Aarón Sánchez is a third-generation cookbook author, but that doesn't mean writing his latest book was easy.

The El Paso-born chef already had two recipe books under his belt when he decided he wanted to write a memoir about growing up the son of a Latina chef at the turn of a monumental century.

“Where I Come From: Life Lessons From a Latino Chef” is one of the featured books at this year's Texas Book Festival, and he'll be in conversation with Statesman reporter Nancy Flores at 3 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity St.

Sánchez calls the book “an inspirational tale, a cautionary tale” about his transformation from the son of a chef to a star chef in his own right. Although he’s most closely associated with "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior," Sánchez is still involved with Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, and he's a frequent guest at food festivals around the country, including the Austin Food and Wine Festival.

Writing such a personal story was “an exercise in self-realization and humility,” he says. “I had to be honest with my depression and trying to navigate the vices that were present when I was coming up as a chef. I had to get over those things personally in order to write them.”

But revealing so much about his “perpetual quest” for happiness means he got to write about the new people in his life and the challenges that gave him the grit, fortitude and gratitude he carries him with him today.

Sánchez’s grandmother Aida Gabilondo wrote “Mexican Family Cooking” in 1986, and his mother, Zarela Martínez, wrote three cookbooks in the 1990s and early 2000s. He has more than 400 cookbooks in his house now, including classics, like “The Joy of Cooking” and “The Art of South American Cooking” by Felipe Rojas-Lombar.

As the most public Latino chef in the country and father of an 8-year-old, Sánchez finds himself with a level of fame his mother and grandmother never achieved, which can lead to its own challenges. “I don’t want to be too isolated, but I find myself retreating sometimes because I need that balance between family, work, self-improvement, physical and mental health.”

His mom offered plenty of advice when he was a young cook, but the most important remains this: “‘Develop your own style,’ she said. Don’t regurgitate your mentor’s techniques. Work with a bunch of different chefs that have different styles and cultural points of view, and then disseminate all that to find your own culinary voice,” he says.

He was on the receiving end of advice for so long but now is the one who is giving it. To contestants in the reality shows, to fans who show up to book signings and to his son. "I tell people, 'Try to approach everyone with the same respect and honesty. You’ll never go wrong.'”

He’s recording his book for the audio version, which will come out later this year. “It’s not easy to have the same energy, inflection and gravity to the words that you have when you write them,” he says. “It’s tedious, but I love it. I’m walking out of this with a better appreciation for oration.”

RELATED: Sean Brock, Aarón Sánchez, Aaron Franklin headline food panels at this year's Texas Book Festival

When he has downtime on the road, Sánchez is reading or watching videos on food history and global cultures. “I’m always trying to spend my time wisely and get even more educated,” he says. “I’m constantly on the hunt for what’s current or new info on things I already know a little about. If I’m on ‘Chopped’ talking about Japanese eggplant, I want to make sure to say something new about it and give a different perspective on it.”

He’ll conclude the book tour around the holidays in his hometown of El Paso, where he’ll celebrate with both sides of his parents’ families, who still live there. “I’m very proud to be Tejano,” he says. His upbringing in what is essentially Northern Mexico is present, not only in his food, with green chiles, sopa seca and a love of flour tortillas, but also his accent. “When I speak Spanish, people know I’m a Northerner."

Sánchez has been on American television for 20 years now, a feat he never considered when he first started cooking.

Initially, saying yes to TV appearances was a way to market his restaurants or cookbooks, but now he sees it as a way to travel into people’s living rooms to give them a personal connection to a culture they either know well or that they know little about.

“I want to transmit aspects of my culture, so if you live in Sioux Falls and you don’t have a Latino neighborhood in your city and these ingredients might seem foreign to you, I can translate that information to you,” he says. “This can lead to this food culture being embraced by so many audiences. When television is used for good, it’s the most powerful thing in the world.”

NEW ON AUSTIN360 RADIO: