When chef Aarti Sequeira won Season Six of Food Network Star, the number-one series on The Food Network, she received her own show on the network, which she called Aarti Party. The name comes from her own online combination cooking and variety show she started in 2008 and hosted before her Food Network Star appearance and win called Aarti Paarti. Like her Food Network show, this YouTube series showcased her education and experience as a journalist and her lifelong passion for food. It guided viewers to recreate her own original recipes, like kale frittatas, her personal take on baba ganoush and her mother’s “famous” lentils. In likewise fashion, her Food Network program is known for showing her as she introduces surprising new cooking techniques and food flavors to viewers. She takes her Indian cuisine expertise and uses it to give classic American dishes a more accessible spin. The show has the self-ascribed aim of expanding viewers’ palates and food repertoire.
Aarti Sequeira was born in Bombay, India, then raised in Dubai, UAE, where she gained firsthand experience of the first Gulf War. This is what she says inspired her to initially pursue journalism before going into cooking.
Growing up in a traditionally Indian Catholic household, she says today that her faith, her mother and her cultural background inspired her food appreciation at an early age. For instance, every Friday, her family would eat fish for dinner, and, every Sunday, they would go to church. On the Food Network biography of Aarti Sequeira, it says among the memories she treasures most are those of her father going to market weekly to pick up fresh produce and fish, of her mother inventing new recipes and of herself pretending, clearly presciently, to be the host of her own cooking show. Foods she fondly recalls eating frequently with her family as she grew up include shawarmas, flatbreads and curries.
During Aarti Sequeira’s youth going through the British schooling system of Dubai, she was involved in several musical activities, such as choir and playing piano. In 1996, she moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism for a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism, which she then earned in 2000. She also had an adjunct International Relations major. During her college years, she acquired useful media experience as head of the university’s student-run TV and radio stations. She also spent a short time covering Capitol Hill live in Washington, D.C. for a local TV station in Fargo, North Dakota. After graduating Northwestern, Aarti Sequeira took a job as a production assistant in CNN’s Chicago location. She kept that job for approximately one year before heading to N.Y.C. in 2001 to be a CNN producer, a job she held for the next two years. Among the news stories she covered were the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After marrying her college love Brendan in 2003, she moved with him from N.Y. to L.A.
There, she worked a number of freelance jobs in the city’s entertainment industry, including producing a documentary that aired on HBO called “Sand and Sorrow” about the Darfur crisis of 2004. It later earned its director a Peabody award.
Shortly thereafter, after finding herself dissatisfied with her career, she eagerly sought something different. Initially, she tried her hand at acting before ultimately deciding to pursue cooking professionally. She entered The New School of Cooking, located in Culver City, California, and, in 2007, earned her professional cooking certificate. Ultimately, she started her YouTube show with the aid of her actor husband. It was Brendan, in fact, who encouraged her to audition for Food Network Star.
Since her win on Food Network Star, Aarti Sequeira went on to win Guy’s Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen All-Stars and Chopped All-Stars. She also started hosting a second food-related travel show Hidden Eats and wrote a cookbook called “Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul.” She’s also made frequent appearances on other Cooking Channel and Food Network shows and has judged several cooking competitions.
Lesser-known fun facts about Aarti Sequeira include that she loves Middle Eastern dance, improvisational theater and going to art galleries. She also works with a faith-based charitable organization that helps reduce child poverty called Compassion International.
Today, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her parents live in Bangladesh as does her youngest sister; her middle sister resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Aarti Sequeira started her career as a food-related broadcaster in 2008 with the launch of her online cooking show Aarti Paarti. She began this after earning her professional cooking certificate from The New School of Cooking just the year before.
In 2003, Aarti Sequeira married Brendan McNamara, her university sweetheart. The couple have two daughters, Eliyah and Moses. She writes and speaks openly and frequently about her love for her husband and their daughters.
Aarti Sequeira first appeared on the Food Network as a contestant in season six of Food Network Star in August 2010.
Aarti Sequeira’s net worth is approximately $1 million USD.