Food Network junkies are already aware of Aaron Sanchez’s culinary style via the two television series he co-stars in, “Chopped” and “Heat Seekers.” They’ve also gotten to see him hit the road on FOX Utilisima’s travel-food show, “MOTOCHEFS.” Then there are Sanchez’s renowned restaurants: Mestizo in Leawood, Kan.; Tacombi Tacqueria in New York City and Crossroads at House of Blues nationwide. So might one find ingredients for new dishes in his carry-on? Well, maybe, if crickets, worms and rattlesnake tails count.
What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
My omamori — my Gohonzon Buddhist mandala that I chant to.
Carry-on or check-in?
Always carry-on, just in case I can catch an early flight or something comes up last minute.
Window or aisle?
Do you bring food with you on plane?
Usually dried fruit. Dried mango is my favorite.
What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
A beach with my son, where we can get lots of sleep, walk around and visit museums. A place that's not too hot, with great wine and even better food.
Tell us about a vacation you’ve taken that’s come close to perfection.
I went to the Yucatan in Mexico with my uncle where we ate, drank and met some awesome Mexican chefs. We also relaxed a lot and went swimming in my favorite cenote.
What’s the worst vacation you’ve taken?
When I was younger I went to Italy. The entire time, mosquitoes attacked me, and the air-conditioning unit broke at the beginning of the trip. Not fun at all.
Where’s your favorite destination for practicing your profession?
I love New Orleans. It’s a great food city, the people are awesome and everyone knows how to have a good time. Also, one of my best friends, Chef John Besh, is there, so when I visit, we get to work together and collaborate on meals.
What's the most unusual souvenir you’ve ever brought back?
Crickets and worms. And once I brought liquor from Mexico that had a rattlesnake tail in it.
Ever try a food that you wished you hadn't?
I had durian, found in Southeast Asia. It’s a stinky fruit with a bad funk and weird texture. Won’t be trying that again.
Favorite resort you've ever stayed in?
I love the Mandarin Oriental, Miami — great service and away from the craziness of South Beach. It’s a great place to relax and unwind.
Favorite restaurant you’ve discovered while traveling?
Pangea in Monterrey, Mexico; Chef Guillermo González is awesome.
Biggest regret you've had while on vacation.
I was hunting in Alabama with a group of friends and ended up being left out in the rain for a really long time. It wasn’t the highlight of the trip.
The one thing you're willing to splurge on above all else?
Great trips and vacations.
Three artists on your travel playlist?
Amos Lee, Lenny Kravitz and Draco Rosa.
Where would you take someone visiting your hometown for the first time?
I’d take them to Chopes Bar & Cafe to eat gorditas in my hometown of El Paso, Texas.
You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
Europe — I’d spend a month eating my way through each country.