Yesterday, I went to Centrico, a popular NYC Mexican / Southwestern restaurant. I attended as a guest of Sierra Mist Natural for a “Meet and Greet” with Food Network Chef Aarón Sanchez. In addition to being one of the co-stars of my family’s favorite food show (Chopped) Aarón is also the chef/owner of Centrico Restaurant and he has partnered with Sierra Mist to share family-friendly Latino-inspired meals (in both Spanish and English) as part of their “Eating Together” program.
I really enjoy events featuring chefs. I find them to be very warm and engaging (for the most part). It was a delight to listen to Chef Aarón during the cooking demo as he prepared his recipe for slow roasted chipotle chicken. I thought that the event would just be a demo and tasting, but we ended up being served a full lunch. I love Mexican food, so I was thrilled. Everything was delicious. (I’m actually going to try the chicken recipe that he prepared later this week. It’s pretty simple, yet delicious.)
My favorite dish was the guacamole though! It was so creamy that some of the food writers thought that Aarón had included some crème fraiche, but he didn’t. I’ll tell you his “secrets”. First of all, he uses Mexican avocadoes. (They are only available 8 – 10 months a year, so he stocks up.) He doesn’t use garlic. Rather, he uses the following ingredients in his guacamole: lime juice, salt, cilantro, tomatoes, Mexican oregano, avocadoes and Serrano chiles. (I can’t wait to experiment!)
I had a really great time at the luncheon. I was really impressed by Aarón’s obvious admiration of his grandmother as he reminisced about how she was not in a rush, so her meals had deep, developed flavors. I also appreciated how he shared fond memories of his mentor, Louisiana Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. Aarón credited him with teaching him discipline and how to develop the flavors of food. (I like people who realize the importance of past mentors!)
I like the fact that Chef Aarón is a family man who cooks twice a week at home for his own family. He made me laugh when he mentioned that his home is “anti-soda”. He said that Sierra Mist is the only soda that is allowed in his home, because it has real sugar and 100% natural flavors. In any event, I’m going to try out the chicken recipe. I will let you know how it goes. You can see the video that I took of Chef Aarón Sanchez preparing the chicken below and you can print out the chipotle chicken recipe. In it, he praises chicken thighs, crockpots, Chipotle chili and “delicious and spicy” Salma Hayek Pinault…