Trailblazer. Taco King. Joker. Genius. Chef Aarón Sánchez, host of the Emmy-nominated Taco Trip, part owner of two Johnny Sánchez restaurants, and arguably the most recognizable face on Food Network's Chopped, has been called a lot of things.
But before the fame, awards, and accolades, Sánchez was called something else: mijo, by his mom, legendary TV host, cookbook author, and restaurateur Zarela Martinez, whom he credits with paving the way for today's Latina chefs.
"I’d be lying to you if I said that when I started doing this 20 years ago there were a lot of women chefs. Even more seldom were Latina chefs."
"But," he adds, "my mom didn’t complain, and if my mom complained about opportunity and unfair treatment, we wouldn’t be where we are today."
Discovered by Chef Paul Prudhome in a New Orleans cooking class in 1979, Martinez's work at renowned NYC restaurants Café Marimba and Zarela is credited with introducing regional Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers. It was in his mother’s kitchens that Sánchez cut his culinary teeth. It's also where he gained a profound respect for Latina chefs.