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The Next Food Network Star Episode 9: 'Basically, I can die happy.'

The final 4--Herb, Aarti, Aria, and Tom--prepare to take on an Iron Chef America battle (Photo courtesy The Food Network/Used with permission)
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For its sixth season, The Next Food Network Star was shot in Los Angeles, and among the 12 finalists vying for their very own Food Network show are 3 locals, including food blogger and LAist alum Aarti Sequeira. Each week, Aarti will give us her take on the episode, from her unique insider's perspective. Will she be named The Next Food Network Star? We won't know until the finale. Last week things heated up with an "emotion" powered meal for Todd English and Eva Longoria at their restaurant Beso; here's how Episode 9 looked from inside the kitchen...

Iron Chef is like the Olympics of the culinary world.

I mean, apart from the Bocuse d’Or, but even then, you get to practice your menu for weeks. Here, you’re presented with your ingredient, and you IMMEDIATELY have to come up with a perfect, creative, daring menu that showcases the ingredient, which can range from the mundane to the esoteric.

For a home cook like me, doing an Iron Chef battle is like asking a moderate Runyon hiker to tackle Everest. So if you watched last night, and watched the uptick in my heartbeat register on my face, you KNOW how scared I was.