Aaron Sanchez says MasterChef Season 13 will celebrate regional pride, interview

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant with judges Joe Bastianich and Aarón Sánchez in the “Regional Auditions - The Midwest” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 31 (8:00-9:02 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2023 FOXMEDIA LLC. Cr: FOX.
MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant with judges Joe Bastianich and Aarón Sánchez in the “Regional Auditions - The Midwest” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 31 (8:00-9:02 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2023 FOXMEDIA LLC. Cr: FOX. /

When FOX announced that MasterChef Season 13 would separate the cooks into their home regions, food television fans’ and food lovers’ excitement grew. Although American cuisine can be quite diverse, many people are passionate about their ingredients and flavors that represent their specific locale. As both MasterChef judge and mentor, Aaron Sanchez believes that this new season will showcase both the heart and creativity of passionate cooks.

Having a conversation with Aaron Sanchez is always more than just a discussion about food and flavor. While the new season of MasterChef might have been the premise of the call, the reality is that the celebrated chef understands and appreciates that food is more than just sustenance or impeccable execution. It is that connection to family, culture, and an open conversation to what is possible.

As many food television fans appreciate, MasterChef is more than just another cooking competition. Speaking to the longevity of the FOX television show, Sanchez said, “the unbelievable potential of the show is due to the mentoring part of MasterChef. For me, mentoring is essential because it wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for the mentoring that I received over my career.”

While Sanchez applauded the creative minds that create new concepts and keep the show relevant and exciting, MasterChef’s success comes down to the connection between the cooks and the judges. Those questions and moments during the cooking are essential not just to the contestants’ growth but also to the watchability of the show.

For Sanchez, he has developed a particular approach to his mentorship on MasterChef. While much has been said about the various differences in restaurant culture, Sanchez said he looks back to his Mexican culture which is all about respect. Specifically Sanchez said, “I complement them (the cooks) then break them down a little bit.” The questions open the door to a conversation. It is not about dictating. The mentoring is about giving them the tools to lead them to the better decision.

Since MasterChef Season 13 focuses on the competition between the regions, Sanchez believes that this concept will bring even better food on the plate. Some of the most successful MasterChef contestants have received that praise by cooking from the heart. This celebration of regional cuisine plays into that concept.

Sanchez said, “MasterChef Season 13 highlights the regionality and their pride. The multiple generations of regional American cooks have been presenting their dishes at home for many years.” By bringing them to the MasterChef Kitchen, it celebrates who they are, where they are from, and where they want to go.

As viewers watch the FOX television show, Sanchez says that everyone will be surprised to how the regional concept influences the show. It is more than just flavor. He mentioned that personalities can impact how the cooks work with one another. From the loquacious Southerners to the down to earth Midwest group, it is one of many ingredients that make an engaging competition.

Even though MasterChef is a cooking competition, it is the journey that makes this FOX show so watchable. Sanchez said, “the goal is to extract the best out of everybody. Everyone walks away with more confidence in their culinary dreams. In a way, everyone wins because they have grown along the way.”

In Season 13, Sanchez believes that the new challenges will bring extra excitement. He said, the field challenges push the cooks. From a special sporting event to this season’s restaurant takeover that makes one of the judges very emotional, each episode has a special moment that will have viewers engaged.

Aaron Sanchez on MasterChef Season 13
MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant with judges Joe Bastianich and Aarón Sánchez in the “Regional Auditions – The Midwest” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 31 (8:00-9:02 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2023 FOXMEDIA LLC. Cr: FOX. /

Since MasterChef has become more than just watching entertainment, many home cooks have looked to that show as their own at-home culinary inspiration. Sanchez has an idea on how to bring some of that culinary excitement to the table.

Sanchez suggested to gather a few couples, a box full of ingredients and see what can be created. More importantly, he suggested that grandma be the ultimate judge. Sanchez said, “grandmas are the best judges of food and are the best cooks in the house.” Impressing grandma with a particular dish might be even harder than getting an apron from Aaron Sanchez on MasterChef.

He went on to discuss how to adapt this cooking together concept on a larger scale. While regional produce is a great idea, Sanchez suggested purchasing a whole cow and splitting it with a group. It might be one way to get a common ingredient, but it is also a great way to be cost conscious with food purchases. That whole cow could feed a family for a long time. Plus, it pushes cooks to be creative and interpret a single ingredient in different ways.

Overall, food can showcase how common ingredients can be interpreted by different regions and backgrounds. Even more importantly, it can be time to debunk some preconceived notions about locations and certain food choices. For example, Sanchez shared that more people need to discover the Mexican food scene in Chicago, especially down on Pilsen.

When asked what his region would be, Sanchez’s response might get some people upset. Even though he grew up in New York, he said that he would represent the South. All those years down in New Orleans at Johnny Sanchez has made his connection to the South strong.

From the Mystery Box Challenges to the field challenges to just the poignant advice from judge and mentor Aaron Sanchez, there are plenty of reasons to watch MasterChef Season 13. The new season begins on May 24.

Which region will crown the winner? Be sure to watch every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on FOX or stream the next day on Hulu.