You’ve seen them judge the competition, battle for the title of All-Stars champion and compete in a friendly game with colleagues on After Hours, but there’s a lot you don’t know about the judges of Chopped. Here’s your chance to get to know the nine people behind the Chopping Block.
In addition to his judging duties on Chopped, Aarón Sánchez is the co-host of Food Network’s Heat Seekers with Roger Mooking. But when he’s not appearing on TV, Aarón is the chef/owner of Kansas City’s Mestizo and the culinary visionary behind Crossroads at House of Blues nationwide and Tacombi Taqueria in New York City. Aarón is also the author of two cookbooks, including Simple Food, Big Flavor. But what you might not have known about Aarón is that if he hadn’t become a chef, he might have been a mariachi singer. Find out more interesting facts about Aarón in his Q&A.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Aarón Sánchez: Really old, fermented cheeses, like an aged goat or sheep cheese. It dominates and saturates your palate and it’s hard to get past.
What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
AS: Green bell peppers. I like red bell peppers and yellow bell peppers, but green bell peppers just don’t taste like much of anything.
What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who? Details, please.
AS: One of my most memorable meals was Lespinasse in New York, when Gray Kunz was the chef. I had the loup de mer, roasted artichokes and opal basil — I’ve never had a broth with so many beautiful and intense flavors layered in. It was one of the first really fancy restaurants I ever went to; I remember the chairs being far away from the table and there was no background music.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
AS: The Parker House Rolls at John Dory in the Ace Hotel
Is there one dish that you always order out and never make at home?
AS: Fresh pastas
What kitchen tool can’t you live without?
AS: Japanese mandoline
If you weren’t in food, what career would you have liked to have tried?
AS: Mariachi singer
What’s your favorite “food city” to visit?
AS: New Orleans
What’s your favorite late-night snack?
AS: Wine and chocolate
What’s one must-have at your last supper?
AS: Roasted Chicken from Zuni Café, San Francisco
Who’s your favorite person to cook with?
AS: Chef John Besh
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Coffee or tea? Tea
Burger or hot dog? Burger
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Soda or water? Water
Sprinkles or jimmies? Sprinkles