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. New Nikki Fan!!!! says:

    Watch this video and change your mind about NIkki!! http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/06/28/spice-u...

    • NCGirl says:

      I just watched the video and I agree, Nikki came across as much more relaxed and personable than in the competition of the show. I think any of the contestants, given a 5 minute slot to explain what they are doing would do so much better than in the heat of competition with 30-90 second on-camera presentations, not to mention preparing their food in a very short period of time. She didn't have to "perform" for any judges.
      What I'm wondering though - are the currently "active" contestants allowed to go on broadcast t.v. and do this? Somehow it doesn't seem right - remember, we the viewing audience have to judge and ultimately vote the contestants by what we see on the Food Network show, not on other shows, and I mean current shows, not just some shows or videos from the past prior to the competition.

      • Guest says:

        Good point, NCGirl. In some of the earlier blogs, some of the current contestants were blogging as well (I saw posts from Yvan, Nikki, Linkie who was thanking everyone,.....) and I remember blogging back to one of the contestants stating whether it was wise to post comments while the show was going on. I thought there were clauses in their contracts. One never knows when someone will slip with a comment and give a clue as to will happen during the series. But with some of the contestants (Nikki and Martita, from what I understand from these blogs) being guests on tv shows, it makes me wonder if they are NOT the winner of the Next FN Star.......

        • TV Guy says:

          ALL of the contestants have been making appearances in the past few weeks, be it local news segments, newspaper interviews etc. It is part of the duty to promote the show. Just like they are to keep up with Social Media, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and everything. It only in turn creates the best platform for their future- win or not. Historically, FN Stars that have not won... have gone on to have longer and more lucrative career so its anyone's game here. So by Nikki and anyone else appearing on a broadcast segment does in no way mean he/she is not an "active" contestant.

        • NCGirl says:

          Neither one could be the winner (at least not yet) - the winner hasn't been chosen yet because, we the viewing audience, vote for the winner (unlike last season). My thinking was that maybe Nikki was "sent packing" after the Florida competition which will be shown this Sunday. But, I would assume that they wouldn't be able to do what Nikki did until the finale of the show was over. I believe they're under contract not to disclose anything while the competition is ongoing. We'll find out this Sunday if Nikki was indeed eliminated. It has to be either her or Martita.

    • suzanne says:

      Thanks. Yes, the same thing with Judson and Kara. Someone had put up videos of them together in a local Chicago show, and they were both also, so much easier to watch. Way more comfortable out from under the intense scrutiny of the star judges. You guys know this part of the competition is long since over don't you? The South Beach food and wine taster was in February. If you notice, the contestants have on jackets in Miami. And there's no leaves on the trees in New York. Maybe the whole thing is over, huh?

    • genius says:

      GRRRRRRRRRRR. Nikki is fake. We all know the real Nikki isnt like that. She didnt do anything that great in the video. I still dont like nikki.I hope she goes soon. Bobby Flay and Nikki would both have the same show......grilling.........if she wins...I HOPE SHE LOOSES.

  2. felicia says:

    Who is voting for Martita? From the comments on the blog she is not a favorite. I would not watch a show with her as a host. We do not need another mexician food show. And she is hard to understand. I would however watch Justin, Ippy and Emily. They all have interesting things I could learn.

    • sammy b says:

      I wondered the same thing...and I TRIED to vote today and it said :You can vote tomorrow!!!!! Why can't I vote today???? This is rigged and I AM DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      They already have a winner chosen. I am NO longer watching the show!

    • Addys says:

      I am voting for Martita. I like her and the food she prepares. She is inexperienced in front of the camera. That can be taught or caught but warmth cannot. She has warmth, the kind of warmth in the people I like to hang with. She draws me in.

  3. KCK says:

    Sorry to see Emily go at least she was entertaining even if you didn't like her POV, but really NIkki and Martita how long do we have to wait and how many times do you need to be on the bottom before enough is enough!

    As much as I don't like Justin and still would not watch a program with him since I don't think most people can relate to his food and I don't see anyone running out to attempt his recipes at least you now know what makes him tick.

    Martie continues to hang in there despite herself but then again look who won an Emmy, Sandra Lee.

    I felt someone who really put himself out there was Yvan and I'm sorry he didn't come out on top, that took guts.

    But seriously..........can we just get this over.

  4. Addys says:

    In addition to his food and on-camera presence I love Justin and his cool James Dean vibe and hair. I haven't watched the early FNS episodes so perhaps this was answered and maybe someone can enlighten me. Justin's lips are very red, not a bad thing, just interestingly different. My children had lips this red when they were very young but they toned down as they matured. So, are Justin's lips naturally that color?

    • Jerilee says:

      There have been a lot of theories about his lips; camera make-up, lipstick, hi-def TV, lighting, and natural. My opinion is it's natural. I have seen redish lips on a lot of people on TV.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I was sad to see Emily go too, because her cooking interested me. All of the dishes that she made looked like ones that I might try. I liked her Home Ec spin on things too because I would love to do more of the crafty side of cooking, like canning, making quick breads, etc. She must have something really dark in her past to be so unwilling to open up, and her retro look seems like a good suit of armor. I do wonder about this, though. We don't necessarily see the personal side of other Food Network stars. We never really got the "dirt" behind Alton Brown, for example. I have no idea about his personal history. However, he makes it interesting enough that it doesn't matter. This current season has shown me a lot about him though and I like him more than ever now.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I am surprised Nikki didn't go home too. I just don't connect with her. She comes across as haughty, and nothing that she has cooked so far really intrigued me.

  7. Edward says:

    Am I disappointed with Emily leaving? Yes, but as expressed by FN bigwigs, they were concerned that the Retro-Rad motif was just a fad and would not last. With the number of contestants narrowing and the "final decision" resting with the viewers, they opted to remove her now to avoid what they viewed as a potential problem. Fair, NO but the network needs to feel confortable with whoever they wind up invsting time and money in.

  8. Jerilee says:

    I watched the video from the LA station, and I have to say what I saw was very different from what I saw on FNS. The Nikki I saw was friendly, informative, and congenial. Not at all "plastic". FN allows us to see what they want. Why they wanted us to see "their" Nikki, I don't know. I hope our posters keep in mind the editing let's us see what THEY want, not what is real. I was against Nikki, but will take into account that FN is after ratings, and judge accordingly.

    • FanFare57 says:

      That's interesting. I wonder why there is such a large disparity regarding her perceived personality. Could it be editing her to the negative for dramatic effect?

      • Jerilee says:

        I don't know, could be. But, I'm very disappointed in this season. I'm not happy with the team format. I'd prefer the old concept of competing with yourself. The mentoring is ok, I guess, can't quite put my finger on why it's bugging me. I would love to be a fly in the studio so I could see everything they don't want us to see, then maybe some of their decisions would make sense!!!!

    • FanFare57 says:

      The team format has one positive: a support system for the cooks. They have the "hook" to do their best for their mentor and team mates. However, I believe the "powers-that-be" just wanted to do something different this season because their tried and true system was tired. It was gamble but somewhat half-baked. There really are too many flaws for this system to be viable. The most important flaw is that poor cooks slip through the cracks based on their team mates' successes.

      • Jerilee says:

        Perhaps mentors should be available to all contestants. Eliminate teams. All contestants compete for themselves, with tips, hints, advise from the mentors. I don't know, but feel a drastic change is needed. Give each contestant a protein, starch, veg, cook something, best wins. I don't know, this whole thing is just bugging me. Maybe I should just let it go..k sera, sera....what ever will be. (ok grammar police, I know stuff is wrong, it's been a long, hard day)...

  9. lisa says:

    If they think retro rad is a fad, maybe they should check out what is popular on PINTREST. A great way of putting your finger on what is current, and what is sustainable. Recipes, party ideas, creativity, and LOTS of vintage inspiration .... Retro Rocks