Endemol Shine North America, a division of Banijay Americas, is expanding its relationship with acclaimed chef and author Aarón Sánchez and looking to develop potential scripted projects with the “MasterChef” judge, it was announced today by the studio’s Chief Content Officer, Sharon Levy.
Endemol Shine North America, which produces the hit FOX series “MasterChef” and “MasterChef Junior,” has optioned the rights to Sánchez’s bestselling memoir, Where I Come From: Life Lessons From a Latino Chef and is currently developing it for a potential scripted series. Flavio Morales, Lisa Fahrenholt and Levy are leading development efforts for Endemol Shine.
In the memoir, Sánchez shares his amazing personal journey, as well as the inspirational story of his mother, Zarela Martinez, a culinary trailblazer who raised Sánchez and steered him to become the award-winning chef, TV personality, author and philanthropist he is today.
“America knows and loves Aarón from ‘MasterChef’ and his myriad culinary accomplishments, but most people don’t know the amazing journey and the obstacles that he and his mother overcame to become pioneers of Mexican-American cuisine in this country,” says Levy. “He has truly lived the American dream and we are excited to now be developing his unique story into a dramatic TV series and exploring additional opportunities with Aarón.”
“It’s more important than ever to tell genuine stories of what it’s like growing up bicultural in America. We want to share the nuances that are unique to Mexican-American culture and honor those roots, while also hoping audiences from different backgrounds connect to the similarities we share – the struggles, the celebrations, the food, the comedy, the survival instincts… the relentless pursuit of happiness,” Sánchez explains. “I came up at a time when food was making its way into pop-culture and cooking in restaurants was our primary form of creative expression, so having this opportunity to develop in the scripted space is something I’m really looking forward to. And I couldn’t be more excited to do it with my Endemol Shine family.”
Endemol Shine North America is currently in production with Showtime on “Ripley,” a drama based on based on Patricia Highsmith’s bestselling quintet of Tom Ripley novels. Ripley, which stars Dakota Fanning (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Sherlock), is being written and directed by Oscar and Golden Globe® winner Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, The Night Of). The studio also recently co-produced “Utopia” for Amazon Prime, which was written and produced by Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Sharp Objects”).
In his memoir, Sánchez delves into his formative years with remarkable candor, injecting his personal story with adrenaline and revealing how he fell in love with cooking and made a go of it in the fast-paced culinary world. And it all started with guidance from his mom. With scant resources, Martinez took Sánchez and his twin brother from El Paso, Texas to New York City at a young age, while she chased her dream of owning a restaurant in the Big Apple.
After overcoming many obstacles, Martinez rose to success in the NYC restaurant scene and is now credited with bringing sophisticated Mexican cuisine to America. And Sánchez was destined to follow in her footsteps, as he spent numerous nights as a child in his family’s dining room, surrounded by some of the most influential chefs and restaurateurs in New York. He lost his father at a young age, and at 16 he was sent to work for renowned chef Paul Prudhomme in New Orleans.
Sánchez is now chef/owner of Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, and a judge on FOX’s hit culinary competition series “MasterChef” and “MasterChef Junior.” He is also partner/creative director of Cocina, the first online content platform dedicated to celebrating Latin lifestyle through its vibrant culinary culture. Sánchez grew up in the restaurant business and is passionate about preserving his family’s legacy through food and encouraging diversity in the kitchen.
Sánchez has also starred in multiple cable food shows, most notably as a judge on “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior.” He was the host of the Emmy Award-nominated series “Taco Trip,” and has hosted two Spanish-language shows, “3 Minutos con Aarón” and “Motochefs.”
A third-generation cookbook author, Sánchez has written two cookbooks, “La Comida del Barrio” and “Simple Food, Big Flavor.” In fall 2019, he published his memoir a year later, Sánchez and his mother launched their podcast, “Cooking in Mexican from A to Z.”
Sánchez has won a James Beard Award for Television Studio Program and was recognized by the Hispanic Federation with the Premio Orgullo Award for being a leader in the Hispanic community. In 2016, he founded the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund (ASSF), an initiative empowering aspiring chefs from the Latin community. ASSF provides recipients with full culinary scholarships to schools in New York City and ongoing mentorship. Sánchez’s love for the arts extends beyond the kitchen. He is a partner in world-renowned tattoo shop and museum Daredevil Tattoo in NYC.