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Food and Wine With Chef Aarón Sánchez

Go ahead and call chef Aarón Sánchez a momma's boy. That’s perfectly fine by him. As a matter of fact, he takes pride in being one and attributes his success to his mother, Zarela Martinez. Born in 1976 in El Paso, Texas, Aarón (who has a twin brother named Rodrigo) began cooking at an early age to help his mother with her catering business specializing in Mexican fare. In 1984, the family moved to New York where Zarela opened Café Marimba and Aarón began cooking in a professional kitchen. This lead to culinary school and several chef positions in restaurants throughout New York, Baltimore and New Orleans since about 1997.

I had the pleasure of interviewing chef during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival just before his live demonstration. His intoxicating humor and gentle demeanor is evident as he raises a glass of wine to a toast to all things life has blessed him with. Aarón is the executive chef and part owner of Mexican eatery Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans. He is also a judge on Fox’s hit culinary competition series MasterChef and has co-starred on Food Network’s Chopped and Chopped Junior. He is the host of the Cooking Channel's Emmy nominated Taco Trip and ended in a draw against chef Nasahuru Morimoto in Season Two of Iron Chef America. Add author of two cookbooks to this impressive resume plus philanthropy having launched the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund benefiting aspiring chefs from the Latin community to follow their dreams and attend culinary school. Phew!

As we chatted about all things food and drink, Aarón informed me about his partnership with Terrazas de los Andes wines. Aarón became the Terrazas de los Andes Brand Ambassador in 2016. His celebration of Latin American lifestyle and culinary culture mirror the passion for food, wine and the Argentine lifestyle of the Terrazas brand. Of course, I asked if he actually liked the wine before becoming an ambassador and his response was to hand me a glass of Terrazas Chardonnay. I was hooked!

In their partnership, Terrazas de los Andes and Aarón bring the same values, passion and ambition to the table. They strive to aim higher with a passion to venture further and ambitiously introduce the high altitude wines from Terrazas de los Andes to food and wine enthusiasts all over the world. Terrazas de los Andes wines are produced with hand-harvested grapes from select high-altitude vineyards located in the province of Mendoza and in Salta for the Torrontés. The vineyards are located in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley in the western central part of Argentina. I can personally tell you that the Terrazas Chardonnay deliciously excellent. I have since also tried the Malbec and enjoyed it immensely.

So grab yourself any of Aarón cookbooks or enjoy the recipe below from his live demonstration at this year’s SOBEWFF and pair it with a Terrazas de los Andes wine. You can thank me and Aarón later.

Grilled Lobster with Yucatan-Style Recado (Spice Rub)

Recipe by Chef Aarón Sánchez for Terrazas de los Andes

Pair with Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Chardonnay

(Serves 2)

½ habanero chile (seeded and deveined)

1 garlic clove

½ cup sour orange juice

¼ cup lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon whole coriander seed

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 (1¼-pound) lobster

Lemon wedges, for garnish

  1. Blend the first 6 ingredients in a blender until smooth and set aside.

  2. In a cast iron skillet, toast the peppercorns, cumin, fennel seed, coriander seed, and mustard seed. When the spices begin to smoke, remove, and grind in a coffee mill. When pulverized, add to the pureed habanero mixture.

  3. Preheat a grill on medium high heat.

  4. Split the lobster in half, remove the roe if necessary, and then spread the spice, or recado, mixture over the tail portion of each side of lobster.

  5. Place lobster halves on a hot grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove and serve with lemon wedges.

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