Aarti’s After Party: Thinking on Your Feet

by in Food Network Star, July 8, 2012

team giada

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 was all smiles after watching Martie, Yvan and Michele do their demos this week.

In fact, after watching Michele stretch for an extra minute by talking about how looking for holes in the sand is a marker for good clams, I wrote this down on my notepad: “Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy!”

Let’s face it: There’s enough stuff on TV that leaves you with a sour puss on your face, or wringing your hands over the fate of the world.

Watching a show about food is a warm, happy place — somewhere to escape at the end of a long day.

There’s a direct connection between how much fun you’re having and how much fun your audience has as a result. Ask any actor, comedian, dancer, public speaker or now, the future Food Network star.


That was what I loved about Yvan’s demo: He did he not allow the audio issues to throw him from the cooking and the stories he wanted to tell, nor did he let the issues steal his joy. In fact, he used the situation as an opportunity to amplify it, speaking all the louder to be the boldest Yvan we’ve seen yet; I’m starting to see this as his trademark reaction. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that he barreled through a scary situation when he told the story of rummaging through dumpsters for food as a kid. This time, he barreled right through the broken microphone. Try to throw Yvan and he’ll come right at you, beaming that winning smile at you in such a way that you’ll move out of the way and reach to pinch his cheeks.

Martie did the same thing. Remember at the beginning of the season when she fretted about being the oldest contestant on the show? Well, I think her “extra years” on the planet worked to her advantage here. She laughed off her missing fish with the kind of perspective that you can only get from having the rug pulled out from under you over the years.

“That’s OK, we can wing it,” she said. Why, yes, you can, Martie. What an understated show of confidence. That little moment made me want to hang out with her, confide in her when rugs have been pulled out from under me so she can share her wisdom whilst feeding me a little Southern comfort food — and that’s what will keep people watching. Brava.

philip ippy aiona

I found this episode fascinating because I think the best way to get to know someone is to try to throw them for a loop — how they react is incredibly telling. Ippy, who is normally such a laid-back fellow, showed a flash of anger, which I actually loved seeing because it sort of rounded him out a little. Justin resorted to intellect and wit when faced with a challenge, but he then showed a somewhat scornful side that he has to watch; you don’t want people thinking you’re looking down your nose at them. Martita, who’s had trouble telling stories in the moment because she’s so into the cooking, clung even more to the cooking when one of her key ingredients was taken away. Nikki, whose poise can sometimes come off as a bit artificial, fell completely off course. This is something I can relate to, having done a similar thing during my demo challenge on Star — I didn’t finish my dish either. I get it. It’s so frustrating.

After winning, I remember doing my very first demo at the New York City Wine and Food Festival. I was so incredibly nervous; the crowd wasn’t particularly receptive, staying quiet through most of my demo. I felt like a huge whopping failure, but I was close to the finish line. I just had to whip some cream for my “Come ‘ere Puddin Pie,” but since it was so warm in the studio, the cream wasn’t cooperating. I have a stubborn perfectionist streak, so while I plastered a smile on my face and batted my false lashes with all my might whilst the stand mixer whirred away, on the inside I was having the proverbial cow. Suddenly, something took over and I said, “You guys know what whipped cream looks like, right?”

The crowd murmured yes.

“OK, use your imagination and imagine a big dollop of cream on this piece of pie. Cool?”

I didn’t think it was particularly funny, but the crowd started laughing. And I started breathing a little easier. Suddenly, I was enjoying myself again.

I think I may have gone on about this point ad nauseam, but it’s so appropriate for this episode that I’ll say it again: Perfection. Is. Boring. Perhaps it's beautiful, but it's boring. Thinking on your feet, dodging and weaving, picking yourself up again after a stumble? That is the most fascinating, rewarding thing to do and watch in the world.

What did everyone else think?

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Comments (501)

  1. jan says:

    Emily would have been great in the last 2 episodes in Florida! Unfortunately I can only imagine how much fun she would have been. I hope we'll see her again, maybe on the cooking channel!

  2. SKBL says:

    FN now has a poll asking who you'd like most to be brought back. Go to http://blog.foodnetwork.com/star-talk/ and scroll to July 5th.

    Maybe we can get Emily Ellyn back!

  3. alacarl says:

    I must remember..."Thinking on your feet, dodging and weaving, picking yourself up again after a stumble? That is the most fascinating, rewarding thing to do and watch in the world." As much as some of us might not like that, or how it was demonstrated, it is what we admire the most in our FNS.
    If it were a double or triple elimination, there would be a different discussion, but this was for the most obvious stumble on the last show..

  4. Guest says:

    I just loved how Alton coached his team before the challenge by asking them what do they anticipate could go wrong. I'm impressed how by his coaching and the practical feedback he's been giving his team throughout the season... Sorry to say I don't think Bobby and Giada make as much effort as mentors, they seem too self-interested. Alton is an awesome mentor, and I hope to see more of Alton mentoring FN star finalists next season!

    On a separate note watching Alton's team crying in the preview is making me so nervous for next episode! I will be so angry if Justin or Martie goes home nooooooooooooo =(

  5. Sue says:

    From the previews, it's killing us what Alton's expression of shock means...wondering what that's going to be about ... and Susie says of someone's upcoming performance 'slightly bizarre and completely unforgettable'. Wow! Can't wait. My favorites are #1 Justin, #2 Michelle. Don't think any others will really make it. Maybe Martie because she has really come a long way and has surprised me. But I love Justin, don't get your comments about him having low energy or being monotone. I think he's very clever.

  6. guessbm says:

    You are totally correct. Yvan has gone voluntarilly to some elementary and middle-aged schools in Queens, NY, to work with general and special education children, from different backgrounds, some with many disadvantages, not only to teach them how to eat more properly, but also how to prepare food from scratch like pasta. Yvan has brought also hope for those children who face many challenges every day, or their performance in the school is not so great, for others these presentations are an addition to their learning process. yvan is charming, transparent, approachable, funny, humble. Yvan is an asset to FN, and he will reach all age audiences

  7. guinn says:

    Michele is by far the most fun to watch!. Justin is nothing more than a hipster with bad hair and lipstick. The kids voting for him only like his ski8nny jeans, not his personality...which is what will get viewers. Paula Dean's food sucks but she is funny as hell to watch.

  8. Kim says:

    I really am rooting for Ippy to win this! How refreshing would it be to have the tastes of the islands brought to our doorsteps! One of my favorites is Ina... does she jump up and down?.. NO... she is soothing and relaxing as she presents and cooks her dishes. Think about it... same thing that Ippy is doing now. How long have we been loving Ina?... years and hopefully more years to come!!!

    • Juli says:

      Ippy's Voyage to Paradise, here I come!

    • Food Fan says:

      Isnt it funny how some of the Cooks who talk faster and louder have shows that dont last? (Guy's Big Bite seems to be hard to find. Tom Pizzica and his off-the-charts over-the-top everything is no longer on the air). Easy going Ina. is still here. Sandra Lee is still here. Loudness doesnt last. And just because it isnt loud does NOT mean its dull. The Pioneer Woman is easy-going but is intelligent and warm and not dull. Susie F. really over-does the whole energy thing. And the "stories". Enough already!

  9. Joyce says:

    So which group is going to lose a member this Sunday, July 15 2012? I really hope it is not Alton's team!!

    • guest says:

      Are they keeping one from each team or are they picking the top 3?

      • Guest says:

        I think they are doing the one from each team thing..ugh! I love Alton's team and really think the both deserve to stay. It will suck to see one of them leave :(