24 Hours in the Life of Chef Aarón Sánchez
Sánchez takes us behind the scenes as flies from Los Angeles to Miami for a live, on-stage cooking demo.
You know Aarón Sánchez’s life is a whirlwind. The chef and TV personality owns a popular New Orleans restaurant, Johnny Sánchez, and stars as a host on MasterChef. Somehow, in his limited spare time, Sánchez also manages to write cookbooks and run a scholarship fund. But thankfully, Sánchez wasn’t too busy to give Food & Wine an in-depth look at a day in his life—one that started at 3 a.m. and didn’t end until well past our bedtimes.
3:49 a.m.: I wake up with my girlfriend and her little Yorkie dog in my temporary house in Los Angeles.
4:02 a.m.: I start to gather all my stuff, including my small overnight bag, headphones, phone, sunglasses, and a baseball cap.
4:15 a.m.: I get picked up by my car service and head to the airport. On the drive, I am listening to the Alabama Shakes.
5:11 a.m.: I arrive at LAX [Los Angeles International Airport] and proceed to go through security with my very few belongings—which makes it go a lot faster.
5:33 a.m.: Now that I am through security, I find a small shop to get an iced coffee. I just like milk—no sugar. But I only drink half so that I can sleep on the flight. I know I have a long day ahead of me and need some more rest.
5:45 a.m.: I board my plane and get settled in. I’m listening to a blues station to stay relaxed so I can go to sleep.
6:05 a.m.: We take off and I fall asleep immediately. I have my MasterChef hoodie with me, which is so comfy, and I put the hood on to get extra cozy.
1:49 p.m.: We’ve switched to Eastern time. I wake up and we are about to land. I open my window to see the beautiful skyline of Miami and start to feel excited. From the air, I can see the massive white tents for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, held on the beach.
2:05 p.m.: I land and go downstairs to baggage claim to find a nice gentleman—my driver—waiting with a sign with my name written on it.
2:35 p.m.: I arrive at the Loews hotel and, almost immediately, I start running into friends and fans. The festival weekend has officially started for me.
3:00 p.m.: I have checked into my room and met up with my manager, Andrew, who has my credentials. I take off my hoodie and change into my Mexi-CAN shirt, which I designed with Flavour Gallery—all proceeds go to my scholarship foundation, The Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund. I put my lanyard on and head down into the event’s grand tasting.
3:05 p.m.: When I walk into the grand tasting area, I start seeing a bunch of my industry buddies—Marcus Samuelsson, Marc Murphy, and Ted Allen are the first group I run into. We joke around and catch up for about 10 minutes, and take a couple pictures. I realize I have to go, so I let them know I’ll see them later.
3:30 p.m.: I meet up with a writer from Miami Eater to chat about my trip to Mendoza, Argentina with Terrazas de Los Andes winery and the dish I will be making on stage during my demo at 4:15 p.m. It’s a Yucatan-style lobster that is paired with their chardonnay.
3:50 p.m.: I walk backstage with Andrew and get mic’d up, then I run into Emeril Lagasse. I also see the board of the demo lineup for today and tomorrow—a list of people I’ve known for years, whom I love and admire. On the list, I see “Mooking,” “Zakarian,” “Murphy,” and “Emeril,” and then, of course, I see myself. Tomorrow is “Guarnaschelli,” “Flay,” “Andrés.”
4:05 p.m.: I check out my mise en placed ingredients with my sous chef, James, who has been making sure everything is all set. I look over the recipe once more and hit the stage.
4:15 p.m.: “I start telling jokes and running through the lobster recipe. I see one woman in the crowd who looks captivated and has an empty wine glass, so I walk to the edge of the stage and lean over to fill up her glass with the Chardonnay. Of course, that’s a hit—and now everyone else in the front row is raising their glasses for a splash of white vino.
4:45 p.m.: I’ve finished the recipe and answer some questions from the crowd until the end of the demo. I head over to the book signing station where I will greet fans and personalize the copies of my Simple Food, Big Flavor they have purchased from the festival’s bookshop.
5:35 p.m.: My time signing books and autographs and taking pictures with fans is over for now, and they are starting to close up the shop because I was the last signing of the day.
5:40 p.m.: I head to my hotel room to change quickly before going to the Delano Hotel for a dinner with Terrazas. I’m their chef ambassador, which is why I went to Argentina to tour the winery and do some recipe development on-site. At dinner, we talk about the brand’s Malbecs—both Reserva and Single Vineyard, which I really love, so this is easy for me.
7:35 p.m.: We wrap up the chat and I go back to my hotel room to change and get ready to go to dinner. It’s the only party I will get to attend because I have to leave tomorrow.
8 p.m.: Our team meets back up in the Loews' lobby and we go get some drinks in the bar and a couple light bites. We walk around and see some friends, so we continue to have more drinks. Then we all head over to the SLS.
10 p.m.: We are rocking and rolling and seeing all sorts of friends, and then we head into José Andres’ after party. I take a bunch of pictures with fans and friends, and then we dance a little until I decide it’s probably time to go home.
11:30 p.m.: I head back to my hotel to rest up because tomorrow is another packed day.