Q&A With Chef Aaron Sanchez

The celebrity chef talks chipotle, Mexican limes and more

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You could say becoming a chef was in Aarón Sánchez's blood. The son of Mexican restaurateur and cookbook author Zarela Martinez, he's made a name for himself as chef and a judge on Chopped and the star of the Spanish-language series 3 Minutos con Aarón. Over the last four months, the Brooklyn-based chef has opened Latin-inspired restaurant Paloma in Stamford, Connecticut, and two locations of taqueria Johnny Sánchez in Baltimore and New Orleans—a partnership with his friend and fellow celeb chef John Besh. Still to come? Alegre, a Mexican spot on New York's Lower East Side.

Favorite ingredient to cook with and why: Chipotle. It's accessible, extremely versatile and adds great heat and a wonderful smoky flavor.

One rule you learned in cooking school that every home cook should know: Always include the bones when you're making stock—it adds flavor and gives the stock better color and body.

One rule you learned in cooking school that every home cook should ignore: How to make aspic. It's antiquated.

Kitchen tool you can't live without: Japanese mandolin. One of my favorite ways to use it is to transform vegetables to make slaws.

Secret weapon: Mexican limes. They have a more intense flavor and juice than regular limes.

Ingredient you turn to again and again: I always use achiote paste, a blended mix of achiote, garlic, cumin, oregano, olive oil, lime juice and orange juice that's especially good on pork and chicken. And I love cooking with Cacique chorizo; my favorite version is the pork.

Favorite dish to cook at home: Roasted chicken with lemon, garlic and thyme.

Perfect day of eating in your city: I'd start the day with an omelet from Balthazar. For lunch, I'd head to Barbuto and order chef Jonathan Waxman's signature chicken. Dinner would be pasta from Babbo, followed by the warm chocolate cake at Jean-Georges. I'd end the night with a Sazerac from Pegu Club.