Kansas City Food Stars: Aaron Sanchez of Mestizo

Sanchez picked Kansas City to create an introduction to traditional Mexican flavors.

Aarón Sánchez’s list of accolades and accomplishments is almost as impressive as the authentic Mexican cuisine on which he’s built his career, not to mention Mestizo. The Leawood restaurant not only showcases the food he loves so much, but also embodies the culinary inspiration that comes from his close-knit family.

“My mom is the queen bee, the pioneer of Mexican cuisine,” he says. “Also, chefs like Jonathan Waxman, Paul Prudhomme and Mark Miller have paved the way for me with their risks and high level of standards.”

As Sánchez contemplated opening a new restaurant, Kansas City emerged as an ideal location.

“It was important for me to share my food and culture with a part of the country that might not be so familiar with true Mexican flavors and traditions,” he says.

And now that he’s part of the local culinary community, he’s witnessed firsthand the supportive attitude that’s a hallmark of Kansas City’s food industry.

“Chefs like Mike Smith, Colby Garrelts and Howard Hanna are very welcoming to other chefs that are helping to promote their city,” he says.

As a result, it’s no surprise that, when he’s not at Mestizo, you can probably find Sánchez at Rye, Extra Virgin, Julian or McCoy’s. That is, when his demanding schedule allows. Sánchez already has plans for another New York City restaurant and is teaming up with Chef John Besh on a new concept called, appropriately enough, Johnny Sánchez.

While in the kitchen, Sánchez creates any number of mouthwatering dishes ranging from Fajitas Sánchez to braised pork cheeks paired with creamy pozole and a green chile broth. His favorite dish to prepare? Enchiladas, thanks to their endless versatility.

“They’re the perfect vessel for so many different fillings, salsas and toppings,” he says.

Sounds delicious—and an ideal analogy for Kansas City’s restaurant scene, too.

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