- Category: Interviews
- Published: Friday, 29 June 2018 18:08
Acclaimed chef Aaron Sanchez returns with Gordon Ramsay as a judge on "Masterchef" Season 9, but he considers himself less a critic and more of a mentor for these home cooks competing for the title of MASTERCHEF.
Sanchez joins award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay and restaurateur Joe Bastianich on Season 9 of the hit cooking competition series, "Masterchef". This season the judges will hand out eight aprons to worthy home cooks who will learn how to break down a crab, cook and serve 25 Southern California wildfire heroes, and prepare and serve a beer-infused lunch for 101 employees of the Anheuser Busch Brewery. Only one will take the title of MASTERCHEF and the $250,000 grand prize jackpot.
Sanchez, an award-winning chef, TV personality, cookbook author and philanthropist, is no stranger to cooking shows, having co-starred on Food Network’s “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior." As a judge, he realizes that his comments can make or break a person's future career in the kitchen and their spirit.
"It's very emotional," he tells CineMovie. "It's a combination of a lot of people's food dreams. It's poignant at times, very difficult. My job is very challenging at times."
For the judges on "Masterchef," it's not a brief contact but a 3 month investment in the home cooks, and he's rooting for the competitors to succeed rather than break them down.
"It allows us to really mentor and really impart our experience and knowledge with them."
Regardless of the outcome, the Chef hopes they come out being good cooks. Sanchez is also invested in finding the next generation of Latinos in the kitchen outside of the reality tv show setting by giving back to the Latino community. The Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund empowers aspiring Latino chefs looking to follow their dreams in attending culinary school. One of the success stories out of Season 8 of "Masterchef" was 19-year-old Gabriel from Oklahoma who impressed both Ramsay and Sanchez because of his commitment to the craft and his family. "He showed so much skill and promise that Gordon chose him to mentor and he offered him a job," according to the acclaimed Chef.
Having to facing Gordon Ramsay on the show most likely will make any contestant's legs jiggle like jello, but is he as tough when the cameras aren't rolling?
"Oh, my god! He is the most lovely man you've ever met," says Sanchez. We have a really wonderful rapport. We have a lot of mutual respect. He's the real deal. He backs up what he says. What people sometimes confuse his intensity can be perceived as very brazen but it's not actually. His standards are so high as mine are that it rubs people the wrong way sometimes because their going for mediocrity."
Sanchez also had a great relationship with Anthony Michael Bourdain, the American celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and television personality who took his own life on June 8. He considered him a really good friend for the last 20 years. They starred together in "Kitchen Confidential" in 2000. Sanchez recalls when he had just opened up his NY restaurant Talavar, and Bourdain looked to him for insight into his own cooks' mind set.
"We talked about Mexico because he was very passionate about the background of a lot of his cooks that were Mexican."
He adds they also bonded over their families and lamented on having to spend so little time with them because of the demands of their jobs.
Sanchez doesn't view cooking as purely a business venture. He believes bonding with your children over cooking can strengthen and shape a personality.
"I'm 100% behind that. As a parent I really do believe that if you teach kids to cook early on, they are only going to become better people. It's one of the interest that young people are having and it's connecting people at home with their family. It's allowing them to slow down."
Sanchez comes from a long line of cooks with his Mexican-born mother also being a restauranteur and author, and his grandmother also a cookbook author. He never felt the machismo attitude growing up thanks to his strong matriarchal family.
"I was brought up with the strongest woman a man could ever have. I never felt any of that kind of discrimination in my household. My mom was daddy, granddaddy and everybody so I grew up with a very strong mom. I don't share that narrative like most traditional Latin families."
For Sanchez, his family was his inspiration, and continues to be so. For those wanting to follow in his footsteps specifically young connoisseurs, he urges beginners to not do it for the fame or celebrity. He recommends two special ingredients needed for success.
"Do it because you're passionate about it. Put people's needs before yours."
He also suggests figuring out a speciality to focus on.
He practices what he preaches. Starring on shows like "Masterchef Junior" and the current season of "Masterchef" adds value to his own life that has nothing to do with gaining exposure or fame.
"It was an unbelievable journey to meet these young people and who adults really hang on to their food dreams and have the confidence to go further with it, is really rewarding and is one of those things in life you're honored to be part of."
Watch Chef Aaron Sanchez on "Masterchef" Wednesdays, 8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT.