Cooking isn’t just about making food, says Aarti Sequeira. It’s your invitation to the table.
The Los Angeles–based Sequeira is a warm, welcoming presence, and she embraces the camaraderie a plate of food provides. Cooking is an opportunity to connect, a time to break nan and nurture the people you love.
Sequeira’s path to the kitchen was a winding one.
Her career began at CNN when she was fresh out of journalism school. But the more she strove to be like her hero, Christiane Amanpour, the more Sequeira sought refuge over the stove. After she launched her own cooking show on YouTube, the home cook’s passion for food grew and her star rocketed.
In 2010, Sequeira officially traded her reporter’s notebook for a set of knives. She was the winner of the sixth season of Food Network’s reality show The Next Food Network Star and began hosting her own show, Aarti Party, focusing on easy ways to enhance traditionally American dishes with Indian flavors.
For her, the career change from journalist to cook has just meant a different way to help people make connections.
“[Making food] is more intimate than talking to someone, even one on one, because it’s a visceral connection — one made without words,” she says.
Sequeira has moved on to appear on a number of other cooking shows, including Chopped All-Stars and Cutthroat Kitchen, as well as Taste in Translation, which she hosted. She’s also the author of the cookbook Aarti Party: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul.
Palm Springs Life spoke with Sequeira prior to her visit to Palm Desert Food & Wine.
PSL: Let’s say a home cook wants to try some Indian dishes but is unfamiliar with the cuisine. What advice do you have for someone cooking Indian recipes for the first time?
Aarti Sequeira: It’s the same as [with] any other recipe — read it all the way through before you start cooking and don’t enterprise. It’s usually a new style of cooking for people, so you need to trust your teacher.
PSL: What is your favorite recipe from your own cookbook?
AS: Kheema, the ground beef dish, is on my family’s table every two weeks. It’s quick, simple, and a huge hit with my girls!
PSL: Are there any specific ingredients that inspire you?
AS: Seasonal produce. I just can’t get enough.
PSL: If you’re having a few guests over, what’s a go-to dish you always prepare?
AS: Baba ghanoush. I don’t have great timing so I like having something for people to nosh on when they get to my house.
PSL: Was there one specific incident or moment when you realized you wanted to be a chef?
AS: I don’t consider myself a chef — I’ve never run a kitchen — but I remember the first moment someone hired me to cook on television. I couldn’t believe that I was (a) being asked to do it and (b) getting paid for it. It was surreal and such a gift.
Be part of Aarti’s party
Aarti Sequeira will hold a demo in Ferguson Demonstration Tent No. 1 at 2:30 p.m. March 25, with a book signing on the patio.
She will hold a second demo and book signing in Ferguson Demonstration Tent No. 1 at 11:30 a.m. March 26, for VIP ticket holders only.