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Lunch with Chef Aaron Sanchez

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to meet one of the few Latino chefs that works on The Food Network, Chef Aaron Sanchez. He was in Chicago with Sierra Mist to talk about their relationship and share some awesome recipes that he had put together that included this drink. 
Traveling Latina and Chef Aaron Sanchez
I had such a great conversation with him that I just have to share it with you all in its entirety. It is so great to talk to Latino chefs and get their perspective on food, culture and travel. Love learning how they have achieved their passion and continue on staying thirsty. Below is a brief snippet of my fabulous convo and lunch with Chef Aaron Sanchez:

Q: I see that you are working now with Sierra Mist, tell me more about your relationship with the brand 

AS: For me Sierra Mist is a wonderful partner because they hold all the things important to them as I do, which is family and community. [Before working with me] they really wanted to tap into somebody that was recognizable in the Latin community and also had a family tie. So we came up with a campaign about eating together “comer juntos" and using Sierra Mist Natural as the common bond between all of us. 

Slow Roasted Chipotle Chicken
with Sierra Mist
Q: How did you come up with these recipes for Sierra Mist?

AS: It’s a wonderful product, and as far as soda’s goes, it is changing the ballgame because of the products that go into it. The lemon and the lime [drink], as we know, is a very popular space but they changed it by using 100% real sugar and you can cook with this stuff! And the acidity is probably the most important element in food. Acidity opens up your palatte and allows you to sort of take on flavors. And the lemon lime flavors in Sierra Mist Natural is unmistakenly that, it has the acidity that is so important

Q: So the chicken that I am eating right now, was cooked in Sierra Mist?

AS: Yes, and the way it was prepared it was very simple. You take the chicken and put it in a crock pot. Put in some chipotle, onion, garlic, cumin and the only liquid that you include in the crock pot is Sierra Mist. And as it cooks it releases some of its sugars and the acidity ties it all back together again.
Salad, tacos and empanadas all made by the chef
and include Sierra Mist
Q: I’m a travel blogger and one of the reasons why I love traveling is the food experience. I am curious to know what are some of your favorites food cities in the U.S.?
AS: Well you know that is a hard question because I have traveled a lot and been all over the country. The cities that really resonate with me are Seattle and Portland. That part of the country  I am fond of because they are very close to food source from the oceans and farms. Obviously New Orleans is another city that has great food! It is where I have lived and worked and loved and continue to love! The idea of real creole cooking is still alive there and the people don’t change, which is important for a tradition and hence why it has continued for so long. 

[side note: I completely agree with his New Orleans selection, just read my last post where I brag about its delicious food!]

Q: I see that the majority of your dishes are Mexican inspired. Do you also have other cultural dishes that inspire you?

AS: Yes, absolutely. One of my first books was called "La Comida del Barrio". It really embodied all my love for Latin food. I have been to almost all the Latin countries from Central America, Caribbean to all over South America, that have provided a significant contribution to the food industry. I give and take from those places all the time with my recipes. I am also blessed to have some great friends who allow me to cook with them when I go visit their countries so I’ve learned to cook traditional Latin dishes too. Peru and Spain are two countries I am really infatuated with. The food there is insanely good and the fusion of Japanese, Spanish, Indigenous it is all just really good!

Q: Are there any restaurants you love here in Chicago?

AS: When I come to Chicago I always try to visit my friends that at the Purple Pig, Publican, Avec, and Big Star. But the next time I come to Chicago, I am going to make sure to check out some new ones! The food scene here is incredible!

I loved my meeting with Chef Aaron Sanchez and have to thank the people over at Sierra Mist for this awesome opportunity. Looking forward to continue on seeing the success of this fabulous and young Latino chef and don't forget to watch him on The Food Network and Utilissima!

Miercoles Mudo: Flatbread at Omni Chicago

New Orleans: A Foodie’s Dream City