Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez cooking up a Myrtle Beach visit

For Weekly SurgeOctober 9, 2013 

Chef Aaron Sanchez is a busy guy as he co-stars in popular Food Network shows, runs a restaurant, develops menus for the House of Blues and criss-crosses the country giving talks, doing cooking demonstrations and promoting his cookbooks, and soon he is coming to Myrtle Beach for a meet-and-greet and to cook a special meal.

Sanchez, who was born in El Paso, Texas, is the son of Mexican cooking authority Zarela Martinez. He has cooked at the White House and enjoys preparing meals with his 2-year-old son, Yuma.

Chef Sanchez stars in “Chopped” and “Heat Seekers” and is known for creating classic Mexican dishes as well as innovating with traditional Mexican ingredients. He has his own restaurant called Mestizo in Kansas City, and he helped develop menus nationwide for Crossroads at House of Blues and at Tacombi Tacquiria in New York City.

One of his coolest new projects is a Spanish language show called Motochefs where he and Chef Aquiles Chaves ride their motorcycles to places with vibrant Latin dining scenes.

Chef Sanchez is visiting North Myrtle Beach on Oct. 21 and will prepare a special meal at the House of Blues with proceeds benefitting Taste of the Town. Tickets are $200 each, and the price includes an admission ticket to Taste of the Town.

Taste of the Town, a fund-raiser for St. Andrew Catholic School in Myrtle Beach, is from 4-10 p.m. on Oct. 22 at the Myrtle Beach Area Convention Center at 2101 N. Oak St. Admission tickets are $5 in advance or $6 at the door, and children ages 14 and younger are admitted free. Food tickets are $1 each, and food samples from dozens of area restaurants cost 1-4 tickets. Admission tickets can be purchased in advance at www.totmb.com.

The live cooking demonstration at Taste of the Town with Sanchez is scheduled for 7-7:30 p.m. After the demo he will sign copies of his cookbook, “Simple Food, Big Flavor,” which is available for purchase in The Company Store at House of Blues at 4640 U.S. 17 S., Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach.

Taste Before Tuesday, the $200 per plate VIP meal Chef Sanchez is preparing starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, has a limited number of tickets that are available via www.houseofblues.com.

The chef answered a few questions for Weekly Surge via e-mail:

QUESTION | We have a thriving culinary school in Myrtle Beach. What advice would you give to a student who has aspirations of becoming a media star?

ANSWER | I would tell them not to get into this line of work to be a media star. You should go to culinary school and cook because you have a passion for it, because you enjoy the work. My advice to culinary students is to work with a variety of chefs at different restaurants. By doing this, you’ll find mentors who will help you along the way.

What advice would you give to an older chef who may need encouragement to break out of a rut and take his expertise to a new level?

It can be difficult to get out of your comfort zone, so I would encourage older chefs to work in another kitchen, so you can learn different techniques and experience different foods and flavors. Another great way to do this is to travel, experiencing a different culture and seeing how locals eat can open your eyes to all the different possibilities.

This area was known for producing more rice than anywhere in the world before the Civil War. What common roots do you see between Arroz Mexicano and the traditional way rice is prepared [in Pilau and Chicken Bog] in Coastal South Carolina?

This recipe is similar to Arroz con Pollo. The cooking method allows the meat to really season the rice and it provides fat so that you can cook the rice nice and slow.

What similarities/differences do you see between barbacoa and South Carolina barbecue?

They are both slow cooked and have a vinegar/acidity component. The cooking methods are different, S.C. barbecue is cooked with wood and barbacoa isn’t smoked.

Your Molten Mexican Chocolate Cake has mescal in it – what does that do to the flavor of the dessert?

This is one of my favorite desserts. The mescal gives the cake a great smokiness that enhances the flavor of the chocolate.

You are on the road cooking across the country – do you have favorite utensils/tools you take with you wherever you go?

The top three things I take with me are: my knives, salt and dried chiles.

What kitchen tools (besides your hands) would you recommend no chef be without? How about home cooks – Is the answer different for them?

I don’t think anyone, professional chef or home cook, should be without a Japanese Mandoline.

What five Hispanic food ingredients are always in your home kitchen?

Chipotles en adobo, Mexican oregano, dulce de leche, chorizo and Cacique’s Queso Fresco.

Do you think “Motochefs” might come to Myrtle Beach?

Motochefs primarily focuses on Latin America, but maybe someday.

Does your son, Yuma, cook with you and enjoy it?

Yes, he likes to pick herbs - he’s a great helper! His favorite dish of mine is my mac and cheese.

Taste Before Tuesday menu followed by two of the chef’s recipes.

Taste Before Tuesday with Chef Aaron Sanchez and Master Sommelier Michael Jordan

First Course

Snapper Ceviche, Passion Fruit

Vintner’s Reserve Riesling 2011

Second & Third Courses

Shrimp and Grits

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2011


Lamb Loin, Pomegranate Tamarind, Pureed Parsnips

Vintner’s Reserve Syrah 2011


Molten Mexican Chocolate Cake

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel 2011


Roasted Lamb with Pomegranate-Tamarind Sauce

From “Simple Food, Big Flavor,” by Aaron Sanchez

Serves 4

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup pomegranate juice (such as Pom brand)

1 ¼ cups chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought is fine)

¼ cup Tamarind-Pasilla Paste (recipe follows)

One 1 ½- to 2-pound boneless lamb loin

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh pomegranate seeds

Combine the sugar, juice, stock and Tamarind-Pasilla Paste in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat so the mixture simmers. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has thickened and reduced to a little less than 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Turn the heat to very low and keep the sauce warm while you cook the lamb.

While the sauce is cooking, heat a large ovenproof skillet over the medium-high heat. Drizzle the lamb with the olive oil, season generously with salt, and place in the pan. Cook on each side for 5 minutes, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest for 3 minutes. Cut the lamb crosswise into ½-inch thick slices.

Put the slices on plates and spoon on the sauce. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve right away.

Tamarind-Pasilla Paste

From “Simple Food, Big Flavor,” by Aaron Sanchez

Makes 3 cups

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, and deveined

1 large white onion, quartered

10 whole garlic cloves, peeled

4 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ cups strained tamarind pulp

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Line a plate with paper towels.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to dance. Add the pasillas and fry on both sides until they’re puffed up, about 15 seconds total. Transfer the chiles to the paper towels to drain. Put them in a small bowl, pour in the boiling water, and let them soak until they’re soft, about 15 minutes. Drain the chiles and reserve them and the soaking liquid separately.

Discard the oil and wipe the skillet clean. Set it back over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, toss the onion, garlic, and tomatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss gently, and put them in the hot skillet. Cook about 7 minutes on each side, until they’re charred, with visible black spots. Transfer the vegetables to a clean bowl and let them cool to room temperature.

Put the tamarind pulp, chiles, ½ cup of the soaking liquid, and the roasted vegetables in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.

Becky Billingsley serves daily restaurant news at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.

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