September 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm , by Megan Weiss
After an intense few months of competition, Aarti Sequeria has finally landed her dream job (and mine). She is now the host of her very own show on The Food Network called Aarti Party. I had the privilege of speaking with Aarti about her whirlwind experience as a competitor, and winner of Next Food Network Star.
What was the first thought that crossed your mind when they announced your name as winner of Next Food Network Star?
I thought “Oh Lord!” I felt gratitude and relief as well as some sadness for my fellow competitors, Tom and Herb, whom I had grown close with over my time on the show.
What is an easy way for people to introduce Indian cuisine into their lives who may be a bit skeptical?
I was intimidated at first as well and I am Indian! I didn’t start off cooking it and the first few times I tried it didn’t come out so well. I try to help people take a step toward bringing authentic flavors into their everyday dishes. For example, the Sloppy Joe recipe is something that is familiar to people and just by adding a few spices you can incorporate Indian flavors into a common dish. I usually get inspiration from what I am craving that day. If I am in the mood for a flank steak I think, “what can I do differently” to inspire something new.
What made you decide to enter The Next Food Network Star competition?
When I applied I had been doing my online show (Aarti Paarti) for 9 months and had picked up a few other jobs online. I realized this was what I wanted to do. All my strengths were built for this type of work. However, I was very intimidated by past episodes and how hard the challenges were, and these people had even more experience than I did!
What was the most difficult challenge on the show?
The Beso challenge with Eva Longoria and Todd English. I was at my wits end and so tired; I didn’t have strength left. I had seen my husband earlier that day and my emotions were all over the place. If I am in a good mood and I cook you can taste it, and unfortunately if I am in a bad mood you can taste it as well. I wasn’t cooking with joy that day.
More questions on the next page
In an industry that can sometimes be intimidating for women, who are some ladies you admire? Growing up overseas we did not have food shows to watch, so my mom was a great influence on me. Julia child as well, I love her personality. She lets all her mistakes show. Cooking isn’t perfect and beautiful all the time and even after being trained in France she is not afraid to let her mistakes show.
You seem to have a natural ability in front of the camera; do you feel that your online show Aarti Paarti played a role in that?
Yes absolutely! I trained to be a journalist so you are forced to get used to it. My husband filmed my online show so knowing he was there and knowing he would be completely honest was great and allowed me to loosen up.
What does is feel like to now be recognized by fans while you are out in public?
At first no one recognized me. The day after the first show aired we went out to breakfast and I made sure I wore a nice top and makeup and nobody recognized me. Why was I so vein! [Laughs] Eventually people recognized me everywhere whether I had my sunglasses on or my hair up; I love it! Aside from getting to know your culinary style, they really get to know who you are as a person through the show.
What was it like to see yourself on national television for the first time?
It’s hard! Seeing yourself on TV you can’t help but realize how superficial you really are! All I kept thinking was “Why did I wear that? Why was my hair like that!” It was cool after a few weeks, however, to see myself and relive the hardest thing I ever did. It was interesting to see how everyone else saw me as well. I realized how transparent I really am! When I am scared or nervous it completely reads on my face even when I thought I was disguising it so well.
To see Aarti’s new show Aarti Party tune in Sundays at 12pm/11c on The Food Network.
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