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Chef Aarón Sánchez has been one of the core judges for Food Network's long-running competition series Chopped since its very first episode back in 2009. After packing in the calories from the best and worst of all those secret basket ingredients - I would love to see a miles-long infographic calculating every Chopped meal's calories - the culinary celeb has some opinions. There's one particular ingredient that he dreads seeing on the show, durian, and another that even he wouldn't know what to do with in the kitchen: duck testicles. Let's start there, shall we? His words:
I just think like, one time they had duck testicles. Which, like, I didn't even know ducks had testicles so that's kind of something I wouldn't even know how to go about. Yeah, so definitely that. Anything ball-related is always a tough one.
Aarón Sánchez, a man who has cooked for former President Barack Obama - himself not a picky eater - and his wife Michelle, can be bamboozled in the kitchen he's presented with a basket (or platter or Ziploc bag or whatever) of duck testicles as his protein. I have a lot of love for Sánchez, both for his Food Network career and for his New Orleans appreciation, so I'm proud to share something in common with the former Iron Chef America challenger, even if it is an innate bafflement over preparing duck nards for dinner. Though having inedible garnishes on Chopped is considered bad form, that would sound like a right nice way to use all manner of fowl (or foul) genitals.
If you've ever seen Aarón Sánchez talk about food or actually get in front of a cutting board and an oven, you know he's a master of many foods, especially those of the pepper variety. He even got to put his money (for charity) where his mouth is in 2015 for the special leftovers-focused "Judges Face-Off" episode of Chopped, in which Sánchez beat out fellow regulars Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy and Amanda Freitag. But the toughest ingredient was probably working cheddar biscuits into dessert, and there wasn't a single testicle to be found. Although peanuts were in the basket for the entrée round.
On the flip side of things, where judging requires his palate to be at the ready, Aarón Sánchez told Uproxx that there's definitely one ingredient that draws a negative reaction when it's in the basket.
Yeah, I think one time we had, no joke, something called durian, which is this horrible fruit from Southeast Asia that is banned from restaurants and airplanes because it's so pungent. So when I saw the durian come out I was like, 'Oh shit.'
The durian fruit is like kryptonite to a lot of chefs, and it tends to get dragged out whenever producers really want to make both contestants and judges suffer. Not that it was ever a secret, but now that Sánchez has put that out there, one would expect him to get served durian at least three times in the next month.
With a future at the hectic Masterchef in his future, Aarón Sánchez can be seen on Chopped repeats airing quite often, but new episodes of the competition hit Food Network on Tuesday nights. Head to our midseason premiere schedule to see when everything else is hitting the small screen in the near future.