There’s a new MasterChef judge — and we couldn’t be more excited!

Chef Aáron Sánchez has officially joined the hit FOX reality show for Season 8 alongside returning judges Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi.

In an exclusive new interview with Closer Weekly, the 41-year-old opened up about why he wanted the MasterChef gig, which judge he’s most eager to work with, and revealed his advice to the contestants!

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Scroll down to see our Q&A with Aáron and a preview clip for next week’s new MasterChef episode!

What are you looking forward to on Season 8 of MasterChef?

I am most excited to be a mentor to the contestants. Being able to take the whole journey with them from start to finish is really rewarding because I get to see their growth as cooks.

aaron sanchez 'masterchef' fox. © 2017 fox broadcasting co.
FOX. © 2017 FOX Broadcasting Co.

MasterChef judges Gordon, Aáron, and Christina.

Why did you want to join the show as a judge?

I wanted to join the show so that I can share my culture and be an example for young Latin Americans. I’m incredibly passionate about honoring my legacy and giving the next generation of aspiring chefs the necessary tools and resources for success.

Which other judge are you most eager to work with?

Both Christina and Gordon are really amazing to work with. Gordon is really becoming a mentor and a source of inspiration to me, which is awesome to have at my stage in life. He has an incredibly high standard and holds people accountable while being nurturing and supportive, so those are all qualities I hope to emulate.

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What’s the best advice you can give the new MasterChef contestants?

Work hard, be curious, be disciplined, continue to practice your craft, find your passion and sources of creativity and inspiration. Don’t let one mistake trip you up, as long as you keep going and give it your all, you will feel satisfied no matter what the result is.

You’ve been cooking since an early age — when did you know you wanted to become a chef?

I’m a third generation cookbook author, so I grew up with a lot of talent in the kitchen at my house. I would help my abuela and other family members prepare dishes as a kid, but my mom sent me to study with Chef Paul Prudhomme when I was 16 and that really got me set on this as a career.

MORE: Gordon Ramsay Jokes About Being Kicked Out of Parents’ Night at His Daughter’s School — “I Really Messed Up!”

How much has your upbringing influenced your culinary career?

It has influenced my entire trajectory in life, I mean one of my main goals is to carry on the traditions of my culture and pass that on to the next generations. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my family and their support, wisdom and honoring our heritage and customs.

aaron sanchez 'masterchef' fox. © 2017 fox broadcasting co.
FOX. © 2017 FOX Broadcasting Co.

Aáron with fellow MasterChef judge Gordon.

You have a son — does he like to cook, too?

He’s still young, but he is starting to show some interest in the kitchen. I try to get him to be as open to new things as possible, and I know he will get more curious with time. I don’t push him to follow in my footsteps, whatever makes him happy and so long as he is a good person and well rounded I feel like I’ve accomplished my job.

MasterChef airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.

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