- Courtesy Airbnb
- Chef Aarón Sánchez has been a judge on “MasterChef” since season eight, a part-owner of a Mexican restaurant, and is releasing his third book in October.
- Sánchez spoke with Insider about cooking for President Obama, Gordon Ramsay, a run-in with Charlize Theron, his recent partnership with Airbnb for Work, and more.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more.
“He’s actually lovely,” Sanchez told Insider of Ramsay, who can come across as quite intimidating on TV.
“He has very high standards, but so long as you do what you need to do, he’s the absolute best and a really great mentor,” he added.
Sánchez isn’t only a judge on the Fox series. He keeps really busy. The two-time author is releasing his third book, “Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef,” October 1 and he’s also a part-owner of the Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez. Used to being on the road for months at a time, Sánchez recently partnered with Airbnb for Work, which has made it easier for him to feel more at home with his family when he’s away.
Sánchez told Insider his best cooking tip for when you’re on the road, about a celebrity run-in with Charlize Theron that caught him off-guard, and what Gordon Ramsay is really like.
1. Your new book is called “Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef.” What is one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?
Work hard, never take shortcuts and always stay curious.
- Greg Gayne/Fox
2. What is your go-to meal to cook?
A simple quesadilla when I’m tired or a whole roasted chicken when friends or family are coming over.
3. What is your best tip for cooking on the road?
Always get fresh herbs and spices from wherever you are and bring a few versatile tools with you such as a good knife, cutting board, and a molcajete or mortar and pastel.
- Courtesy Airbnb
4. What’s the most overrated food trend right now – the thing you see on a menu that makes you roll your eyes?
Fusion. I generally say fusion leads to confusion.
5. What is the best thing you’ve ever cooked that you’re most proud of?
I cooked for the Obamas at the White House and that was pretty cool. My mom also cooked for Reagan at the White House so it was kind of a cool legacy thing.
6. Who do you admire most in your field and why?
I have to say Gordon [Ramsay] is one of the people in my life that I look up to the most. He’s a really hard worker, holds himself to the same high standards he holds others, and he’s an incredible family man.
7. What is Gordon Ramsay really like in person?
He’s actually lovely. You know he’s a family man. He just had his fifth child, and he is so sweet. He has very high standards, but so long as you do what you need to do, he’s the absolute best and a really great mentor.
- Matt Frost/FOX
8. What has been your favorite cooking series to be a part of – “Iron Chef,” “MasterChef,” “MasterChef Jr.”, “Chopped,” “Chopped Jr.” – and why?
“MasterChef” and “MasterChef Jr.” have honestly been my favorites because we get so long with the contestants and can truly mentor them. The other shows, we only got a day or two with them, and this just feels like they get so much out of it whether they win or not.
9. Who is the last person who gave you a really good piece of advice and what was it?
Chef Paul Prudhomme. He taught me that pairing proteins with what that animal is supposed to eat is the best way to reintroduce the terrain in a natural way.
10. What is the greatest source of inspiration from another country you’ve found for your cooking?
I love Southeast Asian flavors and cooking techniques. Cooking in a wok has always mesmerized me and I really like the way everything is so evenly cooked and seasoned.
- Courtesy Airbnb
11. What is the hardest thing about living in another location for six months at a time?
One of the hardest things is having to bring everything with me that I’ll need and having to anticipate that, so that’s why I love staying in Airbnbs. Staying in a home allows me to cook and have a private space to relax and they have all the things I need that I may have left at home. It’s all just very seamless and private and feels as though everything has been thought out and taken care of for me, which is just such a luxury.
- Courtesy Airbnb
12. What are the positives to staying in an Airbnb for six months at a time instead of a hotel or somewhere else? What is your advice to someone who is doing this or wants to try it out?
I love staying at Airbnbs because it makes life on the road so much more comfortable. I get to really unwind and have a comfortable space for me and my family to relax and enjoy our time together when I’m not working. I love that I can have a couple bedrooms for guests and family members to come stay and that we usually get a backyard and a barbecue so it feels like I’m back home.
13. Who is the most important person in your life and why?
My son. He is my reason for getting up in the morning and why I always strive to be the best version of myself.
14. Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity? If so, who was it?
I actually was mistaken for Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, while at a dog training class.
- Fox, David Becker/Getty Images
15. Have you ever been star struck? Who was it and what happened?
Charlize Theron came up to me in a restaurant and said hello and that she loved my work. I was so confused at first, but it was an honor.
16. What’s the last show you binged?
“True Detective.” I love stuff like that and it’s based in Louisiana so I got super into it.