Aarti Sequeira is the host of Aarti Paarti (www.youtube.com/aartipaarti) an internet cooking show that takes viewers on a playful romp through her tiny Los Angeles kitchen, where her childhood in Dubai, her Indian heritage and her culinary coming-of-age in California are braided together into budget-friendly, quick and easy recipes every week.
Aarti’s passion for food started before she could even talk. As a toddler, she sat on her mum’s kitchen counter, secretly sneaking slices of raw onion into her not-yet-toothed mouth whilst her mum was cooking. She never considered food as a career though. Instead she pursued a career in television news. Upon graduation from Northwestern University, she took a job at CNN, producing stories on the day’s major headlines, the economy and the financial markets. And yet something was still missing.
A few years later, a freshly-married Aarti moved to Los Angeles, with no job prospects. Cooking dinner for her husband, actor Brendan McNamara (director and cameraman on Aarti Paarti, as well as fellow popcorn jig-er!) became the highlight of her day. She worked her way through both The Joy of Cooking and her mum’s carefully typed out recipes, each dish turning out just a little better than the last. She began to fantasize about each night’s dinner, usually as soon as she had finished her lunch, which she had fantasized about when she finished breakfast, which she’d fantasized about since going to bed the previous evening (seeing a pattern here?).
Brendan noticed, and enrolled her in The New School of Cooking in Culver City. Upon completion, she secured an internship at Lucques, the restaurant of James Beard Award winner, Suzanne Goin, an experience that occupies a special place in Aarti’s heart. Suzanne helped her understand the underestimated power of salt, and about how to balance bold, exotic flavours with the natural, unadulterated flavour of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Aarti returned to her news roots next, co-producing Sand and Sorrow, an independent documentary from Peabody Award-winner Paul Freedman, about the crisis Darfur. Narrated by George Clooney, the film was picked up by HBO and aired last year. She continued to cook, very much by the book, too scared to stray from a chef’s instruction.
Improv comedy changed that. After her first class at Hothouse Spontaneous Theatre, she realized that if she could improvise on stage, she could improvise in the kitchen. That night, she came up with her first recipe, a roast chicken with a spiced butter she called “I-Ain’t-Chicken Chicken”. It was delicious. Emboldened, she began to post a new recipe on her blog every week, and eventually shot Aarti Paarti, her dream cooking/variety show. While that’s being edited, she decided to shoot and edit a mini-version of her show, with the help of her husband, which is the Aarti Paarti you’ll find on this site. Aarti would like to give a massive shout-out to the Lord who has been blessing this endeavour of hers. She hopes she’s doing Him proud.
Wanna get in contact? Email: aartipaarti at gmail dot com.