How a Mexican-American Chef Is Mentoring Latino Restaurateurs In Los Angeles

Aarón Sánchez is presenting a new series on Discovery Familia in which he serves as mentor to six restaurants run by Latinos in the Californian city

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April 18, 2023 | 12:09 PM

Bloomberg Línea — Mexican-American chef Aarón Sánchez will serve as a mentor to six Latino-run restaurants in Los Angeles in a new show on the Discovery Familia channel, ‘El toque de Aarón’ (Aarón’s Touch), in which the 47-year-old native of Chihuahua will work with the restaurateurs to help them boost their businesses.

Sánchez, who is also an author of recipe books, has already gained fame as a TV chef, having appeared on the shows ‘Chef vs City’ and ‘Taco Trip’, which he hosted for the Cooking Channel, and which was nominated for an Emmy.

He also co-starred in Food Network’s hit series ‘Chopped’ and ‘Chopped Jr.’, and appeared on ‘Iron Chef America’, being one of the few chefs whose battles ended in a draw, tying with 67-year-old Japanese chef Masahuru Morimoto in ‘Battle Black Bass’ during the show’s second season.

Sánchez has also acted as a judge and co-host on Fox’s reality-TV culinary competition series MasterChef, alongside celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Christina Tosi.


Sánchez is joined on the new TV show, which began airing Monday and is also broadcast by HGTV, by designer Cris Mercado and project manager Ángel Riveros, who as a team have four days to carry out a refurbishment of the restaurant and draw up new menus.

Sánchez has also gained fame as a philanthropist, launching the Fondo de Becas Aarón Sánchez, a fellowship that supports up-and-coming chefs from the Latino community in the US in order that they can enroll on cookery courses at prestigious academies.

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From Chihuahua to New Orleans

Born in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, Sanchez moved with his family at an early age to El Paso, Texas, where he helped his mother prepare traditional Mexican dishes for her catering business. In 1984, the family moved to Nw York, where his mother opened the Café Marimba, where Sánchez began to work in the kitchen as a professional chef.


At the age of 16, Sánchez’s mother sent him to New Orleans to work with the late Paul Prudhomme, the chef-proprietor of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, and whose specialties were Creole and Cajun cuisine, and which he is crediting with popularizing.

Sánchez graduated from Dwight School in Manhattan in 1994 and began working full-time for Prudhomme, before studying culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, before returning to New York to work at Patria under renowned Latino chef Douglas Rodriguez, and where Sánchez met Alex García, his future business partner.

García left Patria in 1996 to open Erizo Latino, where he was joined by Sánchez, with the latter then moving to L-Ray, a restaurant focusing on Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico cuisine. After a stint at Cuban-themed restaurant Isla, Sánchez relocated to San Francisco to work with chef Reed Hearon at Rose Pistola.

Sánchez was hired by Eamon Furlong in 2000 to open Paladar, a pan-Latin restaurant on the Lower East Side, which was named Time Out New York’s ‘Best New Lower East Side Restaurant’ in 2001. Sánchez went on to become chef of Mexican New York eatery Céntrico before opening Johnny Sánchez in Baltimore with fellow chef John Besh in 2014, opening another branch in New Orleans the same year.

Sánchez and his business partners Miles Landrem and Drew Mire purchased and now own Johnny Sánchez.

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