Celebrity chef Aarti Sequeira owned the lunch crowd of about 150 patients and staff at the Alameda Health System-Highland Hospital Cafe on Thursday, with a cooking demonstration of her favorite turmeric-cumin potato dish, and a hot meal menu adapted from recipes in her new cookbook, “Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with Indian Soul.”
Sequeira greeted patients, staff and guests as they selected their dishes, by explaining the origins of her Indian-inspired recipes and the importance of key ingredients to maintaining good health.
“Health has always been part of my awareness in cooking,” Sequeira said. “Indian cooking always considers food as the first responder in medical issues… whether it’s cooking bitter melon to lower sugar levels in the blood or adding large quantities of garlic, the medicinal value of the herbs and spices is an important feature of Indian cuisine.” And in her British accent, Sequeira was playfully quick to add that she pronounces it “herbs” with an “h”.
Sequeira is best known for winning season six of the Food Network’s reality competition, Next Food Network Star, followed by her own show, Aarti Party, on the same channel. She is frequently seen as a guest judge on the network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” competition and “Chopped”, shows which feature celebrity judging contestants trying to deliver gourmet meals from seemingly impossible lists of ingredients.
The Highland Hospital Café featured Sequeira’s healthy and flavorful recipes with entrees like “India Summer Stew,” “Broccoli and Dill Raita Slaw,” “Tomato-Yogurt Chicken Curry” and “Tofu and Vegetable Tikka Masala, all accompanied with Sequeira’s “beloved” Basmati rice.
In addition, Hihgland Café leadership raffled 10 signed copies of Sequeira’s cookbook to lucky diners following her demonstration.
Sequeira’s visit is the second in a series of Celebrity Guest Chef events at Highland Hospital.