The Untold Truth Of Aarón Sánchez's Taco Trip

If you ever caught an episode of the Cooking Channel series "Taco Trip," you've likely found yourself drooling over the delicious discoveries of chef and television host Aarón Sánchez (via Cooking Channel). According to the Food Network, this Emmy-nominated series' two seasons aired in 2014 and 2015. Sánchez — a popular chef who frequently appears as a judge on the Food Network show "Chopped" — travelled to major cities across the United States as the programs host to sample tacos and other Latin-influenced foods whose flavors are representative of their region, per Inside Hook

"Taco Trip" saw Sánchez visit Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and lots of cities in between, sampling extravagant tortillas filled with a range of proteins that stretched from shrimp ceviche to lamb's head. If you love tacos, you definitely want to check this show out and learn the in's and out's that went into making this series truly special.

Aarón Sánchez got his start in New Orleans

Born in El Paso, Texas, Sánchez is the son of beloved Mexican chef Zarela Martinez, according to El Paso Times. From an early age, he worked in the kitchens of his mother's El Paso catering business and restaurants learning the fundamentals of Mexican cooking. At the age of 16, he traveled to New Orleans to work under famed chef Paul Prudhomme. He continued his culinary career at several restaurants before opening his first eatery, Paladar, in New York in 2000.

According to Cooking Channel, Aarón Sánchez is the chef and partner at Johnny Sánchez, a Mexican-inspired restaurant that Sánchez opened in New Orleans with John Besh. The eatery serves dishes such as rice and bean burritos, meatball tacos, and queso fundido, per Johnny Sánchez. Additionally, Aarón Sánchez has had a varied and long-running career on television (via Food Network). He made his network television debut way back in 2007 when he went head-to-head against Bobby Flay on the latter chef's show "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," per IMDb

You couldn't ask for a more qualified chef to lead viewers on a journey through the world of this iconic meal. According to Broadway World, Sánchez's passion, skills, and love of Latin food (plus the fact that his mother is one of the highest authorities on Mexican cuisine) made the chef a great choice to show off everything a taco has to offer and helped him land the role of host.

"Taco Trip" was meant to showcase the Latin American parts of cities

Chef Sánchez's series "Taco Trip" hit the airwaves back in 2014, premiering on December 16 of that year reports Eater. The idea for the show was for Sánchez to explore the Latin American side of U.S. cities, visiting metropolises including Denver, San Diego, and Las Vegas, and talking to the chefs and their loved ones about whipping up their signature cuisine.

During each 30-minute episode, Sánchez visits with local chefs and food personalities, chowing down mostly on tacos, but occasionally on other foods such as poutine-style nachos. In San Diego, the chef tucked into lamb head barbacoa; in Baltimore, soft shell crab tacos; and in Portland, Maine, a Sonoran-style hot dog wrapped in bacon, to name just a few (via Cooking Channel). The show "celebrates people and their stories and their creativity," the chef told the San Francisco Examiner in 2015.

Sánchez thinks tacos are the perfect food

Aarón Sánchez is a certified taco expert. The chef told the San Francisco Examiner that this food is ideal to explore in a show because it is playful and endlessly versatile. "The taco is the perfect vehicle to have fun with – it's like a pizza or a pita," Sánchez said.

Over the two seasons of the series, Sánchez chowed down on traditional versions and some off-the-wall varieties of the classic handheld food. In Philadelphia, where the pork-and-cornmeal fry-up known as scrapple is a beloved breakfast item, the host ate scrapple tacos; in Nashville, he enjoyed the meal filled with sweet potatoes and deep-fried avocado; and in Austin, one of Texas's most important BBQ cities, he tucked into tortillas stuffed with mesquite-smoked brisket (via Cooking Channel). With flavors like that, it just makes sense why Sánchez loves this versatile food.

Sánchez's favorite parts of "Taco Trip"

In his travels all over the United States in search of the best tacos, chef Sánchez has had the privilege of observing — and tasting — the many regional differences between styles of Latin American food across the country. In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Sánchez commented on some of the variations he's noted in his travels. "In New York City, the majority of Mexican nationals are from Puebla, so you see chiles en nogada and mole poblano," he told the paper. "In Texas, there's all that fresh corn."

He also told the paper about some standout spots he discovered in the course of filming the series. In San Francisco, he enjoyed "the fun, colorful spectrum in the California Mission-style burritos," and in Chicago, at Carnitas Uruapan, he chowed down on some carnitas tacos that basically blew his mind. "It made me realize how crappy my own are," he said.

Sánchez's favorite ways to prepare tacos

If you want to make some tacos at home, you can follow Sánchez's top tips for this homemade treat, which he shared with Food & Wine. First, Sánchez specified that you'll want to start with the right size of tortilla. Tacos, he said, should be eaten in no more than two bites; for that reason, you'll want to buy four-inch tortillas. Don't forget to heat the tortilla on a griddle or pan, which will make it soft and pliable, all the better to wrap around your filling.

For garnishes, Sánchez recommends using both cilantro leaves and its stems, which he noted to have a ton of flavor. He likes chopped white onion, as opposed to red or Spanish onion. The chef also recommends adding a pickled vegetable to help cut through the richness of the meat. You can use almost any protein except for ground beef, which Sánchez declares to be no good. "That's no bueno," the chef said of this none-too-authentic option.