Star Kitchen: Aaron Sanchez

Chopped judge Aaron Sanchez shows Food Network Magazine his mother's kitchen. Photographs by Lucas Allen.

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Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Photo By: Lucas Allen ©Lucas Allen

Aaron Sanchez's Mom's Kitchen

Chef Aaron Sanchez loves going home for the holidays, but that's not the only time he visits his mom, legendary cookbook author and restaurateur Zarela Martinez. Her New York City home kitchen (not too far from Aaron's own) doubles as his reference library year round: How do you make this sauce? What's that dish again? "I could look it up in a book," he says, "but it's easier to ask my mom."

Restaurant-Quality Stove

When Aaron's mom bought and renovated the house in 1994, industrial-style home kitchen appliances were rare. But she found this Garland stove, one of the few commercial-quality stoves available for residential use at the time. "It was the only one that had the firepower I needed," she says.

Thank-You Art

Zarela has collected loads of thank-you notes from decades of entertaining. The ones that get prime placement on her wall are from friends who went the extra mile and sent drawings, which she shows off in picture frames.

Mixer Station

An electric stand mixer and a traditional molcajete y tejolete (stone mortar and pestle from Mexico) get equal play in this kitchen, but the stand mixer gets a little more love around the holidays. That's when Zarela whips up Aaron's favorite dessert, coffee-crunch cake.

Overflow Seating

For big parties, Zarela uses this antique table as a prep surface, then as a place to put extra dinner guests. "We're the refuge for people who have no place to go on the holidays," Aaron says. "We've always been the house that anyone can go to."

Last-Minute Chair Covers

Years ago, Zarela discovered a small hole in one of the chairs before a party and covered it with a scarf as a last-minute fix. She liked the look so much that she covered the rest the same way.

Colorful Table

Zarela likes to keep her table set so she can show off her linens, plates and silver. Once she adds the food, the table can get a little crowded. "I'm always surprised that everything is able to fit," Aaron says.

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