Do you love cooking shows? What about makeover shows that make a difference? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then we have the perfect series for you…

It’s almost premiere time for COCINA’s all new original series called El Toque de Aarón, starring beloved Chef Aarón Sánchez!

Growing up in the restaurant business, Chef Aarón has always had a passion to: 1) preserve his family’s legacy through food and 2) encourage diversity in kitchen leadership and 3) uplift the Latino businesses community.

What’s “El Toque de Aarón” about?

During each episode of “El Toque de Aarón” Chef Aaron and his team help empower six Latino restaurants in the Los Angeles area with great potential, but each facing individual struggles in this post-Covid era. Every case is different but all of the episodes are packed with twists, emotions, and ultimately a lot of love. Why the twists? Because they only have 4 DAYS to reimagine these restaurants with a revamped menu and a refreshed space in an attempt to uplift the businesses.

On each episode, Aarón will bring his personal touch through an original dish for the menu, while advising the restaurants’ chefs with his culinary tips. 

Chef Aarón is bringing in an amazing team to help him execute this great undertaking: Emmy-award winning designer Cris Mercado and the multitasking interior designer and project manager Ángel Riveros. #DreamTeam

El Toque de Aarón - The team
The Dream Team of El Toque de Aarón

Who are Cris Mercado and Ángel Riveros?

Cris Mercado was the first American-Dominican woman to be featured on the “HGTV Star”, and she has been continuing to break barriers ever since. With more than 10 years experience in production design, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Art Direction and Set Design for her work on the “Kelly Clarkson Show.” and in 2018 she founded her own company, Cris Mercado Design. It’s easy to see why Aarón chose her as the mastermind behind all the restaurants’ designs for El Toque de Aaron.

But that’s not all! We also have the incredible Ángel Riveros. Ángel is an award-winning interior designer with Colombian roots. Among the many significant things he’s done during his career—opening his own design studio back in 2020 called AIR Studio, where he creates exciting, intentional concepts with the intention of making design accessible to everybody. On “El Toque de Aarón”, Ángel is in charge of keeping everything on track during each restaurant renovation.

El Toque de Aarón - Cris y Ángel
Ángel Riveros and Cris Mercado

When and where can I watch “El Toque de Aarón”?

The show premieres on April 17th at 10 PM PT on Discovery Familia, and you can watch a new episode every Monday at that same time! 

You can also catch “El Toque de Aarón” on Hogar de HGTV on April 19th at 10:30 PM PT and every Wednesday after that. 

And If you are more of a streamer kind of person, every episode will live on the Discovery Familia GO App after its premiere. You can download the app here!

Meet the Latino restaurants from El Toque de Aarón and their owners’ stories!

Ceviche Stop

Who are the owners?

Walther and his wife Diana, both Peruvians, met in Los Angeles. Inspired by his father—who mentored him in the kitchen and taught him how to create delicious flavors from their home country—Walther originally started his business selling Peruvian ceviche walking around Los Angeles on foot. Walther and Diana’s efforts paid off: eventually, they were able to work their way up to buying a food truck. And a year ago, they opened their first brick and mortar restaurant! 

Why did they call Aarón and his team?

Diana is in charge of the administrative and front of the house part of the restaurant, but she feels that she needs help in this field. She was the one who built the restaurant’s furniture, which has deteriorated over time.

Additionally, Walther’s menu has become a bit scattered over the years and needs an adjustment in order to truly showcase all the beautiful Peruvian flavor that Ceviche Stop used to feature.

El Toque de Aarón - Ceviche Stop
El Toque de Aarón¿s team and Ceviche Stop’s crew

Café Fresco

Who is the owner?

Aracelli is a 28 year-old Ecuadorian. She was born in Quito and arrived in Los Angeles when she was just 3 years old. Feeling isolated from her roots during the pandemic, she started a culinary business called Quito, which sold Ecuadorian food online.

After this experience, Aracelli was ready to grow the business: she decided to build her own restaurant! After a lot of effort and help from her friends and family (including her parents, Chef Aarón’s accomplices) she was able to open her restaurant, Café Fresco.

Why did they call Aarón and his team?

The restaurant has a Mexican-Ecuadorian-Mexican-American menu, but the property is quite dated and in need of a makeover.  Aracelli is hoping that Chef Aarón will help her compete with neighboring restaurants that have a more modern and up-to-date look.

El Toque de Aarón - Café Fresco
El Toque de Aarón’s team and Café Fresco’s crew


Who is the owner?

Dora is 65 years-old and inherited Yucas from her mother Socorro, who opened it back in 1976. While studying at University, Dora would come home to Los Angeles to work at the restaurant during the summer. She eventually realized that the family restaurant was her passion and took over.

Since the entire founding family comes from the Yucatán peninsula, they decided to name the restaurant “Yucas”.

El Toque de Aarón - Yucas
Chef Aarón being cheered up by Yuca’s crew

Why did they call Aarón and his team?

Dora’s nephew decided to call the “El Toque de Aarón” team with the hope of improving the outside and interior of the restaurant, including its very small kitchen. And the menu hasn’t changed in 46 years! It was time to respect and honor the restaurant’s legacy, while introducing modern flavors …and who better than Chef Aarón to do so?

Nonna’s Empanadas

Who is the owner?

Eduardo is from Argentina and currently running Nonnas, the family business founded by his father and his grandmother 13 years ago.

Eduardo’s grandma is the inspiration and muse for this restaurant and its name. She was the one who taught him almost everything he knows about cooking (especially how to make delicious empanadas).

Why did they call Aarón and his team?

Eddy is looking to modify his recipes with the help of Chef Aarón: they have over 30 flavors of empanadas but haven’t found a chef who could adjust the menu and keep the flavors from his grandma’s recipes.

For Eddy, Nonna’s is a project full of love: he wants to renew the restaurant so that the empanada’s sales continue to grow and his grandmother’s legacy lives on.

El Toque de Aarón - Nonnas
El Toque de Aarón’s team and Nonna’s cooking crew

El Rey del Mar

Who is the owner?

Manuel Vázquez started in the restaurant and nightclub industry in Acapulco, Mexico when he was just 20 years old. In 1982 he moved to the USA and worked as a gardener for many years.

Fifteen years ago, Manuel saw a storefront and felt drawn to it. He just knew had potential. Eventually, he bought the space and transformed it into a restaurant. That’s how El Rey del Mar began!

Why did they call Aarón and his team?

Although the restaurant is called El Rey del Mar (The King of the Sea), the menu doesn’t specifically represent this type of cuisine. Manuel knows they need to find an identity for the restaurant menu, so is excited for the help of Chef Aarón and his team.

 Manuel would love to improve his dishes and the atmosphere so that whoever comes in feels like the—you guessed it—King of the Sea!

El Toque de Aarón - El Rey del Mar
Manuel and Chef Aarón Sánchez


Who is the owner?

Yesica learned how to make arepas from her mom while in Venezuela. And those recipes were very successful back home.

When she arrived in the United States at the age of 22, she began to make arepas for the Venezuelan community. Seeing their success in her new country, she decided to open Chamo 5 years ago.

Why did they call Aarón and his team?

Yesica’s sister, Yeli, got in touch with the “El Toque de Aarón” team because she feels that the restaurant has several things to improve: the decor, the dish presentation, and, most critically, their small kitchen is struggling to cope with the high demand of arepas from the customers!

El Toque de Aarón - Chamos
El Toque de Aarón’s team and Chamo’s crew

That’s the dish on COCINA’s incredible new show. Mark your calendars and tune in for an amazing adventure uplifting the Latino community!


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