This interview with Aaron Sanchez was conducted by Tulane student, Remy Addonizio as a part of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum’s New Orleans con Sabor Latino exhibit. This exhibit was the result of a joint effort by Tulane University, SoFaB, and community partners.
In Dr. Sarah Fouts’ interdisciplinary seminar, Food, Migration, & Culture, Tulane students worked with Latino members of the New Orleans food industry to create a series of oral histories exploring the role of Latin culture in our city’s restaurant scene. With stories ranging from famous restauranteurs to line cooks, New Orleans con Sabor Latino demonstrates the diversity of experience within this community, as well as their vital contributions to the Big Easy.
|Read a full transcript of the oral history below|
Aaron Sanchez has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped and Iron Chef America, among other cooking shows. Along with John Besh, he owns Johnny Sánchez, a taqueria with one location in Baltimore and the other here in the CBD. Here is what Aaron Sanchez had to say:
“I’m just smitten with the city and New Orleans just needed good Mexican food. We felt like it was one of the, one of the cuisines that was missing desperately here and what better person to do it than myself and then have that coupled with John’s unbelievable commitment to this city and this community and him helping me with an infrastructure of this company. It just made sense. Culture and food relating to one another so intimately was something that that I really related to and then the idea of the mentoring and the traditions that are being used here every day was something that was very appealing to me. And the thing that’s most interesting and why I wanted to open a restaurant in New Orleans is ‘cause I truly believe that this is the best food city in the country.
I have my high standards. I’m representing not only myself and my family, but I’m representing this cuisine that’s so rich and proud and a culture that’s so rich and proud so I needed to do everything possible to make sure that we are paid homage and do it the right way.
That’s what we hope. What I hope people hear is they gain trust, they see iconic Mexican dishes, whether it’s the queso fondito, enchiladas, or mole, or, you know, fajitas, or whatever. Let them feel comfortable with that, with those kind of more symbolic dishes that are familiar and then allow me and our team here to kind of take them on a little journey to maybe some more obscure dishes and obscure regions of Mexico. That’s kind of what we hope.
I love all of our tacos, obviously. Our cauliflower taco is just great, little bit of roasted corn, love that. I love…or even our carne asada taco, which is super straightforward. But you have a nice local marinade-Mexican oregano, garlic, lime juice, and tons of black pepper. And then I have a mesquite grill back there that we cook with just pure wood. And that flavor of just the mesquite and that marinade kinda interacting, it’s just, just unbelievable.”
Special thanks to the Tulane University Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, and the Tulane University Center for Public Service for their assistance and support of this project.