First, the bad news. ‘Aarti Party’ has been cancelled. Technically, Food Network says, the show is on “hiatus” and can still be caught in reruns. But Aarti Sequeira — the Los Angeles food blogger who landed the show after winning Season 6 of ‘The Next Food Network Star’ — doesn’t sugar-coat.
“It’s cancelled,” she says simply, displaying the lack of guile that made her one of the most beloved contestants in the history of the network’s popular reality competition, and also sealed her victory. That warm, open personality also made her a natural on camera, but the weekend-morning show dedicated to cooking with Indian flair nonetheless failed to gain traction with viewers.
“I was heartbroken when I found out,” Sequeira said.
The news came on the eve of a long-planned trip to Portland, Oregon. So Sequeira did what any true foodie would do. She went to Portland and dived into the local food scene, all while holding fast to a personal belief: Life’s setbacks are simply opportunity in disguise. She said she kept reminding herself, “There’s always a better plan in store.”
Which brings us to the good news for Sequeira’s fans: She launched a new show on Friday night — ‘Taste in Translation’ — on Food Network’s sister channel, Cooking Channel. And it just might be better suited to Sequeira (a former TV news producer for CNN) and audiences who seemingly cannot get enough of food-meets-travel.
The show is a global guide to taste, comparing and contrasting the most popular dishes on the planet, but ultimately underscoring just how much we’re all alike. The first episode explored comfort foods around the globe in all their starchy, homey goodness. Feeling blue in Sweden? You’re likely to pull up a chair to a potato gratin laced with ... a kind of sardine.
‘Taste in Translation’ sees Sequeira both in and out of the kitchen, as well as doing casual “man-on-the-street” banter. The show also takes viewers into US restaurants serving on-point cuisines.
The first episode featured the Culver City British gastropub Waterloo & City and its sticky toffee pudding — the ultimate in British comfort food — and a Queens, New York, restaurant for the ultimate in American comfort food: breakfast mac-and-cheese with bacon and a sunny side up egg.
In a later episode, Sequeira explores how birthdays are celebrated around the globe. (Believe it or not, not everyone does the whole birthday cake-and-candles thing.) Sequeira said she feels the timing is right for the show, especially coming on the heels of the divisive election.
“I love the idea of a show that pulls us together rather than tears us apart, and shows us how similar we all are,” she said. “This breaks all that down, and gets you to this very simple place: This tastes good.”
She has also joined the Cooking Channel show ‘Drop 5 Lbs,’ about finding easy and delicious ways to whittle your waist. But do not worry, Sequeira fans. She says her new role as the show’s food correspondent does not mean she will lose the curvy frame she’s known for.
“I am a little bit lighter than I was before joining the show,” she said. “But my mantra is, ‘I don’t want to get skinnier, I want to get stronger.’ I enjoy eating way too much.”