House of Blues chef serves up some answers


By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Food Network’s Aaron Sanchez has poetry and holiday dinner on his mind, along with a desire to open a restaurant in San Diego. Pacific Magazine caught up with the handsome Latin chef during a visit to House of Blues, for which he serves as a menu consultant nationwide, and discovered his latest top-selling dishes as well as a few tricks for jazzing up the roast.

Between hosting Heat Seekers and serving as a judge on Chopped, the New York-based trailblazer is underway with yet a new show, this time for the Latin Channel for Fox. He’s also begun penning prose for another cookbook, a more personalized follow-up to last year’s release of Simple Food, Big Flavor (Simon & Schuster). Oh, and for fans who keep pegging his as an eligible bachelor, we’re sorry to burst the fantasy. He’s married to musician-model Ife Mora, and with a baby boy to boot.

Pacific Magazine: For Christmas dinner, will it be turkey or ham?

Aaron Sanchez: It’s actually goose on occasion, but mostly prime rib with Yorkshire pudding. My mom relegates me to the veggies and side dishes. She’s the queen bee, so she makes the bigger stuff.

PM: Do you insist on any twists for the roasts?

AS: Yes, I always like putting yucca and Caribbean yams under the meat, so that all the fat cooks through to the veggies.

PM: What are your favorite flavor boosters for meals in general?

AS: I love acidic, tart and bitter things and regular old canned chipotles, which I make into a paste with lime zest, garlic and cilantro. Tamarind is also one of my favorite flavors to put into foods because it’s bitter and tropical.

PM: What are some of the latest menu revisions you’ve made at House of Blues?

AS: The flatbreads. We make the dough in-house and use ingredients like cotija cheese, roasted tomatoes and pesto with pumpkin seeds to top them. The seafood street tacos with lime crema are also big. We use wonderful, local produce in them. Your chefs are so spoiled out here.

PM: Have you considered opening a restaurant in San Diego?

AS: I would love to. San Diego is one of those towns that is cosmopolitan and still small enough where everything feels intimate. I own a restaurant in Kansas City (Mestizo) and one in New York (Centrico). If I could make it happen here, I will.

PM: You’re working on a new cookbook?

AS: Yes. One of things I love doing is writing poems, and now I’m starting to collect enough to publish. People think chefs are all one notes, that all we do is cook. This book will feature recipes, but with poetry below them.

PM: Name three people, living or dead, that you would love to cook for.

AS: Bob Marley; the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and my grandfather from my mom’s side, who I never met.

Crossroads at House of Blues is a new dining experience featuring a menu created by celebrity chef, Aaron Sanchez. Star of many Food Network hit shows, Aaron and House of Blues welcomes guests to enjoy comfort food that is bold and classic yet contemporary. The menu features new recipes of House of Blues favorites like jambalaya, signature burger, and salads as well as new items such as shrimp and grits and fire-grilled flat breads. Crossroads at House of Blues is truly the place where food, music and art intersect.