Latin cuisine aficionado and kick ass chef Aarón Sánchez has a new show on Cooking Channel (Tuesday's at 6:30pm PST/9:30 EST) called "Taco Trip" and we are all in. Traveling the country for great grub isn't new but Aarón's take on it certainly is because let's be honest, everyone loves a good taco but not everyone can deliver it. We trust this man's judgment so before he visits Portland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, Nashville, and Chicago on a quest to feed his hunger, we talked to him about the new show, his new line of cookware, and his new restaurant. Talk about starting off a new year being brand new. Well done Sánchez.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I'm pretty positive that Santa will be bringing me the double burner griddle from your new cookware line and I'm pretty pumped. Is there something that you think is a "must have" item in your collection?
Aarón Sánchez: Thank you for representing me and supporting! That's awesome! That griddle is great for grilled cheese, searing tomatoes to make salsa, and all sorts of stuff. I really like that piece that you are getting and I really like the bean pot too. It's this really cool kind of rustic looking pot for beans and I absolutely love that.
I know we're here to talk about your new show but first please indulge me with a question about Chopped because one might say I am "Chopped obsessed." Do you ever get served something that the other judges hate but you love and want to call them out on it?
Yeah, once in a while. [Laughs.] For the most part we agree about 80% of the time. That's why there are three of us though because there are many instances where two will agree and one of us won't. That person will get pushed through because the majority wins. But yeah, there have been some occasions where I've tasted something that I've liked and they disagree. That's part of the drill though. That's why we do the show. It wouldn't be fun if we all agreed all of the time!
Very true. I just love that show. I'll even watch repeats. I have a problem.
[Laughs.] That's OK. I fully support you.
Ha, thank you. So tell me about Taco Trip. Besides eating a bunch of delicious tacos, what else will you be covering?
Well it's not just only about the tacos for instance, I had some delicious chorizo chili cheese curds in Chicago. It's more about the iconic stuff that we'll be representing in the show so it's not just all about tacos. Obviously tacos create a vehicle and a format for creativity though so we definitely want to highlight that.
And Taco Trip is a catchy name too! Good job with that. Where were some stand-out places that you went to chow down?
I really enjoyed my boy's restaurant "Big Star" in Chicago, I liked this food truck in Nashville called "Smoke Et Al," and I really liked "Lolo" in San Francisco where I had a fried shrimp taco that was really delicious.
What about in general? Do you have a favorite spot that you always hit up?
I go to Big Star quite a bit if I'm in Chicago, that's always my main spot because they have a DJ and great street food. So yeah, I eat there a lot!
Obviously we all know you're the master when it comes to Latin cuisine but, did you learn anything that totally surprised you while filming?
Absolutely! I learned about cooking carnitas in their own fat, which I knew but, letting the meat cool down over night really effects the texture. That's a great thing. Also with chicharrón, cooking the pork skin for three hours, then cooling it down, and then recooking it in lard so it puffs up. I really learned a new way to make chicharrón. It's awesome. That's the good thing about my business, I'm always learning and always inspired every day. That's what keeps me alive.
Oh I can't wait to learn about carnitas, it's one of my fav ever! OK last thing, I saw a post by Lyrics Born saying that he was shooting something for Taco Trip. Will you be having any other special guest join you on the show?
Yeah! I think what makes the show awesome is that Paul Kahan is one of my best friends from Chicago and he was on the show, my uncle is on the show, and my partner for my taqueria in New Orleans "Johnny Sánchez" and best friend John Besh is on the show too. It was also really cool to be able to shoot in my restaurant Johnny Sánchez because it's brand new. That was a lot of fun. The show is a real personal journey for me and the people who are involved in it are people that I love.
Make sure you tune in to catch Taco Trip with Aarón Sánchez on the Cooking Channel Tuesday nights at 6:30pm (PST)/ 9:30pm (ET). For more info on the show, go to www.CookingChannel.com. For more on Aarón, be sure to check out his website www.ChefAaronSanchez.com and follow him on Twitter @Chef_Aaron.