All Posts By Aarti Sequeira

Aarti’s After Party: Episode 1 Recap

by in Food Network Star, May 14, 2012
Aarti Sequeira
An ecstatic Aarti hugs Bob Tuschman after learning that she won her season of Star.

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 hoping to tell you which of the contestants stood out to me in this episode, and I will, but with this caveat: I really shouldn’t.

The first episode is always the hardest to judge, not only because there are just so many gosh-darned finalists to acquaint yourself with, but also because the contestants themselves are still trying to get their sea legs.

At least, that’s how my first day went. It was surreal. First, meeting all the contestants, trying to figure out how I measured up alongside them and getting used to the idea that I’d be bunking with these complete strangers for the next several weeks.

Then, there was getting used to the crew: camera operators who followed me into the bathroom when I brushed my teeth; producers equipped with Secret Service-type walkie-talkies and earpieces who maintained an all business-attitude so that we didn’t get any inside information; having to ask said producers whether I could run to the restroom ; lining up in what seemed like a random order in the darkness behind set; whispering “good luck” to each other; waiting for what seemed like an eternity as my stomach dropped; and then suddenly being thrust into the too-bright lights with a battery of cameras in the corner aimed right at us, seemingly catching every tick, smile and frown.

All that before I even got to meet the Food Network personalities I’d spent years watching, learning from, analyzing. You’re star-struck. Your brain waves fizzle out as you take them in. Their faces look a little different, they look shorter, taller, smaller, bigger and — oh, wait — their lips are moving. Oh crap, what did they just say? I have to do what?! In how much time? For how many people? Wait...now?!

See what I mean? So go easy on the finalists, y’all. This is hard, and hard in a way that you can’t even begin to prepare yourself for. Read more

In Aarti’s Own Words: Macarena, Anyone?

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 16, 2010

Next Food Network Star Aarti Sequeira

Where am I? What time is it? Who am I?

All these thoughts are running through my mind this morning.
Oh yeah.

I'M THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR!

I've never been able to do a cartwheel or else I'd do one right now. Would you take a round of the Macarena instead?

No?

Oh, ok.

To think, on day one, that I served raw chicken. Raw. To Bobby Flay. I remember thinking, I'm going home. I can't believe I'm going home already. My friends and family will be so disappointed in me.

Oh, and that budget-friendly, tastebud-unfriendly egg curry I served at the swanky Sinatra estate. I'm sure Frank was rolling his twinkly blues that night.

And of course, that monkey that sat on my back from day one, whispering, "You're no good. And it's only a matter of time before they figure it out." I know that it was frustrating for you guys to watch me collapse time and time again. I know, because it was beyond frustrating for me! I don't know why, but I never saw myself the way the committee, the house, or you guys saw me, even though I'd won more challenges than anyone else at the house. It wasn't until Bob Tuschman called me a "former frontrunner" in episode 5 that I realized who I was, or had been.

That's why this victory is so powerful, so meaningful. I can shove this metaphorical crown in that evil monkey's face (I think of the monkey from Family Guy gritting his teeth and pointing!): "See? I AM good!" This is proof to myself that I do have a purpose, that my life does have meaning. When I doubt my creativity, I'll remember that Turk-Eye Meatloaf or the Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Kebabs that impressed the Obi-Wan of the cooking world, Chef Jonathan Waxman. When I doubt my energy or my strength, I'll remember sleeping four hours before prepping, cooking and serving on the cramped, smoky food truck for six hours ... or going straight from a long day at the supper club into a late-night evaluation. When I don't think my food is fancy enough or good enough for the most discerning taste buds, I'll remember how I killed it on the Iron Chef Challenge, how my culinary superhero, Chef Morimoto, loved my food. I mean, I did an Iron Chef battle, people. Not only did one. Won it (not against an Iron Chef, but... well, not YET!). How many people can say that?!

And so, to that monkey I say, "Adieu and thank you. I'm sure you had a purpose in my life, but I'm done with you now, and I never want to see you again." For any of you struggling with the same monkey, know that you don't have to carry him around forever. To my fellow contestants, especially my brothers from another mother, Tom and Herb: Thank you so much. To stand up there with you two was an honor and a blessing. I learned something from all of you, whether it was how to be strong in the face of adversity (Brianna), or how to coat your chicken wings in mustard to make them extra crispy (DAS!). Thank you to the selection committee for your patience with me, for all the therapy during evaluation (!), and for giving me another chance to lift my head up with pride. To all the producers, crew, culinary crew: we all saw how hard you guys worked even when you were more tired than we were. Thank you. And to you, out there in TV-terra: Your constant messages of support and encouragement were like a chorus of angels willing us forward. Thank you. And I hope you stay for the next chapter in this crazy story! And finally, I hope you'll allow me one final shout-out to God: Father, You know I'm nothing without You. Thank you so much! AMEN! Selah!

WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!

I Just Have To Be Myself

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 9, 2010

Aarti Sequeira

There aren't enough exclamations to convey my excitement:
Leaping Lizards!
Jumpin' Jehosaphat (sp?)!
Holy Carp!

Nope. None of them work.

Here it is, our chance to actually DO the thing we've been fighting tooth 'n' nail for! And while I'm nervous (who wouldn't be), most of me is actually calm. It was always the cooking at the drop of a hat that spooked me. Being in front of the camera is fun! When I look in that camera, I'm going to imagine my husband Brendan, my family and my friends on the other side. I wonder whether anyone is going to help us through this thing? Cooking and talking to camera is much harder than it looks. I'm going to stick to my original mantra: be bold, and be joyful. After all, this may be one of the toughest challenges yet – putting everything we've learned so far together in one short pilot – but people watch Food Network to escape the difficulties, the pain, the doldrums of real life. We've got to bring the warmth, the joy, the fun... and wrap it around a tasty morsel and some kitchen know-how.

What could be easier, right? Hmmm.

I'm so happy to be up here with Tom and Herb. They've become brother-like to me. They even tucked me into my bed last night (an empty room now that Aria has left), and simultaneously kissed me on either cheek.

"My two dads!" I said, and they laughed.

Next Food Network Star Finalist Herb Mesa Next Food Network Star Finalist Tom Pizzica Don't get me wrong. They're fierce competition. Each of them can cook their pants off, and their brand of personality is so unique to who they are. I can't replicate it. Herb energizes you, and makes you feel optimistic about reaching your health goals. Tom makes you laugh and makes you feel like extraordinary food is within your grasp. It's sort of comforting to me - I can't be them. So I just have to be myself, do what I do, and see what happens.

We're all going to have a new career at the end of this, whether we win or not. But let's be honest. None of us want to lose. We might love each other to bits, but our competitive streak is still alive and kicking. Winning this thing would be a massive, humongous, gargantuan blessing to any one of our lives. Winning would make the last 9 weeks of sacrifice, challenges and no sleep all worthwhile.

Still, should either of my brothers win, I know I'll be almost as happy as if I had. I will wrap my arms around them, squeeze them half to death, and cry with joy. Because once you win this thing, it is no understatement to say that your life will never be the same again.