Aarti’s After Party: Take It From Paula

by in Food Network Star, July 1, 2012

Paula and Bobby Deen
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.

I, for one, adore Paula Deen. I remember when she appeared on my season of Food Network Star — the first things I saw were her crystal blue eyes and that trademark silver shock of hair. I lost it.

Much like Martie did this episode.

“Paula DEEEEEEEEEN!” I yelled and collapsed in a fit of excited giggles.

And I see her have the same effect on the contestants every season. She manages to dismantle even Alton’s poker face with her signature warmth, drawl and feistiness. So what is it about Paula that future Food Network stars can learn from?

A rock-solid point of view

You think Southern food, you think Paula. You think Southern humor, you think Paula. You think Southern family gatherings, you think Paula. Her POV (as Bob likes to say) is rock solid. It may not appeal to everyone, I’m sure. There was a time, I’m told, when some people may have looked down their noses at Southern cooking. No more. These days, it’s all the rage; people are talking about bourbon rather than Scotch, ribs rather than filet mignon and molasses (or even sorghum syrup) rather than honey or maple syrup. We can’t get enough of it. And neither can Paula. And I think that’s the key here: Paula is passionate about her style of cooking and the culture that surrounds it.

So is Michele; I loved when she talked about the no-nonsense, take-me-as-you-see-me attitude of New Englanders (a character trait that made me fall in love with my Boston-born husband) and how she got a bit breathless as she discussed the sunsets over the islands that will “sweep you away.” It’s that kind of passion and pseudo-geekiness that will make both you and your food shine.

Malcolm, on the other hand, didn’t seem quite as jazzed about the soul food concept he was shilling. Susie called him on it, asking if he thought it was beneath him. You can’t fake it. You’re either wild about the food you’re sharing with people or you’re not. There’s no in-between. At least, not if you want to be a Food Network star. Right, Paula?

Ippy Aiona

Delicious food and recipes that work

Heck, I know that if I decide to treat myself to Paula’s mac ‘n’ cheese recipe it’s going to be daggum good and authentic. Paula has personality for days, but you know that she wouldn’t have lasted as long as she has without fantastic, reliable recipes. It should go without saying that if you want to win this competition your food has to be good – consistently.

When I think about consistently good food during this season, I think of Ippy. This week in particular, his food not only sounded delicious, but the plates looked beautiful. Miso yaki Chilean sea bass cooked on the grill? Tasty and doable. I also can’t wait to try his tip about cooking vegetables in a foil packet on the grill, since I’m not a fan of grilled vegetables in general.

While Justin’s soup sounded refreshing, if you hurt Miss Paula, you’re in trouble. (Although, don't worry, friend; I nearly burnt Paula’s tongue with my tri-tip taco and she still likes me!)

Michele Ragussis


In a way, Paula is much like Michele: This is who I am, take it or leave it. There’s no compromising on who she is, and that kind of authenticity is magnetic. It’s probably why we all refer to her by her first name only. When she’s on camera, I always feel like she’s talking directly to me. That’s a skill that every Food Network star needs to master – and one I’m still trying to perfect.

While I’m falling for Ippy all over again, I do wonder what will happen when he’s no longer in the sand and surf. He’s kind of like a reverse vampire: cold and darkness are his Kryptonite. Can he deliver that sunny disposition no matter how many gray clouds are hanging in the sky on any given day? And while Nikki does seem to have found a better middle ground, I’m still waiting for the real Nikki to please stand up. Bobby Deen’s reaction to her was pretty astute: He didn’t have anything negative to say about her, and that’s where he left it. Show us your warts, people!

What did everyone else think?

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Comments (775)

  1. BJB says:

    I apreciated that they let Micheal Gruber make some comments which were aired and not let him just sit there and be overshadowed by his "over the top" wife. Of course, she's why he was there at all! My problem is Marti is party and so is Artie, how will that be handled if she should win over the fellas?

    • Mom o 3 says:

      Martie has a website called Martie Knows Parties so maybe she would call it that. Aarti does Indian food so they don't do the same thing. I hope she does win. I have been posting to let people know how great she is! I've been following her for 3 years now and really think she is a real star. For her live shows, she always has a huge crowd and standing room only because she is a lot of fun to watch and she's really good at what she does. Nothing against the others but she's head and shoulders above them.

  2. Mamachula says:

    FOOD FEAST 365: THE OFFICIAL FUN HOLIDAY COOBOOK by Yvan Lemoine... There is a a food holiday for each day at The Library of Congress, now you have a Cook book

  3. Mamachula says:

    I got an answer for all of you... http://www.flickr.com/photos/ata08/69462668/in/se... AND http://www.flickr.com/photos/ata08/69462810/in/se... AND
    FoodFest 365!: The Officially Fun Food Holiday Cookbook [Paperback]
    Yvan Lemoine (Author) and Comidas USA: Una coleccion esencial de recetas clasicas y reconfortantes de Estados Unidos (Spanish Edition) by Yvan Lemoine (Sep 25, 2012)
    Google YVAN LEMOINE or go to youtube... :)

    • Monte says:

      Stop spamming the boards.

      Yvan isn't going to win this thing. Everything except the finale has been taped. It's Team Giada's turn to lose a team member this week, and Giada likes Martita and Ippy too much. So bye, bye Yvan.

  4. suzy says:

    Guest, Oh boy...I think you might be right about the Target consolation prize to Ippy. I think Ippy has the background to really give FN something new. What's their problem in not seeing it. B&S have struck out nearly every time with their choices.
    I believe Justin is too too quirky with his food, and Martita would be redundant to other FN latin shows.
    I have never believed for a second that out of the blue Justin soared up in the votes and has stayed on top. I don't doubt that the poll was manipulated to make us accept that Justin could win - really, who has time to do all that voting - I guess Alton has a lot of power at FN and they don't want to ruffle him. Puhleeze...Justin's POV is not about cooking food, it is about playing with food. Could FN just give us a cooking show??

  5. foodnetworkstarfan says:

    Malcom,he shouldn't had gone home.At least his attitude is more positive and more better than Nikki.Malcom,should've been given an second chance.It feels like the elimination thing was rigged.Seeing the pattern of who's been booted off.So someone in Team Giada,is going home next.I don't know who's the final 3.I guess we're gonna find out sooner or later.I'm guessing that elimination producer challenger.More or less teammate vs aganist their own teammate.I mean before the final round or something.If Nikki's staying for the final round.I'm not voting for her.

  6. Imthatchick says:

    This new season of Food Network Star baffles me! I somehow feel that more attention is given to the mentors instead of the contestants. Although I really love Alton Brown and feels he does a marvelous job! His one liner jokes to Giada is hilarious. Here are three of them. "Don't touch me", "Well, it would be nice to here her say that", It's a good thing we've already eaten". Thank you Alton Brown for making us laugh!! haha Bobby Flay seems quite boring to me and does not defend his team when they are being judge. Giada shows favoritism on her team. It's clear that she wants boring Martita to win. Alton shows the most depth. He explains to his team what needs to be done. He really hope Justin wins this thing.

  7. Neal says:

    It's been clear to me since the Chopped challenge that Justin should be the winner of this competition, but the person I thought would win in any reality show competition never does. So who will knock off Justin? Here is how I'm handicapping it from least likely to most likely: Martita, Michelle, Marti, Yvan, Ippy, and Nikki.

  8. Neal says:

    Martita: How the network has been so patient with this underachiever and eliminated Eric and Emily after one bad week is amazing.

    Michelle: I've never seen a tattooed and pierced up person who is so awkward at times. Very likeable person, but I'm not sure that her ode-to New England style comes across from her that well.

    Marti (sp?): I like her personality, but don't we already have a Paula Dean? I know they are not exactly the same, but I don't think she would add a unique perspective to the network.

  9. Neal says:

    Yvan: Good guy, but one of the weaker cooks left.

    Ippy: Great cook and great look. I think it's awesome that he hasn't compromised his personality for this competition. He could have a great bring Hawaii to your home kind of show, but he's one flat week away from being eliminated.

    Nikki: Can't stand her smirky, unwarranted arrogance (especially for someone who has been to the pitch room three times) and her disdain for cooking for kids is off putting (remember the Guy episode when she made a face after learning that her team's challenge was to cook for kids?). Still, she knows how to play to the camera, and the network would love to have a "hot chick with balls" bring in a young male audience demo. She's dangerous and will probably win and really piss me off.

    • Guest says:

      I'm sorry, but I don't find her to be a "hot chick" at all. She has that "Real Housewife" face, which is like one of Madame Tussaud's wax figures. Why would she ruin her face with cosmetic procedures when she is only 31??? I guess that's the way they roll in the OC...

      • Tanya says:

        I know Nikki and have worked with her.. She has not had ANY plastic surgery or procedures on her face. Have you seen other pics of her besides random FN clips? Her IMDB page? She is a tall, slender, gorgeous girl who hardly wears makeup... not sure where you see the "plastic". Her lips are real and so are her cheeks. Those interview clips and FN photos do not make anyone from that show look all that great. I really wish you would please not start stupid shallow rumors about procedures that she hasn't had.

        • Guest says:

          I have seen older pictures of her on her IMDB page, and she looks very different in those pictures. (Looks like someone has deleted the evidence, because those pictures aren't there anymore.) The shape of her nose is different, and her cheeks look natural.

          Wait, I found this picture via google:

          This is what I'm talking about.

          And, speaking of "stupid and shallow," those boudoir pictures on her IMDB page are only going to detract from her credibility as a serious chef.

          • logic says:

            I don't care about her looks. Plastic surgery or not I would not watch her show.

            The link was tres interesting. So she has been into theater and made a film?
            So she just wants to be famous, I guess. So now her conduit is food, huh?


          • Wiliam says:

            You are crazy!!! Her nose is the same and her cheeks too! She may have gained a couple pounds while filming or since that picture on IMDB. Clearly she was blonde back then so must have been years ago. And who cares if she was originally an actress!? That explains why she has such great camera skills! ALL of these contestants want to be famous! No one on this show is trying to be a Michelin Star Chef- They wanna be TV Personalities.

            Kudos to Nikki to finding a route that combines her passion for food and entertainment! I hope she wins. She brings a new level of confidence to the Food Network world and some sexiness. Nothing wrong with that. Frankly, i'm sick of Contessa and Paula Deen. Not everyone is demure housewife!

          • logic says:

            She has a movie credit as late as 2012. She is still trying to be an actress. If she wants to be an actress then that is what she should be. Not a TV chef.

          • Guest says:

            Since she apparently can't hack it as an actress, she's found a new way to get her mug on the cameras by going on FNS. Pretty brilliant move, in my opinion.

          • LISN says:

            It worked for Bethenny Frankel (another actress outcast turned reality star / cook). OR Nikki changed her mind for her future goal. People do change their minds on majors, careers, locations, avocations, hobbies, their hair color. It's called personal growth.

        • NotBuyingIt says:

          Like...who cares anyway?? Get a life. The point IS she does not have that spark of stardom anywhere in her little body dearie.

    • remingtondesk says:

      your proud of ippy for not changing his style yet nikki tells bob and susie to their face she is just going to be her and she is arrogant? also in the producers challenge is the only place on this show where they cannot edit it. The minute they are talking to camera is all their personality so that should say something about how real she is.

      • logic says:

        Actually, that was one of the few things I liked about Nikki. They really need to stop telling people to be genuine and then try to change them. Tweaks are one thing, but they don't leave it at that.

  10. Guest520 says:

    I would watch any of the finalists that are left, with the exception of Martita or Nikki. My two favorites would have to be Ippy and Michelle though. Ippy did better when he was on the beach perhaps that's where his show could be taped. I think Michelle would loosen up when she was no longer in a competition. I find neither Martita or Nikki very personable. They seem kind of phony or put on. I guess the same could be said of Justin, but on him (and Emily) it just looks quirky. I would watch just to see what they would come up with next. To sum it up...please ANYONE but Martita or Nikki.