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. DeeDee says:

    I've seen a lot of people posting how easy some mishaps were over others. I understand your point, but at the same time, I think the problems actually fit the people they were given to very well. Where a blender not working would have not effected many of the contestants, it was a real challenge for Nikki. Which goes to show that she CANNOT overcome even a small complication in her very polished and well thought out presentation. The slightest bump in her plan enables her to continue. Not good.

    And I think that is what they were trying to do, fit the problem with the personality and see if they can overcome it. Obviously the contestants who had the more challenging problems were thought to be well more advanced in dealing with small mishaps and got to play the "hard" version of the game instead of "easy" version.

    That being said, Nikki and Martita should have gone to the pitch room and they should have had another FIRST on FNS and sent BOTH packing.

    Just my opinion.

    I still miss Emily. I really liked her.

  2. DeeDee says:

    I think that next season they should take contestants from previous seasons, team them up and then we don't need to actually watch any progress in the cooks. We can just enjoy this "team" game they have going on.

  3. TryingToBeNice says:

    Giada sure could use a high five. TO THE FOREHEAD! C'mon woman, we aren't in high school so stop acting like a child and give your team the good advice they expect out of you. I couldn't stand that she was, down to the last minute, coaching Martita more than Ippy. She sure didn't want Martita to go and it SHOWED. Really shouldn't be so obvious about your favorites...

  4. Guest2012 says:

    After watching this episode.Martie and Yven,these two came out the strongest for the challenge.Which I'm glad for Yven.Because I was worried that during from this episode,that he was gonna be eliminated.I guess next week is the finale.Any Justin fans out there? Tommrow is the last chance to vote! So to all Justin fans vote for Justin! I'm rooting for Justin,and Yven.But eh its anyone game.

  5. Karen says:

    Can someone tell me who will actually vote for the winner? Is it the viewing public or a group of people that FN has hired? To be perfectly honest, I feel the winner will either be Justin or Ippy. FN does not need another griller, they have Bobby for that. And not another southern cook, thats what Paula is for. New England seafood is way to expensive for the general public, so that rules out Michele. FN needs a new variety show different from anything they are already viewing. Ippy or Justin would fill the void, Justin is quick on his toes and his comments are hilarious! I loved it when the audience member asked how long he had been cooking and he replied " about 2 minutes" That was awesome! And next year, thjey need to have Michael Symons as a mentor. There is one man with so much class and the stardom has not gone to his head, like 95 percent of the FN stars. I love watching him on The Chew! That show is far more superlative than FN. He is such an all around great guy, as well as Duff Goldman. Alton is just plain right rude!

  6. ewoonj says:

    Does this mean that there will be one finalist per mentor? If so, Justina and Martie who are currently leaders in the viewer's poll, cannot both be awarded a pilot no matter how well they do. Does the foreshadowing in the previews mean that Justin who has been in front all along blows it in the end? Or, is it to mislead the viewer into thinking that so there will be some suspense?

  7. Kathryn.Ogden says:

    I have been a loyal fan for years. I am still watching and enjoying Food Network while in my early 60's. I would definitely watch Justin. The one contestant that I think needs to leave is Michelle.

  8. yuki says:

    Its hard to say.Who's gonna go to the finale.Since its next week is the finale.Its hard to say who will win.But part of me think that this show could be rigged.Because I find an prediction of who "might" be the next Food Network Star.But I'm not goin to take it seriously.The determination will come down to us when the super vote open tonight.But I hope Justin wins ^_^

  9. Tulip says:

    I don't like the new format this season. Too many talented people have been eliminated, because it was their team's "turn" to lose. I liked Emily way better than Martie and Eric was much more talented/creative than Nikki

  10. terrie says:

    Justin is my favorite, he is different, innovative and eccentric. Martie did a 180. I guess she began to get more comfortable as she went along. Martita lost her confidence. I liked Nikki she was very articulate and had screen presence. Michelle bores me. and makes me wonder did she wash her hands before cooking?