Aarón Sánchez Launched a Scholarship to Help Latinos Climb the Ladder in the Food Industry

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Aarón Sánchez‘s greatest contribution on the Food Network may very well be spreading the gospel of mole on Chopped. But when he’s not talking mole, he’s trying to help other Latino chefs come up. As Anthony Bourdain has pointed out on more than one occasion, the United States’ food industry cannot function without Latinos. But moving on up within the culinary world isn’t always easy for Latinos.

That’s why Sánchez is offering one Latino chef from New Orleans a scholarship to The International Culinary Center in New York. “It can be difficult to work your way up the ladder from dishwasher or line cook to executive chef,” Sánchez told The Times Picayune. “And I feel like there aren’t many opportunities for aspiring chefs, especially from the Latin community, to get to that next level.”

The scholarship, which is part of the John Besh Foundation and its Chefs Move program, is necessary because it will help one aspiring chef overcome a financial barrier that may otherwise prevent them from enrolling in culinary school. However, Sánchez wants the recipient to get more out of it than just cooking techniques. As part of the scholarship, Sánchez will mentor the winner and take him or her to Mexico. “Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my mentors were outside of the kitchen, so I think it’s important to just spend time with each recipient, learning who they are, where they are from and what they want to accomplish,” he added.

To raise money for the scholarship, he’s hosting a dinner on November 3 at Pigeon & Prince in New Orleans. Sánchez’s hope is to eventually give out multiple scholarships in one year.