Aarti’s After Party: It All Comes Down to You

by in Food Network Star, July 16, 2012

Final Four - Season 8 Food Network StarAarti 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.

Deep breath.

I imagine there are a lot of deep breaths happening in the homes of four particular people this week. As I type, four separate hearts are probably beating wildly. Four minds may be letting their imaginations run wild. Four souls might be praying for four particular outcomes.

An outcome that depends on a click of your index finger.

Oh, the drama of it all!

Sure, we’ve all seen our fair share of reality competition shows, so perhaps the novelty has worn off, perhaps we’ve grown jaded. But having had my own future held in the hands of others, I’d just like to remind you of what you have the power to do right now.

When I was given this treasure of a job, my life completely changed. There I was, the granddaughter of a rice farmer in a small Indian town, catapulted into the living rooms of people across the United States of America, sharing the food that brings me joy. It was the climax of not just my dream but the dream of my grandmother, an amazing cook, who had died before I was even a twinkle in my father’s eye. Just like that, I was given the opportunity to do a job that I had played at doing when I was just a toddler, arranging my cooking set just so. Little did I know that the Play-Doh chapatis I’d rolled out before my pretend camera would be great practice for the real ones I’d be rolling out before six real cameras and millions of eyes 30 years later!

Aarti's Winning Moment

In just one moment, my purpose on earth emerged from the mist that had hidden it from view for so many difficult years, forcing me to believe the lie that since I was purposeless, I was useless. As the sheet fell and revealed my face on the wall next to Giada’s and Rachael’s photos, it dealt a crushing blow to that cursed self-doubt that had plagued me my entire life.

It had all the makings of a fairy tale. Except this is real.

See? This isn’t just a small decision you hold in your hands. This is a big deal. You get to change someone’s life — for good! You get to be the fairy godmother to these four Cinderellas ! So consider this carefully. If you don’t agree with the winner, but you didn’t vote, then you don’t get to gripe about it.

Final Four

Whether it’s a vote for the quirky rebel with a trademark pompadour and rebellious cuisine whose show promises to fill the gap left by a certain Mr. Brown; or a vote for the chatty Southern belle who has dreamed of this job ever since she decided that she would throw her own parties rather than not be invited to any; or a vote for the chef from New England whose passion for that cuisine oozes out of her skin and whose cooking chops promise to teach us a good deal about good cooking in general; or a vote for the charming Venezuelan whose family stories and clever cooking tips might help us all bring our families (natural or chosen!) around the table every night, it’s up to you.

Choose wisely, America! This is your fairy godmother moment. I can’t wait to see what you decide.

Vote online up to 10 times per day until 5pm on Tuesday!

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Comments (671)

  1. Angel says:

    I’m not on Facebook so on Monday I started to vote by phone. Halfway through I disconnected as I realized I wasn’t voting for someone I truly believed in, but voting for the lesser of the final four I found least offensive. There were three or four eliminated contestants that I would have liked to see in the mix for the finale but not meant to be. I will be watching on Sunday for the entertainment not the outcome.

  2. Luanda says:

    Go Justin go!!!! I love Alton Brown (my favorite FN chef) and I think Justin would be a perfect mini me. I liked Ippy too ... I would love learing about his POV :(

  3. Mona says:

    Why was Jeff even on the judging panel? All he contributed to the conversation was "well if Bobby say's she can grill then she must be good" REALLY??

    I can't believe that people think Michele is scary but Justin isn't?? My kids are 24, 22 and 20 they all cook (my 20 year old is in Culinary School) and they didn't find anything engaging about Justin, they actually find him to be freaky and laughable.

  4. @CJBC65 says:

    Just a note for those who are wondering why you need Facebook to vote - it is to prevent people from mechanical voting cheats. It is really unfair that a few have to ruin it for the whole, but that is life in the computer age. = (

    I have my votes in so now I want to just share a few thoughts on the season in the hopes that maybe one power that be sees this.

    First and foremost - please reconsider this new format! While on paper it may have looked good, it was a mess. It was horribly unfair to the contestants. Other seasons contestants have a few weeks before having to worry about being comfortable in front of the camera's being the reason they were sent home. In this case, I feel Cristy (sp) may have been unfairly sent home. Who doesn't have nerves the first week, toss in being forced to do a dish you are uncomfortable with, then having to perform in front of the camera's right away. She lost out to Josh who turned out to be a woefully dismal contestant while perhaps if given another week she might have bounced back and shined like a Food Network Star.
    And of course, as everyone has said, this voting out in order to keep the teams even was not only transparent, but a fiasco. How many contestants were saved because it simply wasn't that teams turn to lose someone (Martie, Nikki, Judsen) and how many people were cut because it was their teams turn (Eric, Emily)
    There were old favorite challenges that I just plain missed too! The Iron Chef challenge being the number one.
    I understand the need for a POV, when choosing a winner you need to know where/if their concept will fit in on the network. But PLEASE stop with the personal stories! I really didn't need to know that Yvan used to dig in dumpsters and personally, why the need to drag the poor guys skeletons out of the closet? Do we hear about that time Bobby put too much spice in his southwest chipolte (sp) BBQ sauce and spent all weekend running to the bathroom? Do we know that Giada once filled out an application at Burger King and Alton once dreamed of being a drum major but was turned down?

    These are things we neither know, nor care about. We care about their cooking chops, that they know recipes that kick butt and can hold out interest for 30 minutes.

    As for the contest - if you are going to make rules, then stick to them. You said only three could stay, cut Ippy and let Martie stay who should have been eliminated after the Chopped challenge. (and the week before) If I were Ippy and Nikky I would be pretty ticked off right now.

    I like all the finalists except Michelle, I just don't like her look and find her intimidating and cold, like Bobby said, she looks at the camera like it owes her money. I owe enough people money. Don't need that feeling when I watch FN too. But that is a personal thing. Martie, as I have said, I feel shouldn't even be there at this point. It feels wrong to me when real contestants like Eric and Ippy are gone. Justin and Yvan have the edge here imo.

    Anyway, just some food for thought. Take if for what it is worth - just another fan's opinion. = )

  5. ntd2020 says:

    Okay, CHEF IPPY SUPPORTERS, please read this and if you agree, reply with the word, Agree or click the THUMBS UP icon in the upper right corner. Let us send a CLEAR message to the FOOD NETWORK STAR powers-that-be (producers, editors, judges, mentor/coaches, etc) to right a HEWA (Hawaiian word for wrong, blunder, mistake, error, offense).

    We could be huhū (Hawaiian for angry, agitated, ticked off) that the judges kept incessantly harping on Ippy's being "laid back" as if it were a bad thing. Laid back means relaxed, easy-going, and casual. (Please Google "laid back" and that's the definition you get)

    Laid back is who Chef Ippy is AS A PERSON! It is who many people from Hawai'i (and those who embrace and adopt its culture) ARE as individuals and as a very large group. Being laid back contributes greatly to the harmony and interdependency of people living on small islands. Being so is most conducive to fostering the Aloha Spirit, that wonderful ineffable spirit of goodwill that still pervades our islands.

    Personally, I found the judges's negating Chef Ippy's personhood as unwitting, but still, deeply offensive and dismissive. In plain truth, IT WAS VERY HURTFUL, not only to him, but to countless many from Hawai'i or with ties to Hawai'i! I hope the powers-that-be will read the MANY blog comments (many hidden in replies) that have come from the hearts of those who are Hawaiian or Hawaiian-at-heart. I hope they and the judges will be big enough to review their hurtful actions, learn that they stepped on sensitive "cultural" toes, and come to realize how WRONG and belittling it was to target who Chef Ippy is as a person and try to mold him into someone he's not.

    If you look up the antonyms (opposites) of "laid back," you get edgy, tense, uptight. That is not Chef Ippy! Ai yai, yai, it certainly seemed that they wanted Chef Ippy to mirror more of what they see, day by day, in their own competitive, dog-eat-dog, in-your-face, frenetic and hardened world. If they had an inkling of the small, friendly, laidback town Chef Ippy is from, they would have known that they were asking for the impossible. He was steeped in the Aloha Spirit since birth!

    When I close my eyes and think Chef Ippy, I see his brilliant smile and consistently calm, unruffled, and relaxed manner. When I do the same and remember a number of the other faces on the show, quite honestly, I mostly see pinched faces with forced smiles and tension written all over them.

    How I wish they could have allowed some of Chef Ippy's relaxed, easy-going and casual beingness flow into them!

    Visitors to Hawai'i willingly spend thousands of dollars, a piece, to absorb some of this unique Hawaiian "laid backness" so they can be refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated. Too bad that those judges couldn't just chill and take him in to themselves as many of us viewers did. The eyes of their hearts would have been opened.

    CHEF IPPY DESERVES THE APOLOGIES OF THE FOOD NETWORK STAR'S POWERS-THAT-BE. And then, perhaps, they should apologize to the people of Hawai'i and those who embrace the Hawaiian culture and the Aloha Spirit.

    One day when at the end of their ropes, I truly wish that those who were hurtful (again, I would like to think unwittingly) will make the trek to the islands and experience for themselves the benefits of a laid-back culture and allow themselves to be inebriated by the Aloha Spirit, the same spirit and beingness that Chef Ippy brought with him to the show that was so summarily dismissed.

    In the spirit of Aloha, I forgive you judges and FNS powers-that-be for hurting us, who vicariously hurt for Chef Ippy. Every time you negated his identity, you were negating ours. Instead of being huhū, I wish you deep infusions of Aloha, complete with moments of feeling...laidback. Even if it's for a moment or two, it would be so good for our souls, yours, mine and ours.

    • Barbara says:

      Bravo ntd2020. Very well and eloquently said. I, too, wish the judges could have just accepted Ippy for who he is, just as they accepted other contestants for who they are. They kept wanting him to be something he is not. None of us can be "real" having to force ourselves into a mold set down by others. I wish Ippy only the best of eerything as he so deserves it. Being landlocked in the midwest and not of affluent means, I will probably never get to visit Hawaii, but thanks to Ippy I had a taste of what it is like just watching him for a few weeks. God bless you Ippy!!

      • ntd2020 says:

        Mahalo, Barbara, for your supportive words for Chef Ippy and your clear voice. I do hope the powers-that-be are paying close attention to your touching words. May they drop their defenses and accept our words as constructive feedback. I truly hope you will, one day, enjoy the lokomaika'i (lovingkindness) and beauty of Ippy's home, the Island of Hawai'i.

        "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
        ~ e. e. cummings

    • Ippy Fan says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. Let's show Chef Ippy our support for being true to himself.

    • @CJBC65 says:

      I would rather listen to Ippy's laid back relaxing cadence than Paula Deen's southern twang and over exaggerated Ya'll's any day and twice on Sundays!

      • Ippy Fan says:

        I would too, but in Paula's defense, she was impressed with Ippy when she was on the day he won the 20 g's.

        • @CJBC65 says:

          I wasn't commenting on Paula as a person - just her performance style. I know people from the deep south and none of them have accents that thick! It is all part of the persona. Nothing wrong with that, unless you find it grating which I do. But that doesn't mean I don't like her cooking or find her tips helpful. I just get them off the web site rather than watching her show. = )

    • Val says:

      Thank you ntd2020 for your beautiful thoughts. I agree with you and wish the judges had viewed Ippy with an open mind and no preconceived ideas. It was obvious Ippy maintained true professionalism and was wise enough to be true to himself. Congratulation Ippy for showing us your impressive talent with such grace throughout the past 10 weeks.

    • 808 Ippy Fan says:

      Beautifully said and I completely agree! Are you a local writer in Hawai'i? You should post this on Chef Ippy's Facebook wall, and there must be somewhere in the Star-Advertiser that you could share this with more people in Hawai'i.

      The Food Network missed out on a huge opportunity to showcase a talented chef who could share and educate people about not only the wonderful diverse cuisine we have in the islands (with his own special flair), but also the culture and Aloha Spirit you so eloquently described. And if the show were produced in Hawai'i, Ippy could share the beauty and diversity of the Big Island (and other islands), as well as the wonderful agricultural products available (so much more than pineapple and macadamia nuts).

      Mahalo for your wonderful message to the Food Network Star powers-that-be and for all the rest of us reading this blog.

      • ntd2020 says:

        ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ ~Edmund Burke

        Mahalo, 808 Ippy Fan, for your kind and insightful reply. I write, but I am not a local writer in Hawai'i. I am a kama'aina (Hawai'i born, literally translates to "child of the land) who is on an extended visit on the Mainland for 33 years. Since our entire families on both sides are in Hawai'i and we love our 'aina (land) and its people, our hearts remain in Hawai'i, whether we are physically there or not. We intend to return there when our working lives are pau (finished).

        I took you up on your suggestion and posted my thoughts on Hawai'i's major newspaper, the Star-Advertiser. We are paid online subscribers. My thoughts (above) are now on record on a public forum, accessible by the people of Hawai'i. Hopefully, this will contribute to the righting of a wrong by FOOD NETWORK STAR and will help to prevent future faux pas by them and others.

        What affects one of our own, affects all of us. This is true 'ohana thinking. We protect and defend our young people and WHO THEY ARE.

        So, MAHALO NUI for your suggestion to share it with the Star-Advertiser, the largest and most powerful of the media in Hawai'i. As I cited above, the English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ I would not go so far to say the FNS was doing evil, but what they did do was NOT GOOD. I give them the benefit of the doubt that it was unwitting -- unintentional, likely out of ignorance of our culture and mores. So I am doing something, otherwise I am contributing to the NOT GOOD.

        I am a child of the 1960s. Once an activist, always an activist. And ALWAYS for the good.


        • 808 Ippy Fan says:

          Mahalo, Aunty D! I found out who you are from FB (I couldn't find ntd2020 except on Twitter), and I'm really happy to hear you followed my suggestions for sharing your wonderfully written thoughts and insights concerning Chef Ippy and Hawaiian culture. I seriously thought you had to be a Bamboo Ridge writer. Hope to be reading more from you in the future.

          • ntd2020 says:

            A little over 20 years ago, the Hawaiian language (and culture) was almost driven to extinction with only 2000 remaining native speakers in the world. The dominant culture suppressed the language to expedite the conformity of the Native Hawaiians to their way of being. Perhaps it is not too much of stretch to compare what happened then to what the Food Network powers-that-be were doing to Chef Ippy, i.e., squelching who he was and making him fit a mold of who they thought he should be.

            I am familiar with the Bamboo Ridge writers who do great work. You wrote that you hoped to read more from me. Some of my online writing on the Hawaiian language and culture was resurrected by kind strangers who brought back these pages when Geocities died: http://www.oocities.org/~olelo/

            Thanks to the concerted efforts of many thoughtful and committed people, the Hawaiian language and culture now flourishes. We do NOT easily sit on our hands and do/say nothing when affronted by limited thought, disrespect and/or ignorance or when one of our own is being dissed.

            "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Meade

            Yes, I am passionate about our cherished culture that was almost killed off. I see strong parallels with the Chef Ippy being chopped by the judges and as I've cited above:

            ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ ~Edmund Burke

            Just as those who almost killed off our language and culture did not think of themselves as evil, what they did was not pono (Hawaiian for right and just). So, thanks to your suggestion to post on the Star-Advertiser, 808 Ippy Fan, more in Hawai'i can have access to our gentle protest, laced with Aloha.

    • guest says:

      Too long.

      • ntd2020 says:

        Excuse me, who appointed you as arbiter of comment lengths? Stick to Twitter. Mahalo.

        Cacoethes carpendi (a compulsive habit for finding fault) combined with ADD (attention deficit disorder)?

        Symptoms of ADD:
        - difficulty paying attention to details
        - inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
        - difficulty performing tasks that require concentration
        - frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
        - not listening to others, not keeping one's mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations

        • Ippy Fan says:

          I didn't think it was too long. I thought it was really well stated. Good luck to you and yours in all your endeavors. Chef Ippy brought so much interest to the program. I'm really going to miss watching him.

          Much love,

    • Van says:

      Mahalo (Thank you) for your thoughts & support of Ippy. I did not find his style a problem, but rather an asset. I loved his smile and laid back style, his dishes were interesting and refreshing, and loved his stories about his life in Hawaii...showcasing the beauty of Hawaii and the different & diverse cuisine would have made for an enjoyable show. It was also surprising as Ippy received some of the highest VOTES- consistently voted as one of the top 3. Ippy should be proud as he represented Hawaii well and maintained his integrity. I think (and hope) weʻll see more of Ippy in the future!

      • ntd2020 says:

        He mea iki. (Hawaiian for "You're welcome") I look forward to seeing that smile and laid back person tonight at the final show tonight (Sunday). He's a lanikila (WINNER) in our eyes. He represented the State of Hawai'i, his Island of Hawai'i, Waimea and all people of goodwill and Aloha superbly. Let us hope that the Food Network folks will see fit to make it up to Ippy!

        I admire greatly that he remained true to himself.

        "Don't listen to those who say, "It's not done that way." Maybe it's not, but maybe you will. Don't listen to those who say, "You're taking too big a chance." Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don't listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, "They're all smarter than you out there. They're more talented, they're taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…" I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you'll be a person worthy of your own respect."~Neil Simon

  6. Julie says:

    Sorry, wasn't able to vote. Don't have FB and we had a problem with our phones. Everything is working now.; but, if I could have voted, it would have been Justin, in a heart beat. There are so many shows and cookbooks out there with every recipe you could ever want. However, every time that Justin was on, I found myself riveted to my seat to see what he would do and if it would work. He would definitely bring something new to FN and I would set my clock to watch him. He is, as Guy Fieri would say, completely "off the hook" and that's a good thing. Good job, FN, this was the best NFNS ever.

  7. Natalie says:

    i was very sad and disappointed that they let Ippy go. I really dont get the whole his energy was low thing. Laid back is good and his smile was enough to keep you watching. Plus his POV was the most original with the exception of maybe Justins. However i didnt really like any of the things Justin made.. sometimes you just want good food not the craziest thing you can figure out to make. In the exit videos Nikki said she would be back and my God i hope she wont, but knowing the Food Networks decision to bring back other really unlikable contestants such as Penny, they probably will. Id rather see Ippy come back or get a show of his own. Look how Adam Gertler did he has done more then the actual winning contestant.

  8. nancy keenan says:

    do i vote for the food or the cook? i love justin

  9. beachinfrizzy says:

    Hey everyone. This is a bit off-topic but I thought fans of the show and food fans in general might want to know that it was just announced that Sylvia Woods, of the famous landmark "Sylvia's" soul food restaurant in Harlem, NY, died yesterday (July 19) at age 86. Michele was assigned (or volunteered, can't recall) to make a 'bite' inspired by Sylvia's menu way back in the second episode when the teams did the NY neighborhood bus tour challenge (she did a catfish 'slider' that unfortunately wasn't very well received). Sylvia's daughter was reported as saying that her mother had battled Alzheimers for the last few years; but she seemed 'right on' when Bobby's team visited - charming and sharp as ever. We've lost a true culinary icon; sincere condolences and best wishes to her family.

  10. Diamond Chef says:

    Ippy was better than the terrible cook Marti and the pig Michelle. Justin has some amazing ideas, although not all of them for sure. Who would watch Marti? She is barely an average cook.
    Nikki was a pretty cook chef, but is she really a grill next door? That is a good name for a restaurant but not a person.

    • guest says:

      You don't need to be rude and call someone a pig.

      • BeeGee says:

        I agree with you, Guest. Thank you for saying it.

        • Ippy Fan says:

          You can still praise Ippy without having to be rude or hurtful to other contestants. How would you feel if you put yourself out there, and people were posting rude comments about you. It would be hurtful, no?