Aaron Sanchez on MasterChef Season 12 bringing more than redemption to the plate, interview

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Bastianich in the season premiere of MASTERCHEF airing Wed. May 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX
MASTERCHEF: L-R: Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Bastianich in the season premiere of MASTERCHEF airing Wed. May 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX /

As MasterChef Season 12 welcomes returning favorite chefs to the popular culinary competition, this season has been referred to as a road to redemption. While everyone might be back to win, Aaron Sanchez believes that these chefs have more that they are bringing to the plate. During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Chef Sanchez shared his thoughts on how the returning chefs can benefits from this second chance.

Every season of MasterChef raises the bar. What started as home cooks looking to perfect their cooking mastery has become a vehicle to a culinary career. While the three judges, Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, and Joe Bastianich require the contestants to exceed expectations, it is more than just impressive plates time after time. It is the evolution of the chef that seems to garner the most praise.

Given that MasterChef Season 12 features many chefs who used their first opportunity as a steppingstone to a culinary career, Sanchez shared that this second chance does come with a different set of standards. Redemption must be paired with noticeable growth.

Sanchez said that “the idea of redemption or righting the wrong per se,” was met with a higher standard and a more rigorous competition. While he found the concept “fantastic,” he expected that these cooks need to show how they have developed their “understanding of the kitchen.” Beyond the “bar being raised on the challenges,” the cooks need to respond to the critiques and prove that they can shine in this environment.

Adding to the uniqueness of MasterChef environment, Sanchez believes that the experience that the cooks have by spending a “good amount of time” with the judges gives them not only the “confidence” but also the “necessary technique to inspire these amateurs to go and open their own businesses.” Given that Sanchez has been open about the importance of mentoring in his own culinary career, he believes that as a chef he is a teacher. While each challenge is a test, it is more than just a successful plate.

Sanchez said, “there is something that each one of the contestants can take away from us (the judges) with our particular narratives and experiences. Regardless of the particular kind of food or the specific inspiration, the commentary is meant to prepare them.”

Similar to the concepts that are part of his Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, Sanchez encourages everyone “to make a list of five people that they are inspired by and try to engage with those people.” The experience and knowledge from that interaction can be quite meaningful.

While the cooks returning to MasterChef Season 12 hope to raise the trophy at the finale, it is more than just a title that has driven these contestants to return to the culinary competition. From the mentorship to the relationships within the culinary world, MasterChef has proven a desire to pursue a culinary career is fueled by a passion. Luckily, these aspiring chefs have some like Aaron Sanchez willing to shed light on how to forge a pathing into that fulfilling career.

MasterChef Season 12: Back to Win airs on FOX Wednesday nights at 8 p.m.