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

August 15, 2010 |  8:41 pm

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