An Interview with Aarti Sequeira, Winner of Next Food Network Star Season 6!

Image from HuffPost TV

As a Food Network Magazine Intern this summer, I thought I’d start reaching out to as many stars as I could contact this summer to see if they wouldn’t mind answering a few random questions for my inquiring mind. Aarti was one of my mom and I’s faves on the sixth season of Next Food Network Star (she even won it all!) – and I was so thrilled to see her respond to my email inquiry so quickly!

Enjoy a quick moment with Aarti – and understand why I’m so inspired by her drive, passion and faith.

Q: What’s life been like for you since Next Food Network Star? What are you up to now?

A: It’s had ups and downs, just like anything. Coming off the high of winning was a little tricky, and something I think I’m only now experiencing! But the joy of coming up with recipes, and learning, learning, learning about food has been exhilarating. When I applied for Food Network Star, my husband and I were subsisting on our savings and his unemployment check. Now, every time we send the rent check in, I whisper a little thank you to my God. I will never ever take that for granted.

Q: If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who’s brand new to the kitchen, what would it be?

A: Don’t be a perfectionist. Like me. Being a perfectionist, and judging your food to be “less-than” perfect because it doesn’t resemble the photo in the blog you printed it off … doesn’t mean much. Does it taste good? Yes? Good. If it doesn’t – Why not? What could be the issue? Cooking is a long drawn-out process, one of the few left in this fast-paced world of ours. Enjoy the study.

Q: What or who inspires you?

A: I’m always inspired by people who have their own quirky view of life, and don’t let other people beat it out of them. Clinging to who you are, no matter what people say about it. That inspires me.

Q: What makes your story/journey to Food Network unique?

A: Being a cooking show host was always a pipe dream for me, something I had really only imagined when I was a child playing with my cooking set, and narrating my recipe to the imaginary camera. That it has come true, in such a circuitous fashion (working at CNN, producing a documentary about Darfur, hosting my own cooking-variety show on YouTube), is so bizarre that it can only be true.

Q: What’s your favorite dish to make – and what’s the story behind it?

A: It’s always different. At the moment, anything South Indian – with that nutty, savory combination of coconut, black mustard seeds and curry leaves. As soon as the curry leaves hit that hot oil, I’m no longer in LA. I’m back in Mangalore, with the crows caw’ing and the vegetable man walking from door to door singing about his wares. Magic.


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