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?

More posts from .

Similar Posts

A Letter to Lenny, from the Rebel

Dear Lenny, Out of all the seasons of Food Network Star, I can think of only one other winner who has a personality as big as yours. Congratulations a...

Comments (501)

  1. troy says:

    Ippy was doing what a island boy would probably do. As a islander myself drom of kauai we Hawaiians are very laid back people but we also have anger issues. Thats why the Irish and the British loved Hawaii so much for we are sorta like them. We love to eat, drink and to fight and tell stories and mostly laid back. And like the Irish we even have our own Leppracauns, the Menehune.

    • Juli says:

      Hi Troy. Cool story. Let's hope that Ippy has the luck of the Menehune to have the Food Network give him his own show. Ippy's Voyage to Paradise is a voyage I certain would like to take.

      • guest says:

        Ippys Voyage to Paradise? hmmm I think I'm already there! GO IPPY!!!

      • Food Fan says:

        Im hoping Ippy wins, too.
        If not Ippy, then Yvan.
        But Ippy has sooo much to show us. Hawaii has such an abundance: seafood, hawaiian fruits (ever had a Guava or a Mango?), cocoa, lamb and on and on. Ever had Mahi-Mahi? YUMM!
        Ippy explains his dishes clearly.

        • Food Fan says:

          While I'm at it, for those who try to ctotocize Ippy for bein' too laid back (i dont think he is): wouldn't it be sweet revenge for him to have his show and maybe call it: "Hangin' Loose with Ippy" ? (To hang loose is to "chill" or not get freaked out..i.e...relax, go with it, stay loose).
          or..."Cooking in Paradise".
          Voyage to Paradise is good, too.

  2. troy says:

    sad to see martita go. i tried some of her recipies at home. they were quite tasty. justin is very creative, very much like alton but with personality. I tried doing Nikki's recipies and they were also tasty. She has problems with not being perfect and is a perfectionist like Aarti and her personality is much like Bobbi Flay, extremely confident. The final three will be good cooks but i think they will also reflect thier mentorspersonality as well as thier own. I think Emily had it spot on when she described the three teams.

  3. Guessbm says:

    I believe the results from voting are set... no changes in the past two days, impossible. I am counting the days to watch more of Yvan, and Martie and have some diversion, both are sweet. I like also Ippi and Michele, but Justin sorry, he is creative but his personality s..k, he is so rude, arrogant and impolite. Nikki=Justin, they need some manner to treat others...

  4. logic says:

    I have no idea why people call Justin rude. He helps Martie all the time. Regardless, I am not looking for a new best friend. I want someone who can show me how to cook something interesting. Go Justin!

  5. guess says:

    It is true he helped Martie, but during these moments you can control yourself. However, the others when some one piss you off, then you are really you... it is like in your family or friend setting you are charming, good etc, but when driving, if some one cut you off how do you react? are you the same? well many people get crazy whensomething little happens. Justin was totally disrespectful for the man... he has to show manners, patience, politenes, and he didnot do it.

  6. guess says:

    I insist the vote count is set. Every time there is a mischief in totalizing the addition of individual percentages, it is Justin votes which are fixed, and his amount increases. No way. Since the beginning all his pictures are in the front, all his recipes, he and then Martita got all the attention. This is ridiculous and no professional at all. Please, Eric, and Malcoml, were better chef that Justin. More polite, easy going, more professional. And in the last show Justin blew off... disgusting the way he treated the man. However, Yvan charming, excellent, more than that great, all the excellent comments for his food, the elegance and he is always out of the spotlight, Ippi forget about, the same; Yvan and Ippi are the neglected chidren... Martie, Yvan and Michelle go to the final...

  7. 333 says:

    I think Marti is great she has personality, humor, and she knows how to cook, I dislike Ippy because to me personally he seems boring. I also dislike Nikki and like Yvan.

  8. guess says:

    Blah Blah Blah... we are starting to believe the votes are set. We believe the votes are set... WE HAD A FRIEND/FAMILY REUNION YESTERDAY NIGH AND all the people who were there, they were all voting for Yvan Lemoine, so MORE than 1400 votes did not increase his percentage... uhm uhm not even 1%, not even 0.5%. This is not the first time either. Why FN is most of the time placing the good ones on the back or sending some of them home. If they already have a winner, why keeping the rest contestants, only to fill the space. Honesty, please honesty...

  9. Sumay says:

    I have been voting for Yvan for some time now - all 10 votes and still no change.


  10. elf says:

    There is nothing wrong with Ippy being "laid back". That's who he is, and it's a nice change of pace. We don't necessarily need more forced gaiety. Let him be who he is. Where else are we going to get tropical Italian food done by someone who's relaxed and easy.
    Justin's food is brilliant entertainment personified. I'm not sure how many of us would actually try to cook what he makes (remember the checkerboard?), but his brain runs in different paths than anyone else'. He would be great to watch, perhaps in a show in which he's given discordant or unusual ingredients.
    Michele is solid. And so is her love for New England and seafood. She could have a great show, which New England lovers and seafood lovers would watch and learn.
    You missed out by cutting Emily. She was quirky and fun to watch, and entitled to her privacy. She made good food, real food and would have been a great choice.
    All of this being said, given FN's propensity to name a winner and then give others shows . . . . give all of the above shows. They are ALL different from what's currently on, and would garner their share of viewers, and would never be boring!