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Food & Drink

My NOLA: 20 Questions with Aarón Sánchez

The James Beard award-winning chef and TV personality shares what he loves most about New Orleans.

These tacos are from Chef Aarón Sánchez's cooking class. (Photo: Johnny Sanchez)

Odds are, if you’ve ever turned on the Food Network, you’re familiar with Aarón Sánchez. Sánchez first started cooking as a child with his mother. As a teenager, he came to New Orleans to work with Chef Paul Prudhomme, and while his career has taken him many places since then, he has always found his way back to New Orleans.

Masterchef, Aarón Sánchez made New Orleans his new home after opening up Johnny Sanchez. (Courtesy of FOX)

Aside from appearances on the Food Network, Cooking Channel, and FOX, Sánchez won the James Beard award for Television Studio Program in 2014. He has since launched the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, which gives back to aspiring chefs within the Latino community (applicants are required to be residents of New Orleans). He has authored two books, and is a partner at Daredevil Tattoo in New York City – he’s a man of many talents.

Sánchez opened Johnny Sánchez alongside John Besh in New Orleans’ Central Business District in 2014. (Besh left the restaurant partnership in 2019). One of many natives contributing to making New Orleans a great city, we are highlighting his work in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, and learning just why he loves New Orleans so much.

20 Questions with Aarón Sánchez

  1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?

Paul Prudhomme.

  1. What first brought you to New Orleans?

My Mom and Grandmother brought me down to work with Chef Paul.

  1. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?

The Garden District is my favorite.

  1. If it’s a beautiful day, where are you going to spend it?

If it’s a weekend, I will probably be going to the farmers market on Carondelet Street in the CBD, getting fresh produce, and cooking dinner for my loved ones, friends, and family. I also love to take an afternoon stroll in the lower Garden District.

  1. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans.

That’s a hard one, but I’d have to say one of John Besh’s Crawfish Boils because the food, company, and atmosphere all combine to make a perfect meal.

  1. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?

Willa Jean, their brunch menu is dynamite.

Mahony’s on Magazine Street (Photo: Paul Broussard)
  1. What’s your favorite type of po-boy? Where do you get it?

Mahony’s on Magazine has some pretty awesome po-boys and I usually go for the fried shrimp or oyster.

  1. You’ve got friends visiting, and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?

August, Willie Mae’s, Bon Temps Cafe, Preservation Hall, Louis Armstrong Park, stroll down Magazine Street–there’s so much, but depends on how long they’re in town for.

  1. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?  

Rendezvous, Bouligny Tavern, and Hot Tin at the Pontchartrain Hotel.

Pimm’s Cup at the Napoleon House (Photo: Paul Broussard)
  1. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail, and where do you go to get it?

I love a frozen Pimm’s Cup from the Napoleon House on a hot day.

  1. What’s your favorite dessert or sweet treat in the city?

Gotta say the Cookies + Milk from Willa Jean.

  1. Best spot to see live music?

D.B.A for sure.

  1. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?

Tank and the Bangas.

Voodoo Fest 2016 (Photo: Paul Broussard)
  1. Favorite New Orleans festival?

Either Jazz Fest or Voodoo Fest, they’re so different but both really fun.

  1. What’s your ideal New Orleans date night?

Going to the movies and then Bacchanal to sit outside and listen to live music.

  1. What are your favorite local shops?

I love going to Billy Reid.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (Photo: Rebecca Todd)
  1. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum as well as the WWII Museum.

  1. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?

Either at my restaurant, Johnny Sánchez, or at the Superdome.

  1. Describe New Orleans in one word.


  1. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans, and why?

When I moved down there about two years ago. Knowing that it was going to be my home brought back a new appreciation, love, and curiosity for this amazing city. This is the city I want to live in for the rest of my life.

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