the editing and what is being portrayed. Have ya thought to take a look at Nikki's casting video on You Tube? This chick looks FUN and CONFIDENT- which in turn is SEXY. If she can cook, like I know Bobby feels she can- then she is a SLAM DUNK.

    • Guest says:

      Nikki, really? Oh wait, you're a guy. Never mind.

      • Jerilee says:

        Oh please, Guest, he's entitled to his opinion. Seems like you have enough of your own.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Jason, I agree with you that Nikki brings the female POV to grilling (and I'm female), So, the word 'chick' is sort of demeaning, btw. I wish she didn't try to turn herself into something she wasn't comfortable with (being sweet and overly upbeat). That said, her flip flop from serious of purpose to breezy was very disingenuous. She bitch-slapped Susie when she complained about being forced into a persona that wasn't her. That may have saved her bacon. However, it shouldn't have because she inadvertently admitted that she was a big phony for the judges.

      • klink6224 says:

        I'm a guy so take this for whats its worth. But I think to a large degree Jason use of the word "chick" was actually meant to be endearing, not demeaning. There is something complimentary about someone who is that comfortable in their own skin (as Jason feels NIkki is) that is disarming and inviting. I'm not saying you and you're feeling about it being demeaning are wrong, you feel what you feel and that is always a truth to you, but I don't believe his intent was to be mean or an off-handed insult. It's like saying about Ippy that he's a "cool dude", its about comfort with the person and being congenial.

    • AnotherGuest says:

      I think it's just because she is so precise and focused on doing everything perfectly that it just comes across bad on camera. She's missing the smile she had when she met Bobby, it's forced now and she's missing the sparkle she had originally. Everything is so well thought out that its Coming across as plastic. But, under other circumstances, she probably would be a fun person and easy to like.

      I would never want to be on this show. It's gotta be stressful as hell!

      • Food Fan says:

        I think you've hit on something!
        Nikki often has a look like she's focused, being precise and looking intently at something.
        That isnt bad. She cares about doing good work. But I think the smile gets lost too often in the process.
        Thats part of it.
        And the other part is: we see the overwhelming importance of not making any negative comments at all about any other contestants, especially in the 1st two episodes. She has had to fight like crazy to overcome that. And she has toned things down. But I think its been more a matter of the viewers and public simply not forgiving her.
        Still, she has been in the pitch-room 3 times...

        • lesliejane says:

          Women who can grill proficiently are not unique to the Food Network or anywhere else, for that matter. FN regulars, such as Paula, Sandra, Ida, Rachael, and, yes, Giada, grill on a regular basis and do quite well at it. Nikki just isn't especially unique or interesting, and her constant declarations of how independent, sassy, fabulous she is are really a veil for a lot of insecurity, IMO.

          • FanFare57 says:

            I can't even turn my grill on without instruction. Therefore, I find Nikki a trail blazer. She had to stand up for herself because Susie demanded an answer to her seemingly abrasive demeanor.

          • Jerilee says:

            That's why I still have my Webber!! Charcoal, kindling, match, there you go!! LOL!! If Nikki wins, and if she uses gas grill, I might watch for grilling tips and pointers (for when/if I get a gas grill!!!).

          • Jerilee says:

            When those ladies grill it's usually on a gril pan in the kitchen. True, they have used an outdoor grill, but a whole program devoted to the grill would be different. I would like a grill show with how to's, tips, and hints. Ina grills outsid, for a party, then one of guests take over, so she's really not teaching grilling. Sandra has how to's for grilling, again for some type of party. I would like to see how to for dinner for just me and my family...no party, nothing fancy, just plain 'ol grilling!!

          • Deanna says:

            Agreed. I am the lady of the house, and totally in charge of the grill here. DH knows I'm better at it than he is!

  10. Vicki says:

    I think Emily's reasons for attachment to that era run very deep. It could be that she was wise in the end to not share them, even though we would have loved to get to know her better. I was reminded of my own immersion in the styles and mindsets of the 40's, in an effort to get to know my mother better, when my mother was thousands of miles away from me. To have described that longing for my mother as an adult would have led to so many wrong conclusions, had I done so with my peers back then. I can't imagine ever laying myself that bare on national television.

    It's in the American culture to demand tears, from the old show "Queen for a Day" to the tradition's renaissance with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters ... is that expectation really fair or right in all cases? And at what point does it seem manufactured - is it always real, or is one responding to the strong expectations of others?

    I saw Emily fight that external expectation for all she was worth. I'm sorry she's gone, but I support her refusal.