Video Interview: 'Next Food Network Star' Aarti Sequeira Talks New Show, Cooking for Tom Waits
By Zach Dionne Posted Aug 21st 2010 03:30PM
When 'The Next Food Network Star' wrapped last Sunday, Indian-born food blogger Aarti Sequeira was overjoyed to see her portrait pop up beside the channel's veteran celebrity chefs. Now she's set to debut the first season of 'Aarti Party' this weekend. Already! Just a week after we found out she'd even have a show! And what a perfect title! Sorry ... it's tough to wrangle the enthusiasm when we're talking about such a vivacious, well-spoken chef who also happens to have bragging rights as the Food Network's first Indian cuisine specialist.
After the jump, enjoy our video interview with Aarti Sequeira, who tells us who makes her the most starstruck, what she'll be cooking up on 'Aarti Party' (with a recipe for you to try) and the one celebrity she'd love to cook for!
See the season premiere of 'Aarti Party' on the Food Network Sunday, August 22 at 12PM EST.
Aarti on her first week since becoming 'The Next Food Network Star': "It's been chaos. I watched it with some of my closest friends and still don't know what happened in the last two minutes of the show because they were screaming so loud. Then I came to New York and it's been very controlled chaos ever since. I couldn't believe I won."
Who gets her the more starstruck -- Hollywood types or celebrity chefs? "I'm definitely more starstruck by the chefs. These are people I've been watching for years, who taught me to cook. I watched a lot of Rachael Ray because I thought, 'I don't really know how to cook.' To see them in the flesh and to cook for them and perform for them was ... [laughs] kind of a lot of pressure. But it was amazing!"
Her food idol: "I could watch Jamie Oliver all day, a) because he's incredibly cute, b) because he's very smart, and c) because he's just exactly the way he is on camera. You feel like you're actually right there with him; there's no pretense, there's no wall. That's something I aspire to when I do my cooking show."
What's up with 'Aarti Party'? "It's just going to be an extension of the way I cook -- a lot of classics like sloppy joes and roast chicken, but I'm wrapping those in Indian flavors. For my sloppy joe, I'm using a chicken tikka masala sauce. It's a lot of really exciting food."
Which celebrity would she cook for? "I'd really love to cook for Tom Waits. I love Tom Waits; he's a really quirky guy. I think he's one of the coolest people on the planet. I make this flank steak that I rub with coffee and brown sugar and a bunch of different spices, with this onion, date and balsamic vinegar compote to go alongside it, and I roast up some parsnips. It's sort of like meat and potatoes, but it's something different."
Try this exclusive recipe from Aarti, soon to be featured on 'Aarti Party':
(Crispy Roasted Chicken Breasts with Orange and Cardamom)
1 pound small red new potatoes1) Turn oven to 500 degrees F. Grab two sheet trays and line one with a cooling rack and the other with parchment. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with a little olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper. Place on sheet tray lined with parchment.
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
4 airline chicken breasts, on the bone, skin intact
¼ cup butter, softened but not melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
zest of 1 large orange
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2) In a small bowl, combine butter, ground cardamom, orange zest, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir together with a spoon until well mixed.
3) Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Poke a small opening in that clear membrane between the skin and the flesh of the chicken breast. Glide your index finger through the opening, loosening the skin from the flesh, without removing it completely. You're creating a big pocket in which the butter will sit! Repeat with the other chicken breasts.
4) Place a spoonful of the butter mixture through the opening you made in the skin of the chicken breast. Once it's in there, smooth out the butter by gliding your finger over the skin, until it's evenly distributed. Repeat with the other breasts. Place chicken breasts on sheet tray lined with cooling rack. Wash your hands thoroughly.
5) If you wish, drizzle skin with a little oil, for extra crispy skin. Season with salt. Throw the whole shebang into the oven, and roast for about 30 minutes, turning pans once halfway through the cooking time and stirring the potatoes. Relax, sip a glass of wine and bask in the crackling sounds of butter and comforting smell of roasted chicken!
6) Chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, but not touching the bone, should register about 160°F when it's cooked. Pull them out at this point, tent with foil and allow to rest about 5 minutes.
7) Serve with potatoes.
Yield: 4 servings
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