Tag: Aarti Sequeira

Aarti’s Finale After Party: Winner-to-Winner Advice

by in Food Network Star, July 26, 2012

Justin Warner's Winning MomentAarti 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 shared her insider’s take on what went down each week during season 8.

I’d like to talk to the three people who didn’t win this past Sunday. Michele, Yvan and Martie: You guys battled your hearts out and I know this must be a hard time for you. It might get even harder; after something as momentous as this competition, there’s an inevitable adrenaline crash. It might even creep up on you long after all the Star talk dies down. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself struggling with a serious case of the mopes for a little bit. Months of emotions, self-reflection and physical/psychological exertion take their toll.

And know that this isn’t the end of the road by any means. Just look at the careers of Kelsey Nixon, Jeffrey Saad and Tom Pizzica, to name a few. This is the springboard, the beginning of something. One of my idols, Christiane Amanpour, talks about how strongly she believes in the power of mistakes, the power of “failure” to propel you, to teach you, to refine you. She said that our generation is afraid of making mistakes, and perhaps it’s because we are so obsessed with perfection. But no one learns from perfection, certainly not me. So take a break, be kind to yourself, and then go grab your horse, saddle her up and get back on. Your journey isn’t over yet, loves.

To Justin, CONGRATULATIONS! And welcome to the family! The network of Food Network Star winners is small but tight, so I think I can safely speak for all of us in saying that we’ve got your back should you need anything. You better get used to us hugging you like we’ve known you forever.

Actually, that brings me to the first of three (unsolicited) pieces of advice:

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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. Read more

Aarti’s After Party: Take It From Paula

by in Food Network Star, July 1, 2012

Paula and Bobby Deen
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, for one, adore Paula Deen. I remember when she appeared on my season of Food Network Star — the first things I saw were her crystal blue eyes and that trademark silver shock of hair. I lost it.

Much like Martie did this episode.

“Paula DEEEEEEEEEN!” I yelled and collapsed in a fit of excited giggles.

And I see her have the same effect on the contestants every season. She manages to dismantle even Alton’s poker face with her signature warmth, drawl and feistiness. So what is it about Paula that future Food Network stars can learn from?

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Aarti’s After Party: Star As Therapy

by in Food Network Star, June 24, 2012

Emily Ellyn

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.

Someone give me my clairvoyance badge! (Isn’t that something you earn in the Girl Scouts?) Last week I asked why Emily was so fascinated by the '50s, and why Justin felt the need to pursue this "rebel without a culinary cause" POV because, in my estimation, what you cook isn’t the whole story — it’s why you cook that turns an everyday burger into something special.

And guess what? That was exactly what this week was about.

I’ll be honest. I’m still a bit surprised that Emily was sent home. She was an early favorite of mine, although always with a bit of reservation. I wanted to see beyond the awesome wardrobe and masterful cooking technique to the beating heart beneath the halter-neck apron. I had really hoped we’d get there this week.

During my season of Star, we often likened this competition to therapy. The last thing you’d expect in a TV competition about cooking is to have to deal with your demons. But you do, because being under this kind of scrutiny, under this kind of pressure, draws all of those suckers to the surface. And, rather than enduring hours of self-analysis on a couch in a therapist’s office, you’re doing it in your heels, under interrogator’s lights and before a national TV audience. It’s scary, no doubt. But one of the things I learned through Star is that if something scares you, you can’t back off — you’ve got to run full-speed at it, roaring with all your might.

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Aarti’s After Party: Redemption and Defeat

by in Food Network Star, June 17, 2012

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.

Well, didn’t Martie redeem herself this week?

I was kind of amazed at how many of you wrote, with some vitriol, that sweet Martie didn’t deserve to stay last week. Well, she certainly proved herself this week, cooking a rather elaborate multi-step dish (Southern-style arancini, which I would never have attempted to make for 150 people) and bowling the judges over with her warmth and humor.

Just one thing though, Martie, my love: That moniker you’re using? Martie Party? It’s kinda taken. Ahem! Read more

Aarti’s After Party: Getting to Know You

by in Food Network Star, June 10, 2012

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.

We’re five weeks in, and there are only 10 contestants left. With this large a group, it’s hard to get to know anyone on a deeper level, and that seems to have been the theme of this week’s episode. Cue the show tunes! "Getting to know you, getting to know all about yooooooooou … "!

When asked, "who are you?" it seemed that most everyone’s inclination was to talk about his or her family. Whether it was Michele’s mom’s meatball recipe or Judson talking about his family’s struggle with weight, there’s something about talking about your family that instantly connects you with people, perhaps because, for the most part, everyone has one.

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Aarti’s After Party: Fashionable Food

by in Food Network Star, June 3, 2012


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 have two words about this week’s challenge: Food. Fascinator.

I nearly gave Emily a standing ovation this week for her delightful spin on the old standby of ham steak with pineapple and maraschino cherries. This challenge was sort of tailor-made for her, since her POV is all about putting a fresh coat of paint on retro dishes. And so I expected her to nail the dish, although I must say that pickling the cherries was an inspired idea — maraschino cherries are not an easy ingredient to work with (as I learned on Chopped All-Stars earlier this year!) because their sticky, saccharine flavor usually overwhelms the entire dish. You have to stand up to them, and that she did, dousing them in spicy vinegar to show ‘em who’s boss. “When life gives you cherries, pickle ‘em.” Yes indeed, Emily. Read more

Aarti’s After Party: Go Bold or Go Home

by in Food Network Star, May 27, 2012

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.

When I asked you guys what you thought of this new format a couple of weeks ago, some of you opined that it allowed the “weaker” contestants to hide behind the “stronger” ones. Well, this was the week for you.

For the first time, instead of competing as teams, it was every man for him (or her) self. And judging by the contestants’ performance this week, this paradigm shift did a number on them. Until now, these folks were teammates, brothers-in-arms if you will, cheering each other across the finish line, consoling one another when a fellow soldier didn’t think he or she could make it. In a blink of any eye, the brothers-in-arms were forced to opposite sides of the battlefield.

No wonder so many faltered. I was shocked at the ripple of insecurity toppling many of the Goliaths in this pack: Martita’s characteristic fieriness diminished to a very polite flicker. Emily’s Zooey Deschanel-like quirkiness lacked pop. And Martie? Oh how my heart broke for her, as we watched her insecurities threaten to drown her Southern charm.

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Aarti’s After Party: 3 Secrets to Good Presenting

by in Food Network Star, May 20, 2012

Bobby and Kara

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.

Oh man, how I loved this challenge! Wasn’t it good? I think this might have been my favorite challenge in Food Network Star history.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a journalist by training — I worked at CNN, and I produced a documentary about the genocide in Darfur that aired on HBO. So the prospect of being thrown into an unfamiliar field to harvest stories and secrets from the locals, and then recount them to an audience? Hooray and huzzah! And while at first blush this week’s challenge seemed to favor one team in particular (I’m looking at you, Team Giada), this is something that every Food Network hopeful needs to master.

Food television is changing — not only must you be able to cook, be able to talk about what you’re cooking and relate to your viewers, but you must also be able to take viewers on a journey, pull them along with you as you experience food cooked by other hands, and make people feel like they’re sitting at the table with you. Look at the success of shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, United Tastes of America and Heat Seekers, and you’ll see what I mean.

So, future Food Network Stars, here are a few of tips on presenting like the star that you are.

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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