With almost a literal lifetime of experience in the kitchen, it was no surprise that Aarón Sanchez became a prominent figure in the world of celebrity chefs. Born in El Paso, Texas, Sanchez's mother Zarela Martinez was a successful chef herself, teaching her son about the traditions of Mexican cooking when he was old enough to hold a wooden spoon. By the time he was eight, their family was relocating to New York so his mother could open the popular Café Marimba, where he began helping in the kitchen before he was even a teenager. At 16, Sanchez's mother arranged the opportunity for him to spend the summer in New Orleans where he could work with celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme. He would return to work with Prudhomme for two years again after graduating from high school before returning to New York to study at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. He eventually opened Erizo Latino with Alex Garcia in 1996 before running the Award winning pan-Latin restaurant Paladar on New York's Lower East Side from 2001 to 2010. Sanchez became a judge on the hugely popular series "Chopped" (Food Network, 2007-) in 2009, and became a regular presence on food-centric reality shows throughout the 2010s, notably co-hosting the travel food series "Heat Seekers" (Food Network, 2011-12) and "Taco Trip" (Cooking Channel, 2014-15). In 2014, Sanchez opened the taqueria Johnny Sanchez in Baltimore, Maryland.