January 30 — Um, excuse me, Taylor Swift ? Can I ask you to sit in some seats? THANKS.
Pay no attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt Estefania Ortega wore Tuesday at WVU’s Evansdale Cafe.
She was patiently waiting to see a Super Bowl celebrity of a different kind.
“I’m just here for Chef Aaron,” the WVU animal science major from Union City, New Jersey, said with a laugh.
As in the case of Chief Aaron Sanchez, the TV chef who was visiting the state’s flagship university to see how his Adobo Catina was doing.
Sanchez, who lends his culinary expertise to FOX’s “Master Chef” and “Master Chef Junior” culinary competitions, launched the project last year with help from Sodexo, the restaurant giant that also partners with Morgantown School. .
“This is my second visit,” he said.
“I love this place. And I love seeing people enjoy the food. That’s why we do this.”
The Cantina, which mans the cafe’s central grill, offers a variety of traditional Mexican dishes and other culinary dishes it is known for, to the college lunch hour crowd.
Meanwhile, that particular college lunchtime crowd — including Ortega and her best friend, Aliyah Aponte, a forensic science student and fellow Jerseyite from Vineland — was still able to enjoy three new articles on the theme of the Super Bowl who made their debut for the day in preparation for Big Game two. in a few weeks.
With Sanchez participating, the cantina served pineapple ginger wings, albondiga sliders and Mardi Gras king cake, which is a nod to the dessert at his Johnny Sanchez restaurant in New Orleans.
The sliders come from her grandmother’s recipe. The ginger wings are the creation of his mother, Zarela Martinez, the chef and restaurateur who inspired him.
“Oh, yes, we bring something different,” he said.
“That’s exactly what my mother does in the kitchen.”
The matriarch found herself divorced and in El Paso, Texas, with two young sons, Aaron and his brother Rodrigo, to raise.
A chance apprenticeship under Paul Prudhomme, the famous New Orleans chef, gave her the confidence to make the jump to New York, where she eventually opened her own restaurant.
Sánchez still smiles as he remembers the little family’s first week in the big city.
One of those nights, she smoked out their entire building while roasting peppers for a recipe.
On Tuesday, far from Manhattan, in Morgantown, a restaurant on the Evansdale campus was also smoking, like a metaphorical menu.
“Yeah, I think they like it,” said cantina executive chef Monica Gaarz.
Ortega and Aponte enjoyed Sánchez’s autographs and smartphone video greetings he gave to Ortega’s mother, in Spanish.
And when they started eating, Sanchez served them personally.
“Two VIPs here,” he said.
So how was it?
“Oh, my God,” Ortega said as he took the wings. “Perfect.”
“Couldn’t be better,” Aponte pressed, over his cursor. “You know, we try to cook. We’re just not very good at it.”