Aarón Sánchez in 2009
February 12, 1976 (age 42)|
El Paso, Texas, US
|Education||Johnson & Wales University|
|Cooking style||Cajun cuisine, Louisiana Creole cuisine, Mexican cuisine|
Aarón Sánchez (born February 12, 1976) is a Mexican-American award-winning celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, cookbook author and philanthropist. He is the executive chef and part-owner of the Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez with a location in New Orleans. He co-starred on Food Network’s hit series Chopped and Chopped Jr. and hosted of Cooking Channel's Emmy-nominated Taco Trip. He has appeared on Iron Chef America, and is one of the few chefs whose battles have ended in a draw, tying with Masaharu Morimoto in "Battle Black Bass" in Season 2. He was also a contestant on The Next Iron Chef. He is also the author of two cookbooks. An active philanthropist, Sánchez launched the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, an initiative empowering aspiring chefs from the Latin community to follow their dreams and attend culinary school. As of 2017, he is one of the judges/co-hosts of Fox’s hit culinary competition series Masterchef US. Since Season 8, he co-hosts alongside Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich (2018-present) and Christina Tosi (2017).
Aarón and his twin brother Rodrigo, an attorney in New York City, were born in 1976, in El Paso, Texas, to Zarela Martinez, a restaurateur and the author of several cookbooks, and Adolfo Sanchez. He began cooking at an early age, helping his mother prepare traditional Mexican foods for her catering business. In 1984, the family moved to New York, and his mother launched the acclaimed Café Marimba, and Sánchez began to cook in a professional kitchen. At age 16, Sánchez's mother sent him to New Orleans to spend the summer working with chef Paul Prudhomme. In 1994, Sánchez graduated from The Dwight School, and began to work full-time for Prudhomme in New Orleans. Aarón was married to singer Ife Mora from 2009 until 2012. He also has a son named Yuma.
In 1996, after working under Prudhomme, Aarón returned north to study culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1996, he returned to New York, and worked in the kitchen at Patria under nuevo-Latino chef, Douglas Rodriguez. Sánchez met his future business partner, Alex Garcia while working there.
Garcia left Patria in 1996 to open Erizo Latino, taking Sanchez to help open the restaurant. Reviews were positive, referring to the restaurant as "casual" and "earthy," and "the fare is enticingly wholesome, and the kitchen's best dishes make a fine introduction to the cooking of Central and South America."
Sanchez then became executive chef at L-Ray, which specialized in foods from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. This was followed by another executive chef position at Isla , a restaurant inspired by pre-Revolutionary Cuba. Sanchez then moved to San Francisco, working under Chef Reed Hearon at Rose Pistola.
Eamon Furlong hired Sánchez in 2000, to open Paladar, a pan-Latin restaurant on the Lower East Side. It opened in February 2001, and won Time Out New York's award for Best New Lower East Side Restaurant that year. It went on to be named the Best Latin American Restaurant in their 2002 Eating and Drinking Guide. Paladar had been reviewed as being "colorful, lively circus of a restaurant that’s equal parts serious cooking and serious partying," and was named a Critic's Pick by New York magazine. Sánchez sold his interest in the Paladar restaurant in 2010.
Sanchez went on to become chef of Mexican New York eatery Centrico, which closed in 2012.
He opened the taqueria Johnny Sanchez in Baltimore with fellow chef John Besh in August 2014. The Baltimore location closed in September 2017. The pair opened a second Johnny Sanchez location in October 2014 in New Orleans.
In 2017, he joined Masterchef US Season 8 as a judge alongside Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi, replacing Graham Elliot, to taste and help judge contestants' cooking and baking with Ramsay and Tosi in order to crown the next Masterchef. He is an expert in many cooking techniques and global cuisines, but his specialty of cooking traditional Mexican cuisine is often used throughout the season.
- Melting Pot - co-host with Alex Garcia on Food Network.
- Boy Meets Grill - Guest on episode "Latin Style Sizzle"
- Iron Chef America - against Masaharu Morimoto in "Battle Black Bass" in Season 2.
- The Next Iron Chef - eliminated in Episode 4, "Creativity Under Pressure".
- Chopped - recurring judge; First Runner-Up on Chopped All-Stars
- Throwdown! with Bobby Flay - Puffy Taco episode. Gave Bobby tips on the puffy taco.
- Chefs vs. City - co-host with Chris Cosentino on Food Network
- Heat Seekers - co-host with Roger Mooking on Food Network
- Aaron loves New York - host on Utilisima
- The Taste - Guest judge on episode "Guilty Pleasures"
- Taco Trip - host
- Finding Your Roots - guest star
- MasterChef - Guest co-host season 7, Judge season 8 & 9
- Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse - episode 6 "Forbidden Cuba" on Amazon Prime Video
- MasterChef Junior - Guest judge in season 5, episode 3 "Just Like Gordon"
- Simple Food Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, 2011, ISBN 978-1451611502
- "Zarela Martinez". Thirteen. WNET. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Beccaglia, Fernanda (November 29, 2013). ""Chopped" Judge Aaron Sanchez Gets Personal About Food and Life". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Walker, Judy (October 25, 2011). ""Chopped" chef Aaron Sanchez in New Orleans to revamp House of Blues menu". The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "The Dining in SoHo Is Snug but Worldly". The New York Times. November 24, 1996. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- Terrero, Nina (August 16, 2012). "Chef Spotlight: Aaron Sanchez on cooking for his kids and making Mexican cuisine easy". NBC Latino. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- New York Magazine - Paladar - Lower East Side
- Morabito, Greg (August 29, 2012). "Nieporent's Centrico to be replaced by Distilled NY". Eater. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Price, Todd A. (October 7, 2014). "Johnny Sanchez brings Aaron Sanchez back to New Orleans to team with John Besh". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- Roterman, Natalie (June 23, 2016). "'MasterChef' Season 7: When, Where To Watch Aarón Sánchez, Claudia Sandoval Episodes". Latin Times. Newsweek Media Group. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- Trainor, Michelle Ward (August 25, 2016). "Emeril Lagasse Reveals the Craziest Thing He Ate While Traveling the World for His New Series". People food. Time Inc. Retrieved July 8, 2017.