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Food Network’s Aaron Sanchez features Charleston on the show Heat Seekers this week

Thursday August 25th, 2011

by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC – Chef Aaron Sanchez came to Charleston this summer to film an episode of his new Food Network series called Heat Seekers.  They were looking for ways that Charleston restaurants incorporate spicy foods into their menus.  They filmed at Pearlz (XXX spicy oyster shooter), Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ (Death Relish) and the food trucks Hello My Name is BBQ (spicy meatloaf sandwhich) and Diggity Doughnuts (spicy sriracha doughnuts).


You may remember Aaron from his Food Network shows such as Chefs Vs. City, The Next Iron Chef and Chopped.  Heat Seekers premiered this summer and the Charleston episode is set to premier on Friday August 26th at 10PM on Food Network.  We spoke to Aaron about his new show.


CFB:  How long have you know your Heat Seekers co-host Roger Mooking?

 Chef Aaron Sanchez:  I met him right before we started shooting and we became fast friends. We spent some time together in New York.  We went out to dinner.  We hung out and, you know, he is just an amazingly good person. He affects and touches people lives with his laughter and joy. He is just a talented and good guy that knows a lot about food. We are a very good team.


CFB:  What can we tell people to expect from Heat Seekers? 

 Chef Aaron Sanchez: What we are trying to do here is expose all the other elements of heat. Not necessarily just the spiciness which is the obvious element but you know the citrus and other nuances and flavor profiles you get from chilies.  We are also trying to highlight restaurants that serve spicy food that might not be recognized as such


CFB:  Why do you think people enjoy eating spicy foods with the pain element that is involved?

 Chef Aaron Sanchez:  I think people are trying to push themselves and really understand what food can do physically and emotionally so if you have the same basic flavors all of the time it doesn’t challenge your palate. It doesn’t challenge you. So when you have spicy food it allows you to pay attention to things you may not have paid attention to.


CFB:  Do you think more women are starting to get into spicy foods more these days?

Chef Aaron Sanchez:  Absolutely. I have seen quite a shift in the balance. It is not just about big burley guys who like spicy.  I have seen small little 100 pound girls taking it down. The heart is what matters.


CFB:  What do you do to cool down after trying those super spicy foods?

Chef Aaron Sanchez:  The secret for me is sour cream or yogurt and then mix that with sugar.  Mix a couple of teaspoons of sugar to 1 cup of sour cream or yogurt. A couple of spoonfuls of that will take about 80-90 percent of the capsaicin off of your palate.


CFB:  Within about how long?

Chef Aaron Sanchez:  It takes some time. It doesn’t happen right away. It is not instant but, it starts at least helping right away.


CFB:  What are your current flavors besides heat you like these days?

Chef Aaron Sanchez:   I am really liking how people are smoking meats right now. That is really one part of my game I want to improve on. How to really do great BBQ? I am also into Asian flavors and how subtle and intricate the preparations are.


CFB:  Not too many people do Latin fusion.  Why not?

Chef Aaron Sanchez:   For me fusion equals confusion.  If I am going to do a restaurant I am going to do it all one way.  If it is Asian then I am going to do all the way Asian and try to do as much respect to that food as I can and not confuse the message.


CFB:  If it is lunch time and you are on the interstate and nothing but gas stations or fast food around what do you do? 

Chef Aaron Sanchez:  I would just stay hungry.  I want something that is made with people’s hands or I would try to run something over that I can cook.


CFB:  What are your other hobbies? 

Chef Aaron Sanchez:  My wife is a musician so we do a lot of stuff around that. We are also Buddhists. We practice Buddhism and we belong to an organization called SGI. I also like to play basketball, I write poetry, I write books. My new book will be coming out in October from the publisher Atria. The book is called Simple Food Big Flavor.


CFB: Is it a recipe book? 

Chef Aaron Sanchez:  It has recipes and personal stories. I need to swing by Charleston on my book tour.


CFB:  We would love to have you back. We can’t wait to see the Heat Seekers episode you filmed here in Charleston.  The episode premiers on Friday August 26th at 10PM on Food Network.