food & drink

His Mother Encouraged Him To Follow His Culinary Dreams. Now He’s A Judge On MasterChef

Celebrity chef, philanthropist, restaurant owner and MasterChef judge, those are just a few titles used for Aarón Sanchez. The chef opened his first restaurant in 2000 and has been spreading his food and expertise since then. Not only does Sanchez give aspiring chefs tough critiques on MasterChef, he also provides a scholarship for aspiring Latino chefs. Sanchez spoke with mitú about his time as a chef, growing up in a non-machismo home and what he hopes his successes could mean for other Latinos trying to follow in his footsteps.

You might recognize Aarón Sanchez as one of the judges on MasterChef.

The chef has lent his expertise and tough critiques to contestants on season 8 and season 9. He was also a guest co-host during season 7. All this has come after a long career as a chef spreading his food and appreciation far and wide.

As a child, Sanchez was surrounded by strong women who made their own marks on the culinary world.

#TBT Mama's little helper #MexiCAN

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Sanchez says that machismo was not something that he ever experienced in his childhood. In fact, his mother and grandmother nurtured his interest in food as they themselves made their names in food.

“My mom had a restaurant for 30 years in New York City. She’s an author of three cookbooks,” Sanchez recalls about his upbringing. “My grandmother also wrote a cookbook. All the women in my family were absolutely essential in my formation and my love for food. Without them I wouldn’t be the man I am today.”

But the one bit of advice his mother did stress was finding his own culinary voice.

“I told my mom I wanted to be a chef and all she said to me was ‘to continue to go through your craft, make sure that you find your voice, and don’t be a retrogradation of me,'” Sanchez says. “That was the biggest piece of advice she gave me when I told her I wanted to be a chef.”

As a chef, his career began and grew alongside Anthony Bourdain’s.

In 2000, Bourdain published his infamous “Kitchen Confidential” book. That was the same year that Sanchez opened his first restaurant.

“We used to run into each other a lot in social settings and at the farmers market and we kind of ran with the same crew,” Sanchez remembers about his friendship with Bourdain. “He was someone that I considered a great friend.” He added: “I remember his unbelievable wit, I remember how smart he was and how grateful he was to have his opportunity, to touch so many people through television. He was a self-proclaimed mesa.”

Sanchez admits that his career and experiences were shaped by his friendship with Bourdain.

“One thing he would always say was, learn the culture and make friends along the way and open yourself up and make sure you’re not just there to extract recipes from them,” he says. “You’re there to make friendship and bonds.”

“Food has done a lot [for me],” Sanchez explains.

It is something so important to his life that he can’t imagine himself doing anything different.

“It’s allowed me to be able to inspire others, it’s allowed me to maintain my culture, stay close to my family,” Sanchez says. “It’s given me an unbelievable lifestyle and it’s allowed me to travel the world.”

Food has been so pivotal to his life that he set up a scholarship fund to help other Latinos become chefs in their own right.

The idea for the foundation came to Sanchez because he wanted to make sure he was recognizing the next generation of talent.

“I wanted to create the next executive chefs and [restaurant] owners of Latino descent,” Sanchez explains. “That was really the goal behind it, and education is the most important [part].”

And even Sanchez has been touched by the students who use the scholarship, like Oswaldo Rios.

“He was the first one and I remember giving him the scholarship. His grandmother and mother came to the actual unveiling of him winning and all of them were crying,” Sanchez remembers. “No one could believe that he had gotten to this point. It was one of those things where you could tell it was something that they didn’t think was attainable. So that was a very touching moment.”

The one piece of advice Sanchez has for new chefs and restaurant owners: develop your voice.

The Mexi-Cans have arrived in Oxford!! Watch out @johnnysnack @tiomarioog

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“Make sure that you have developed a culinary style and voice,” Sanchez says. “Whether that’s working 10 years with different chefs or traveling. Continue to refine your cooking ability. Through that you will find the style that you feel will be engaging enough to sustain a restaurant.”

You can catch up with Sanchez on MasterChef every Wednesday 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST.

READ: This Blind Latina Didn’t Just Become a Chef, She Also Opened Her Own Restaurant in Chicago

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20 Latino Ice Cream Spots In LA You Should Definitely Try Out When You Visit

Food & Drink

20 Latino Ice Cream Spots In LA You Should Definitely Try Out When You Visit / dripsandswirls / Instagram

There are countless choices out there for ice cream and it doesn’t have to be limited to summer. Oh, and ice cream has become really cool these days. Gone are the days of your plain old waffle cone and ice cream replaced with creations we could only dream of when we were younger. Here are 20 Latino-owned ice cream spots you should check out the next time you are in Los Angeles.

1. Elado Ice Cream

With a big selection of ice cream sandwiches and cakes, you can’t go wrong at Elado Ice Cream. They specialize in ice cream cakes which means they have mastered different ways to add ice cream into almost anything. From ice cream cupcakes to sandwiches they’ve got you covered. This ice cream joint has two locations in Pico Rivera and Anaheim, California. 

2. La Michoacana Ice Cream Parlor

Just a glance at these treats and you’re ready to make the drive to get your hands on one of them. Say hello to La Michoacana, this ice cream parlor takes a page right out of some of your favorite Mexican treats and combines them with ice cream. From the mangonadas to the chamoy paletas, it’s all here in its ice cream glory. There are multiple locations across southern California to choose from.

3. Crescendo Ice Cream LA

It’s an ice cream experiment that went terribly good and that’s just the start of it at Crescendo Ice Cream. This ice cream business doesn’t have a store at the moment but are frequently seen at various food and dessert festivals across SoCal. They specialize in nitro ice cream which is ice cream made with liquid nitrogen that melts quickly in your mouth.

4.  Ice Cream Garden

Ever wanted to plant and grow your own ice cream? Well now you can. Well not really but this is as close as you can get thanks to Ice Cream Garden, which serves your treat right out of a plant pot. It’s one of the craziest ice creams you’ll ever see and it looks delicious. They have pop-up shops and cater across the LA area. 

5. Mateo’s Ice Cream

For fans of paletas you can’t go wrong with Mateos’s Ice Cream located in the Westchester district of South L.A. This Mexican ice cream shop has been serving up tasty treats for decades and is famous for its pomegranate popsicles. This is a hole in a wall that foodies can’t miss whenever in the area. 

6. Cascada Refrescante

If you’re a fans of mangonadas this is your spot. Cascada Refrescante is a juice bar located in Buena Park and has some of the most refreshing smoothies and ice cream your eyes will ever lay on. All of their smoothies and juices come with an array of fruits and toppings you won’t find anywhere else. 

7. Paleteria la Mexicana

La Mexicana’s special brand of paleta invites customers into their shop to enjoy flavors more colorful and numerous than any other shop you can imagine. Located in Long Beach, this paleta shop is a Latino haven with its fruitful selection and tasty popsicles. 

8.  10 Below

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Who would ever guess that smores and ice cream would be the perfect combination? Well say hello to 10 Below. There are multiple locations on the east coast and just recently a new store opened in LA. 10 Below specializes in ice cream rolls with flavors like nutella, key lime pie and their famous rainbow unicorn.

9. Horchateria Rio Luna

There are many imitations of the concha ice cream but few do it justice like Horchateria Rio Luna does it. With an array of concha flavors and ice cream this is junk food heaven for the Latino in us all. Also try out the horchata selection while you’re at it, it’s just as good as the ice cream.

10.  Drips and Swirls

One of the biggest trends in ice cream right now is charcoal soft serve because of the unique almond flavor. Drips and Swirls are one of the original ice cream shops to start the fad and have quite a loyal following of fans because of flavors like pina stawberry and charcoal water mango. Located near downtown LA, Dips and Swirls even has a happy hour Tuesday-Friday 3-6 p.m., which gives an even better reason to check it out. 

11.  Zury’s Raspados

Growing up raspados were a big part of most Mexican childhoods and it’s no surprise many of us still crave these icy treats. Zury’s Raspados has brought your childhood back with their diablitos raspados that look as good as they taste. With multiple locations in LA, they offer mangonados, tostilocos and array of Mexican treats. 

12. Rico Tejuino Los Reyes

Located in Lincoln Heights, Rico Tejuino Los Reyes is mom and pop shop that you’ll keep coming back to. Most LA locals will tell you this is best place to get paletas and their specialty ice cream flavors of tamarindo and fresca. Make sure to arrive early as lines are usually out the door for this little gem. 

13. La Flor De Michoacan

It’s not hard to find paletas when in L.A. but finding one you’re going to keep going back to is another question. La Flor De Michoacan is the ice cream shop that you’re going to wanna tell your friends about. Their specialty is the Kiwi Strawberry paleta and their chocolate dipped paleta with almonds. This hole in a wall is located in Huntington Park and is worth the visit if you want to taste a huge choice selection of paleta flavors.  

14. Paleteria Michoacana

Paleteria Michoacana is a Mexican’s ice cream dream with its selection of paletas and raspado flavors you might not find anywhere else. Located in Westlake, this ice cream shop has you covered from juices to elotes and everything in between. Check out the chicle raspado, according to many reviews it’s one of their best sellers.

Read: These Are Some Of The Most Outrageous Ice Cream And Sorbet Flavors From Mexico

15. Peddlers Creamery

Waffle Nacho Sundae anyone? Yes you read that right and it looks as delicious as it sounds. Say hello to Peddlers Creamery. an ice cream shop on literal wheels that moves around downtown Los Angeles. Their nacho sundae is one of their most famous items along with their ice cream pie bars. 

16. Pazzo Gelato

Gelato is like the brother of ice cream but still deserves all the love. At Pazzo Gelato, located in Silver Lake, finding new ways to deliver gelato is their mission. Whether its using the waffle cone as a spoon or even whipping up an ounce of bagel gelato. Yes, there is a such thing as bagel gelato.

Read: 19 Dessert Tacos That Will Make Your Mouth Water

17. Raspados Nayarit

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Paletas dipped in a mangonadas is the perfect marriage and this little gem located in East L.A. hits all of the right notes with this treat. Raspados Nayarit is a hole in the wall shop that any local or visitor in L.A. can appreciate. It’s diablito selection is one of the best on the eastside of Los Angeles with a good selection of paletas to go along.

18. Paleteria La Reyna De Michoacan

The Pico Rivera area in L.A. is filled with countless ice cream shops but few stand out like La Reyna De Michoacan. Their chocolate dipped paleta with almonds is their specialty and with an array of flavors this shop is a must for all ice cream lovers.

19. Helados La Michoacana

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Paleta de frutas 🍓🍎🍊🍍

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If you’re a fan of fruit in paletas filled with fruit than Helados La Michoacana is your spot. Located in San Bernardino, this fruity and delicious hole in the wall is the perfect compliment to a hot summer day.

20. Churrito Loco

Churrito Loco is in category of its own thanks in part to its creativity and food nostalgia overload. I present to you the Mazapan ice cream with a churro cone that can make any Latino want to get in the car and head to this little gem. The Moreno Valley ice cream shop should be on your to-do list this summer thanks in part to it’s churro cone and its array of Mexican candy toppings.

READ: These Are Some Of The Most Outrageous Ice Cream And Sorbet Flavors From Mexico

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