An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jul 14, 2014
12:12 PM
The Connecticut Table

Celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez of 'Chopped' Opens Paloma in Stamford

Celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez of 'Chopped' Opens Paloma in Stamford

Photos by Clay Williams

Celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez at Paloma.

Editor's note: Paloma had a soft opening Saturday night for "friends and family," and officially opens tonight (July 21) to the public.

Hip, stylish, delicious new Latin sizzle has arrived at the high-energy Harbor Point urban redevelopment on Stamford’s industrial waterfront in the form of the new restaurant Paloma from chef Aarón Sánchez, the owner of Mestizo in Leawood, Kan., and co-star of Food Network’s hit series, "Chopped"—among many other credits—who recently appeared at The White House as a guest chef.

(Right, empanadas, and below, cactus fritters.)

“There’s something [especially] convivial and social about eating Latin-inspired food," Sánchez tells Connecticut Magazine. Dishes with nice acidity, great spice and influences from cuisines around the world are a hot culinary trend with time-tested appeal—while also particularly appealing to young food savvy people who “travel the world," Sánchez says.

At Paloma, Sánchez is presenting the flavors of Latin America (of “where I grew up”) and, he says, from “my travels.”

That translates into dishes like these:

 
 
Raw Bar: 
Hamachi Tiradito with Passion Fruit Aji Rocoto Sauce and Crispy Hominy
Beef Heart and Sirloin Tostada with Quail Egg

Botanas (Small Plates): 
Cactus Fritters with Chipotle Remoulade Sauce
Chorizo and Sweet Plantain Empanadas with Mole
Albondigas (Meatballs) with Chipotle Broth and Mint

Entrees: 
Pan Seared Double Cut Pork Chop (right) with Grapefruit Mojo served with Yam Puree
Camarones Mojo de Ajo (Jumbo Shrimp with Chile de Arbol Butter) 

Large Share Plates: 
Pollo Pibil - Whole Roasted Chicken Marinated in Achiote Habanero Sauce served with Pickled Salad
Tomahawk Steak for Two with Chimichurri Sauce and Epazote Bearnaise served with a Wild Mushroom Salad and Bone Marrow and Short Rib Enchilada

 

Asked about favorite things and dishes, Sánchez says Paloma will delve into all the molés and “the traditional sauces,” and adds, “I look forward to making my grandmother’s meatball recipe, which is one of my favorite things on the menu."

(Left, tuna tostada.)

“I’m so excited to be here,” the chef says of Stamford and Harbor Point, which, its website explains, is “a transit-oriented, mixed use development along the Long Island Sound. Comprised of more than 1,500 new apartments, Stamford’s newest office space, and some of the region’s finest dining and shopping establishments, Harbor Point is a true ‘24/7’ location. Harbor Point (below) also boasts several marinas, a waterfront boardwalk, and acres of public parks.”

 

“We are thrilled to open such an exciting restaurant in an area that is in the middle of a re-birth, thanks to the commitment of the BLT group and the Harbor Point development teams,” Sánchez says in an opening statement. “I can’t wait to share my flavors and cuisine with the community. Paloma is all about bringing people together to enjoy great food and drinks in a beautiful setting.”

The 250-seat Paloma, the statement says, “will feature a range of offerings, from whole roasted meats from the restaurant's wood grill to an extensive raw bar, ceviche, grilled seafood, and a variety of shareable plates. Paloma will also offer a wide range of classic and contemporary cocktails that represent a wide selection of handcrafted spirits from Latin America, including tequila, mezcal, pisco, cachaca, and rum.”

The signature cocktails include:
  • Paloma (below right) - ruby red grapefruit and lime, sea salt, purified water, camarena reposado tequila and grapefruit crème brûlée nectar, carbonated.
  • Amor - jasmine flowers and orange, maté nectar, lavender tincture, carbonated.
  • Bee's & Honey - raw honey and lemon, ginger-tumeric nectar, el buho mezcal and makers mark bourbon
  • Grace - passion fruit and lemon, orange blossom, sugarcane, casamigo's silver tequila and champagne vollereaux
  • Alegre Hemingway - lime and ruby red grapefruit, maraschino liqueur, tapatio anejo tequila and atlantico reserve rum
     

Paloma is the first of several sequential launches for Sánchez, who will go on to open Alegre in New York City, and Johnny Sánchez with friend and colleague Chef John Besh in Baltimore. After that, Sanchez tells Connecticut Magazine, he’s looking at doing something in New Orleans.

“No one ever called me smart,” Sánchez jokes when asked about the challenges of multiple launches, adding more seriously, “We have a lot of real talented people around us.”

(Above right, Bee's & Honey: raw honey and lemon, ginger-tumeric nectar, el buho mezcal and makers mark bourbon. Below right, a Paloma Margarita.)
 

CHEF AARÓN SÁNCHEZ BIO

Aarón Sánchez is the chef/owner of Mestizo in Leawood, Kansas, and in 2014 will open Paloma in Stamford, CT, Alegre in New York, N.Y., and Johnny Sánchez alongside friend and colleague Chef Besh in Baltimore, Maryland. Aarón is the co-star of Food Network’s hit series, Chopped, as well as the star of FOX Life’s #1 rated series Aarón Loves NY and the travel-food series MOTOCHEFS. He is also the culinary visionary behind Crossroads at House of Blues nationwide. The son of celebrated Mexican cooking authority Zarela Martinez, Aarón’s passion, commitment and skills have placed him among the country’s leading contemporary Latin chefs.
Celebrated by critics and contemporaries alike, Aarón recently appeared at the White House as a guest chef and received the “National Award” at the Flavors of Passion Awards, honoring the nation’s best Latin chefs. He has also starred on multiple Food Network shows including: Chopped, Heat Seekers, Chefs vs. City, Best Thing I Ever Ate and Next Iron Chef. In 2011, he appeared on the debut season of The Best Thing I Ever Made, where Food Network stars share their culinary secrets.
In addition to being a restaurateur, television personality, consultant and spokesperson, Aarón is an author and entrepreneur. His first book, La Comida del Barrio, was published in May 2003. His second book, Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, was released in October 2011. Aarón also designed a line of cookware products in collaboration with IMUSA and is a spokesperson for their “Global Kitchen” line. He is also a Chef Ambassador for “Why Hunger,” a leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty.
Aarón’s creativity extends far beyond the kitchen. He is a partner at Daredevil Tattoo in NYC and is an avid music lover; he enjoys cooking to the sounds of Alabama Shakes, Amos Lee, Sade, and The Cure. Aarón lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez of 'Chopped' Opens Paloma in Stamford

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