- Food Network
Local pastry chef and chocolatier Nacho Aguirre has delivered a sweet, sweet victory to San Antonio.
Aguirre, co-owner of Délice Chocolatier and Patisserie on the city's far North Central Side, was named champion on the fourth season of the Food Network’s reality show Spring Baking Championship. His win, which earned him a grand prize of $50,000, comes two years after his wife Susana Mijares came in as a runner-up on the same show.
During an interview with the Current yesterday morning, Aguirre talked about how he ended up getting tapped for the show, the inspiration his hometown of Torreón, Mexico provided him, and whether he thinks one of his five children will end up competing on the Food Network one day.
When I interviewed Susana back in 2016, she told me it was a “lifelong dream” to be on a Food Network reality show. Was it a dream of yours, too?
We’ve been watching the Food Network for a long time. Of course, we love to bake, and we have passion for what we do. We like to make people happy with our creations. So, who wouldn’t dream to be on the Food Network? It wasn’t one of my main goals, but I ended up there. [Laughs]
Susana said she had no idea you applied for her to be on the show two years ago. Did she do the same to you this time around?
Yes, it was payback! I knew it was her lifelong dream to be on the Food Network, so I sent in all her information and then we got a call. That’s what happened this time. A producer contacted her and then I went through the whole selection process, which is a long one. They had a lot of applications – almost 2,000. I was so honored to be there.
In the first episode of this season, you said Susana taught you everything you know. How did she introduce you to baking?
I never studied [baking] or never took a class. Susana is a graduate of the Cordon Bleu [Paris], so everything I know in the kitchen, I know from her. We have the same business that we have here in Torreón, Mexico where we’re from. That one has been operating for 19 years. That’s how I learned. I started as a manager, but then things needed to be done, so she taught me how [to bake] and that’s how I got involved. When we moved here to San Antonio [in 2009], we needed to do everything we could to be successful. Starting a business is hard. That’s when I really got into [baking].
Who does most of the cooking at home?
Susana mainly does the cooking. I work two jobs. I’m an insurance agent/baker. [Laughs] But on the weekends, I try to do something. I really enjoy cooking at the house.
Susana told me that your kids are always volunteering her for bake sales without asking her first. Do you think they’re going to do the same to you now?
[Laughs] Maybe! Every one of my kids came to me and told me how very proud they are. They are very happy that I was able to do what I did. They were very impressed that I was able to make so much stuff!
Did you surprise yourself with what you were able to do on the show?
Yes, it was a revelation. The competition is so intense. They tell you what to do and you have to go with your gut and start doing it. You don’t have time to second guess yourself. So, yes, I impressed myself as well.
What did you learn about yourself as a baker during this experience?
What I learned is that if you put all your knowledge and passion into baking or cooking, there’s always going to be a good outcome.
One of the last desserts you made on the show was a spice cake that you decorated as a southwest landscape. Where did you get the inspiration for that design?
In Torreón, where I was born and spent most of my life, we have sunsets that look like that – very bright. There are lots of cactuses. I don’t know much about succulents, but I know about cactuses in the desert. Every single afternoon, the sky would light up with these amazing oranges and pinks and purples and blues. So, that was my inspiration – my hometown, as well as San Antonio, which opened its heart and its doors for my family. I wanted to represent that on the show.
Is it safe to assume we’ll be seeing at least one of your kids on a Food Network reality show in the future?
[Laughs] Oh my God, I don’t know. They really enjoy what we do. I hope that some of them choose [baking] on their own. We are very supportive of everything they want to do. All of them have their own [interests]. I don’t know if anyone will take over and do it, but I hope so. That would be amazing.