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'The Next Food Network Star': Let's Paarti!

Aarti Sequeira Sister, that was close.

Overcoming self-doubts that continued to nag her until the very end, Los Angeles food blogger Aarti Sequeira was crowned the Season 6 winner of "The Next Food Network Star." More remarkable, she beat out Herb Mesa and Tom Pizzica, competitors who stumbled badly at the start but ultimately delivered cooking concepts that were hits with test groups.

Mesa finally nailed down a clever POV. -- "Cooking con Sabor" -- that underscored his Latin roots and allowed him to slim down his culture's fattening dishes in flavorful fashion. Although he found himself on the chopping block several times this season, he ultimately made peace with a sometimes unhappy childhood as an obese kid. Tom, meanwhile, was almost booted early on for a lazy demeanor that had the judges wondering whether he even wanted to be part of the competition. He turned that into the "Big Chef," bringing big, bold flavors into the kitchen.

Frankly, the judges could have picked any of the three.

But Herb and Tom just couldn't outshine Aarti's sparkle. From the beginning, she had a relaxed, humorous style, and it certainly doesn't hurt that she still manages to be sexy in a way that won't turn off viewers. (Brianna, take note.)




She stood out from Day One for good reason. Her blog, her food videos and her background as a journalist made her a natural in front of the Food Network camera. Her biggest problems came from within: she was rattled by self doubt. She kept wondering whether she was good enough, smart enough, talented enough, blah blah blah. It got so bad that the judges wondered whether she would be too needy if chosen. That was Aarti's wake-up  call.

Still, at the end, while the three finalists were watching their demos, Aarti seemed a bit anxious and fretful, while Tom and Herb were plenty happy to high-five and preen about how well they did. (And deservedly so.)

So Aarti, let's put those nerves to rest once and for all: You're a star. Own it!

What do you think about the judge's choice? Will you watch Aarti? Her new show starts in just one week.

And memo to Food Network: Can't you find a way to also make room for Tom and Herb, someplace? C'mon, you've got two channels!

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo credit: Food Network

Comments () | Archives (38)

Will not watch! Can't stand the cloying sweetness.

Hip Hip Hooray for Aarti! She is fabulous, and I can't WAIT to see her do a show of her own. Great Choice Judges!!!!

LOVED Aarti from day one . . . can't wait to start trying some of her recipes!

Congrats Artie!!!
I can't wait to see your show!!! I've watched all the food network star shows and you have the most interesting point of view I've seen as well as being adorable.
You rock,

I think Tom should have won. He has great flavor POV, made some awesome dishes the last half of the competition, and really started to shine and grow more confident in front of the camera unlike Aarti. He really put himself on the map after the Longoria episode and defintely during the Iron Chef episode.

Will I watch her show? Only if I happen to catch it.

I will, without a doubt, be watching Aarti's show! I've been gunning for her since day one and am ecstatic that she took the gold on this season of The Next Food Network Star. While I would have been content if Herb or Tom won (let's be honest, their shows were right up my ally as well), Aarti had my loyalty from day one. The more I watch Food Network (which is a lot), the more I become a foodie and the more adventure I put into my food. I'm a huge fan of cooking healthy, I sure hope we see more of Herb. I also love big, bold flavor in my cooking and hope to see Tom again as well. Aarti's food and direction really call to me. I'm not too well versed in Indian food, but am excited to try infusing my normal, every day food with exotic flavors. I'm always up for the adventure of cooking, and Aarti (to me) seems like an amazing guide! CONGRATS AARTI!!!

well one more show on food net work i wont watch.theirs to many like her on there now i would not eat the food. not very health.

I have to agree with you. I hope the Food Network can find a place for both Herb and Tom on one of their networks. The finale was a nail biter! I could see any one of those three having a successful cooking show and really felt the decision must have been quite difficult for the judges. I have to say, from day one, Aarti was always my favorite on the show. I was confident she would win and I was most interested in her story and her style of cooking. By the same token, I had a little doubt on tonight's show because I really saw a star in Herb Mesa and would love to watch a show on cooking light (hello Food Network, how have you not brought on a cooking light show yet?!). I really feel that cooking healthy is where the void is on the Food Network. (Ellie Krieger has never done it for me.) Anyway, I'm so happy Aarti won and felt sorry for Herb because he wanted it so bad, but I hope they'll find a niche for him on the network like they've done for other runners-up in the past.

dont like her and wont watch ner . their is to many like her on the food net now. would like some health food on their. i have cut back on who i watch on their i wish i got the new food channel i would watgh

Aarti was fabulous from day one! It was clear she would be the winner from the first moment she graced our screens. Sure, she might've had some self-doubt at some point, but certainly all of the other contestants did at one point or another as well. It's just that, per the usual "reality" show conventions, the producers decided they would saddle the "lack of self-confidence" archetype to, not surprisingly, a female who just happened to be Aarti.

I'm so glad Aarti won! And I agree The Food Network could definitely find a place for Tom and Herb. But I'm still glad that Aarti won.

Her food was always the best, so no doubt she would have been selected. I hope she brings some spices to our American raw food.

I will definitely watch Aarti's new show! I really want the recipe for her Indian pizza. It looked delicious!

I am SO happy she won! This is the first food network star who's show I will actually watch! :)

Aarti is a real treat and am glad that she won. Wish her the best and can't wait to watch her show

I love Aarti! Congrats Dahling! I can't wait for her wonderful recipes and that wonderful personally shining through to my house. I'm looking forward to the Paarti!!!

Congratulations to Aarti! She will be a great asset to your food network!

I've never seen a more staged outcome to a reality show. I realize these are written and planned, but the lack of subtlety here was appalling and even a little insulting. The producers were clumsy at best in disguising a pre-determined outcome they were set on weeks ago. Even though there were challenges where she lost or performed less than stellar, the "judges" clearly had already made up their minds, and on that they never wavered, apologizing of her mistakes while taking other contestants to task for the same thing. That's weeks of my life I'll never get back, but I certainly won't make the same mistake next time should they be looking to pre-cast another "food network star."

We have not seen the last of Herb or Tom, mark my words. But Aarti could very well be the next Paula Deen. She has star quality, plain and simple.

Herb will probably get a show that will highlight his energy in the same way finalist Adam Gertler did. And Tom? Well, I felt bad for him because we already had Big Daddy so his concept didn't stand much of a chance but Tuschman ADORES him so he will find a home (and a show) somewhere. All 3 will be highly visible.

Congratulations to all of them!

great pick......Aarti shines.....tom and herb were pretty good, but really didn't even come close!

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