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. Lindy says:

    I would love to watch a show that featured retro food. Real retro food never goes out of style. There are so many people who are remodeling their kitchens into what they now call mid-century modern (the 50's to us older folks). Suzie missed a huge opportunity for some good old retro kitchen items, aprons, cookbooks, etc. to be under the Food Network brand. BIG mistake! Her "one bite challenge" produced a delicious (said the panel) food item while Nikki's was awful. Martita's POV is nothing new, and the only person who is ecstatic about the Grill Next Door is Bobby. Grilling is so overdone on food shows. Justin is great and his food is so interesting and new and if Malcom's POV is soul food that's also a show I would watch.

    • Jerilee says:

      Funny you should mention remodeling a kitchen to resemble the 50's kitchen. I own a house that was built in 1953. There were a total of 2 cabinets, double door, one on each side of the sink. The counter, all 10 feet of it was ceramic tile in 2 shades of blue. Totally dysfunctional and user unfriendly. I'm remodeling, to update; gone is the tile counter, in is butcher block, added more cabinets, re-did the linoleum floor, added a dishwasher, now it is modernized, up to date, but it is still a 1953 kitchen, small and not very cook friendly. If I had a new house, that would be different...I could so remodel 50's style and have a functional, cook/entertain friendly kitchen.

  2. logic says:

    I am afraid that Justin will get some 2nd place consolation prize of hosting a hipster "DDD" kind of show, where Justin goes to eat food at trendy restaurants instead of teaching us to cook.

    I am not interested in watching any show where people go to restaurants and eat food. This is boring, and they have no shortage of these shows already. With due respect to Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt and Feasting on Waves, I don't even like these shows when I like the host. I like AB and I like Justin, but I want to see them COOK not eat.

    I want to watch Justin cook.

  3. FanFare57 says:

    Well, Boys & Girls: Place your bets - Who will be offed tonite? Since last week, an Alton team player got eliminated, that means both Justin and Monotonous Martie will survive to cook another day. I think a Giada player will get tossed because she still has 3 pawns (er, cooks) left. Martita seems to have the hidden immunity idol. So, it's down to Yvan or Ippy. Yvan spilled his guts last week and Ippy keeps hearing that he's "too laid back" - What do you all think?

    • FanFare57 says:

      Ooops - I forgot that Bobby has 3 cooks left too. (I forgot about Nikki.) I believe Malcolm will be on the chopping block because we hardly hear from him...

    • Jerilee says:

      If the pattern continues, it's Bobby's turn to loose. They could do a double elimination, but not likely.

    • suzanne says:

      In the preview, they're all complaining about breaking their teeth on shells left in the crab dish. It looks like Michelle is the one making the crab. I say it'll be Michelle or Nikki or maybe even Martita to go. The judges always love Malcolms food. And, no way in h--- it's gonna be my boy Ippy who leaves.

    • Dvorah says:

      Ippy will probably get chopped for being himself. Martita and Nikki seem to have immunity. Maybe Malcolm if he doesn't keep up the "energy."

    • Jerilee says:

      This has nothing to do with FNS. Just had my hair cut. Able to donate 12 inches to make wigs to those who lost hair due to chemo. Mom went through chemo, she has my hair in a wig. What a blessing. This I do to support cancer survivors. I grow my hair just to donate. Others should try it, it is so heartwarming, and exhilarating to know something as simple as hair can mean so much to those that dont have any. It gives comnfidense to continue their fight. Just my teary eyed good deed ffor the day. Try it, you might like it. Getting ready to watch tonight's show. Good luck!!

  4. Someone who is smart says:

    I LOVED EMILY. Its not fair that she went because everyone loved her and it was her first time to the pitch room.....and what happened.......SHE LEFT.Nikki has gone to the pitch room 3 times. She isnt that good. She is in the bottom of the voting chart too.Martita left 30 seconds of nothing but smiling. Whenever she has her chances to tell a story she doesnt! I dont know how she is 1st on the chart....SHE DIDNT DO ANYTHING TO DESERVE THAT. NOW JUSTIN IS THE ONLY GOOD ONE LEFT. GO JUSTIN!!!!!

    • suzanne says:

      Actually, Emily was in the pitch room after the Guy F appearance where they had to do a live show. The whole team had to go to the pitch room. Remember?

  5. Emilee says:

    Emily had such a homespun, unique idea to offer to Food Network. She, unlike Niki (Mrs. Grilling Queen who wants a show EXACTLY like Bobby Flay...?) and Martita (Mexican Made Easy?) had a brilliant, contagious love for food and the past. This combination should have brought her eons farther in this competition. There will never be another contestant like Emily anywhere! I'm extremely disappointed and I can only hope that Justin, the only other contestant who has a POV that is truly unique and clear, will win Americas hearts.

  6. David says:

    Emily did mention briefly that she got those 50s recipies from church cookbooks.

  7. Dvorah says:

    So how come they pick one from each team when they JUST announced that each person was going to be judged on their own?

    And yes, I agree that Martita or Nikki should have gone. Nikki is phony, and why "Grill Next Door"? I get the pun, but don't get the idea. Did hers break? And 30 seconds of dead air is totally unacceptable. Let's just stand there and smile and it'll be alright. Not everything they do is going to be taped. They will have real audiences. Say SOMETHING for goodness sake! DUH!!!

    If you visit EE's website, you'll see this is who she is. Yes, I know you can put anything on there. But she doesn't come across as phony. If she had a tough past and hasn't completely dealt with it, why should she have to expose herself? I don't hear the other FNS doing it. Just let 'em cook!!!!

  8. Jerilee says:

    Well the pattern continues. Malcom is out.

  9. Kelsey says:

    I just can't believe as strong as she was, they just chucked her like that. SO SAD!!! I really wanted her to go far!! Retro Rad would be my favorite cooking show by far on the Network!!!

  10. Sara says:

    YES! they made the right choice this week. this is the order of who goes next...in my opinion:
    JUSTIN....should win