Food Network has its next star, and Aarti Party will debut Sunday

The Next Food Network Star concluded with the inevitable announcement that Aarti Sequeira would get her own show on the network. Aarti Party–they’re sticking with that name, though without the additional “a” in “party”–will debut Sunday at noon. Big chef Tom Pizzica and big muscled Herb Mesa were the other two finalists.

I’ve said that certain wins seemed inevitable this summer, but Aarti’s was perhaps the most assured. From early on, she was super-comfortable in front of the camera, and was warm and likable (unlike, say, that creep Paul), never mind the fact that she produced consistently great food. Also, the network could use some diversity in its cuisine and personalities, so it was a win all around. I think most of the focus on her self-confidence was just to make us doubt the inevitability of her win.

The season was pretty great overall, though I did have a major problem with the finale. In the final moments, the finalists stood facing the selection committee–Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson remain two of my favorite reality TV judges of all time–and a wall of photos of Food Network stars. Aarti’s picture was in the center, covered until her win was announced. My problem is that Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten was relegated all the way at the end, with Emeril Lagasse next to her and closer to the action in the middle. Emeril basically left the network when his show ended in 2008, and he’s still more important than Ina? Please.

Update: Food Network announced that Tom Pizzica will also get his own show. Like Adam Gertler’s multiple series, Tom’s show will take advantage of his personality rather than his cooking and demonstration prowess. According to the network, which buried the news in the last line of its press release, Tom “will host the new primetime series Outrageous Food, premiering November 2010. Production begins today for this traveling food show featuring out-of-this-world eats.”

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