In January, the ICC New York campus facilities received a visit from the esteemed Chef Aarón Sánchez. During his visit, Chef Aarón demonstrated some techniques behind creating authentic Mexican cuisine with the help of current ICC Professional Culinary Arts student, Oswaldo Rios.
Oswaldo was selected from a pool of more than 40 applicants to become the first-ever recipient of the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund for aspiring chefs from the New Orleans Latino community. The program pays to send the recipient to ICC and provides other career development support back in New Orleans. Oswaldo, who will be graduating the International Culinary Center’s program in 2018, has expressed a keen sense of work ethic, ambition and understanding of mentoring.
Following the inspiring demonstration, we caught up with Chef Sánchez to discuss the importance of having a mentor during your culinary studies and how having guidance from another chef can help to shape your culinary career.
ICC: Why do you think that mentorship is so important for young, aspiring chefs?
I think it’s important to have structure and a constant source of inspiration which you can get from a good mentor. When you see that your goals are tangible if you have a great work ethic, passion and resilience, it can keep you going through the tough times. A mentor can also serve as a reminder to honor your legacy or heritage and to carry on family and cultural traditions.”
ICC: Who would you consider to be your mentor? Why?
My mentors were my Mom and Abuela of course, as well as Chef Paul Prudhomme. They were my mentors for many reasons and offered a variety of lessons in different stages of my life and career. My family has always been run by strong women who stayed true to their roots while putting their own flare and touch on everything they created, they each had their own style. Chef Paul taught me the basics and really ingrained the building blocks for success in me. He imparted so much knowledge over the years, but I would say that he always told me to do my research and have a deep understanding of ingredients, techniques and regional cuisines.
ICC: What piece of advice would you pass along to Oswaldo, the first recipient of the scholarship, or any future mentees that you feel would be invaluable throughout their culinary careers?
Work hard, find your voice, always be curious and keep learning, explore and travel as much as you can. Honor your culture and preserve your legacy. “