Aarón Sánchez, born in 1976, in El Paso, Texas, is the son of Zarela Martinez, a restaurateur and author of several cookbooks. He is one of the five to have been a judge on Chopped in every one of its fourteen seasons.
Aarón began cooking at an early age while helping his mother create traditional Mexican dishes for her catering business. The Sánchez family moved to New York in 1984, where his mother launched the acclaimed Café Marimba. Aarón continued his hands on training, as he now began to cook in a professional kitchen. At age 16, his accumulated cooking skill earned him a place in a masterclass with chef Paul Prud'homme. Sánchez graduated high school in 1992, and began to work full time for chef Prud'homme in New Orleans.
After cooking under Prudhomme, Aarón travelled north in 1993 to study culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. He returned to New York in 1994, and worked in the kitchen at "Patria" under chef Douglas Rodriguez. Sánchez left "Patria" in 1996 with fellow chef Alex Garcia to open "Erizo Latino." The venture gained positive reviews, referring to the restaurant as "casual" and "earthy." One review stated "the fare is enticingly wholesome, and the kitchen's best dishes make a fine introduction to the cooking of Central and South America."
In 2000 Eamon Furlong hired Sánchez to open "Paladar," a pan-Latin restaurant on New York's lower east side. After opening in February 2001, it won Time Out New York's award for 'Best New Lower East Side Restaurant' of the year. "Paladar" went on to be named the 'Best Latin American Restaurant' in their 2002 Eating and Drinking Guide. "Paladar" has been reviewed as being "a colorful, lively circus of a restaurant that’s equal parts serious cooking and serious partying." It was named a 'Critic's Pick' by New York magazine.
- Co-host of "Melting Pot" with Alex Garcia on Food Network.
- Guest on the "Boy Meets Grill" episode "Latin Style Sizzle."
- Battled to a draw against Masaharu Morimoto on the "Iron Chef America" episode "Battle Black Bass" in Season 2.
- Competed on "The Next Iron Chef," was eliminated in Episode 4, "Creativity Under Pressure".
- Recurring judge on the Food Network series "Chopped."
- Gave chef Bobby Flay tips on the puffy taco on "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay."
- Co-hosted "Chefs vs. City" with Chris Cosentino on Food Network.
- 'La Comida del Barrio: Latin-American Cooking in the U.S.A.'