Aarón sánchez’s favorite cookbooks



It’s easy to spot Aarón Sánchez these days—with the celebrity chef appearing on television, in the kitchens of restaurants in New Orleans and New York, as well as on bookshelves.

The MasterChef judge’s first memoir, Where I Come From: Life Lessons From a Latino Chef, was released on Oct. 1, and details how he came to be so ubiquitous. There are 11 recipes included “that really illuminate the times in my life that made a big difference,” he says. “I want people to understand that my particular interests and likes are diverse.”

Gabrielle Geiselman
Gabrielle Geiselman

Sánchez, 43, opened his first restaurant, Paladar, in 1999 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He’s also the owner and chef at Johnny Sánchez, a Mexican restaurant in New Orleans.

He prefers to stick to traditional cultural dishes, adding his own contemporary techniques. And when he turns to other chefs for inspiration, he looks for cookbooks with a personal touch, too. Here are some of his favorites.

1. Whole Hog BBQ by Sam Jones

“I really love Sam Jones, the great barbecue master from North Carolina. The idea is sometimes people feel intimidated about cooking the whole hog, and I think Sam does a really good job of making it very straightforward—really sort of insightful and easy to do. The idea of smoking hogs and getting all the best parts of it I think is really amazing.”

Whole Hog BBQ by Sam Jones
Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee

2. Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee

“This book is really his journey of meeting folks in the Appalachian Mountains, cooking food, and having really good stories. While the stories have recipes behind them, it’s more about the experience.”

3. Genuine Pizza by Michael Schwartz

“Michael Schwartz did this unbelievable book that talks about pizza and demystifies how hard it is to make pizza. He’s doing a really good job of making pizzas in a way that is very accessible to families, and I really love what he’s doing—talking about pizza doughs, how to do the step-by-step, then building pies based on what you love.”

Genuine Pizzaby Michael Schwartz
The Power of Sprinkles by Amirah Kassem

4. The Power of Sprinkles by Amirah Kassem

“Amirah is actually from my hometown of El Paso, Texas. She’s really cool, and she’s put a lot of fun into making cakes. Kind of what [Milk Bar founder] Christina Tosi has done—doing a lot of fun, new innovative stuff that’s playful. Serious, but also super fun. So I’m really in love with The Power of Sprinkles.”

5. Aloha Kitchen by Alana Kysar

“I do a lot of events in Maui and Oahu—I’m just a big fan of the islands. This book encompasses the traditional stuff but also brings to life a lot of the things ... that might seem a little bit foreign to people. This book does a good job of demystifying all of that and making these Hawaiian recipes really sing. You don’t have to be on the islands to cook that food.”

Aloha Kitchen by Alana Kysar

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