You may know Aarón Sánchez from his appearances on “Masterchef” and “Chopped.” Maybe you’ve visited his restaurant, Johnny Sanchez, in New Orleans. But how well do you really know the chef and TV personality?

On this week’s episode of Milk Street Radio, Sánchez reveals it all. From his resolve to never take a shortcut in the kitchen–even if there’s a potential love interest on the line–to celebrating both life and death and his love for our very own radio co-host, Sara Moulton, the chef, author and TV personality doesn’t hold back. Get a close look at our interview from the excerpts below, and listen to his full conversation with Christopher Kimball here.

Advice from his mom that he passes on today
My mom is extremely ambitious and focused on her goals and what she wants to get accomplished. Growing up on a cattle ranch in northern Mexico, the options for stardom were obviously limited, but she always wanted to have her name in lights. She started cultivating her love for food at the ranch, cooking these elaborate meals with my grandmother. When this opportunity to go to New Orleans arose, that's where she started seeing a little bit more of herself valued. She noticed that people were interested in our food and our story. She took that as an opportunity, fearless and relentless in her pursuit of a better life. She knew to get the most influential people in a room and have them remember her name. That's what she would always say to us and that's still the advice I give to young people nowadays who want to get their name out there. Make a shortlist of people that are movers and shakers in the industry, send them some food or invite them over to your house and cook for them. Ingratiate yourself to them.

On celebrating both life and death
I'm very clear in the book (“Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef”) that death is not a somber occasion. It's something to be celebrated. Every time I can, I remember the people that were influential in my life, whether it was my grandmother, chef Paul [Prudhomme], my cousin Louise or my dad. All these people should never fall out of one's consciousness and heart. Going and rediscovering this chapter of my culture in Oaxaca, [Mexico] and understanding that it's ok to have someone go and they'll still be with you and you can hang onto the best parts of them, I thought was something so insightful and very provocative for me at a time when I wasn't necessarily really developed yet as a man.

The one thing he’ll never do again in the kitchen
Anytime I ever really got distracted was because I was chasing a girl. In this case, it was pre-cell phones, pre all of that. You would meet somebody on the street, at a bar and the restaurant and say, “Look, I will meet you here at the same time tomorrow when I get done. And maybe we can carry on getting to know each other better.” I was very excited to see this girl that I met the night or the day prior. I circumvented fixing a sauce or vinegar to go see this girl on time. I wanted to be prompt because I didn't want that opportunity to get away from me. Chef Paul caught me on my BS and made me do it over because he knew the motivation was trying to go see a girl. From that moment on, I never took a shortcut in the kitchen ever again.

On the importance of hard work
For anybody that wants to get into our industry, understand it's not a colorful or glamorous one, to say the least. You're going to be asked to do menial tasks that seem repetitive and redundant. I can say wholeheartedly, there's a reason behind it. Failure is not an option and complaining is not an option.

On his love for Sara Moulton
I hold her in the same esteem as someone like Alice Waters and Nancy Silverton. They are iconic women that changed the way people think and feel about food. Sara is somebody that, since I was young, always brought me into her warmth. Her presence, her humbleness and her unbelievable ability to make things taste delicious has always been a huge source of inspiration.

On the next generation of Latino chefs
I never thought where I am now and all the different things that that I've been very blessed to do was going to be the result of just cooking. My dream always was to have my own restaurant, be the captain of my own ship and cook food that spoke to me. Now my message has changed so exponentially. Now I'm this Latino representative of every cook in the kitchen in America. I can't tell you how many times I go to restaurants or in all my travels somebody from Latino descent comes from the kitchen and says, “Can I get a photograph?”

I'm going to continue to cultivate and plant seeds for the next crop of Latino chefs that want to take what I've done as an example and carry the torch.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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