Chef Aarón Sánchez Sets The Record Straight About Mexican Food - Exclusive

Chef Aarón Sánchez carries on a long tradition of bringing Mexican food to a wider audience. Sánchez has won a James Beard Award for Television Studio Program and was recognized by the Hispanic Federation with the Premio Orgullo Award for being a leader in the Hispanic community, per his website. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, when asked if there are any myths about Mexican food, the chef and owner of Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans didn't mince words. "You got about three hours?" Sánchez joked but proceeded to break down what people get wrong about Mexican food.

"People need to understand that Tex Mex is one thing — Mexican food's another," he said. "Mexican food is extremely complex, it's regional, just like any other culinary superpower." He compared the regional dishes and flavors in Mexico to Italy, where cuisine shifts from Tuscany to Calabria. "We have the Spanish influence that came in 1519 to Mexico to marry with the Mesoamerican diet, which is corn chili, squash beans, cacao, corn, obviously," Sánchez explained. "I just think people need to understand the complexity of the food and how far it goes back."

Aarón Sánchez schooled Gordon Ramsay about Mexican food

Aarón Sánchez, judge on "MasterChef: Legends," isn't shy about his admiration for executive producer and co-host, Gordon Ramsay. However, he does stand his ground when it comes to a friendly rivalry about world cuisine. "I always give a lot of grief to Gordon because he's always like, 'French and European cuisine's, like, the bomb.' I'm like, 'Okay dude, you guys were living in caves, bro, when indigenous people were making mole, 2000 years ago," Sánchez joked. 

Although the British chef never went to traditional culinary school  — Insider reported that Ramsay studied hospitality management instead — French cooking is often held in esteem in the culinary world. Eater reports that culinary schools are often missing the big picture of what people want to eat by focusing solely on French food and techniques. It's safe to say, chef Sánchez would agree.

Aarón Sánchez shares the biggest mistakes people make with Mexican food

Sánchez said you should know what you're looking for when ordering Mexican food. Thinking about how food travels is a necessity. "If you're ordering something to-go, for instance, think about tortillas getting soggy, think about guacamole not being fresh, think about your salsa's being bright, having enough garnishes, and tortillas to order," Sánchez advised. Preparing for the details "make a big difference," according to the chef. 

"If you're adventurous, try to [buy] your meats marinated but not cooked," Sánchez recommended. You then want to cook the meats yourself for the freshest option. Want to have a few people over to share in your new grilling skills? Sánchez said there's "nothing wrong with making your own taco party, you know what I mean, [and] getting a bunch of different fixings." If you're not in the cooking mood, Sánchez's own taco kits are solid on and can be sent right to you.

The chef also said not all Mexican dishes need to have cumin. "I think cumin is overused in so many dishes," he said. "I live with my uncle, and I actually hide the cumin from him because he tends to overuse it." In contrast to other culinary traditions, in Mexico, cumin is typically only used for seasoning beans. So choose your spices carefully.

To get more insight from chef Aarón Sánchez, tune into the new season of "MasterChef: Legends," Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX. This season welcomes a variety of culinary all-star guests, including Emeril Lagasse, Paula Deen, Roy Choi, Nancy Silverton, Iron Chef Morimoto, and more.