Things will be heating up in the MasterChef kitchen. Back for its 11th season, MasterChef: Legends will follow 15 home cooks who are competing in a series of cooking competitions for a grand prize of $250,000.
But unlike previous seasons, these cooks will not only have to impress judges — Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, and Joe Bastianich — but a few culinary legends as well, including Emeril Lagasse, Paula Deen, Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto, and more.
With so much at stake, can these budding chefs handle the pressure?
Ahead of the Season 11 premiere, Distractify spoke exclusively with Chef Aarón to talk about the legendary season, how his approach to criticism differs from Chef Ramsay, and more.
Check out our Q&A below. (Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
'MasterChef: Legends' judge Aarón Sánchez teases Season 11.
Distractify: The stakes are greater than ever this season! What can you tease about this season of MasterChef: Legends?
Aarón Sánchez: Well, I can tell you we’ve got a lot of big personalities this year — contestants and judges — so things are going to be really fun and there are definitely some surprises.
D: As one of three judges, you all have different approaches to how you critique a dish. What is your approach?
AS: I am sort of the softy, but I try to give constructive criticism. I know that was always the way I learned best from my mistakes, so that’s how I like to share my honest truth without being too hurtful.
D: In the trailer, Paula Deen mentions that she doesn't like crushing dreams. Do you ever find it hard to send someone home or comment on a dish that you did not like?
AS: Of course, it’s terrible to send someone home who you know is trying really hard but striking out, but I know that just being on this show you learn so much, so they are never walking away empty-handed.
D: This season of MasterChef will welcome a variety of legends in the culinary field. Who was your culinary idol when you were first coming up in the industry? Why?
AS: Definitely Chef Paul Prudhomme, who was my mentor, because he was one of the first sort of nationally renowned chefs and he had such an incredible way of thinking about ingredients, techniques, service — things I still use to this day.
D: MasterChef was in the middle of filming when the pandemic struck. Can you talk about what that was like and how filming has changed since coming back to wrap up the show?
AS: That was an incredibly tough decision to make, but we ultimately were able to come back and finish so I’m glad we were able to get this done safely and now get to share it.
D: Out of the culinary guest judges, who is one that you would pick to cook you a meal? Why?
AS: I mean I have great respect for all these amazing folks, but I have to say my buddy Emeril, we’ve known each other for a long time and I just always have such a great time with him.
D: Being around legendary chefs, has Gordon Ramsay (or another legend on set) taught you anything about cooking that you may not have known? Did you teach him (or another guest judge) anything?
AS: Of course, I’ve learned so many things from Gordon and I am so grateful to have him in my life. I think he’s probably learned a thing or two from me as well, but I really look up to him and admire his wealth of knowledge and vast accomplishments so much.
MasterChef: Legends airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.