Ximena Saenz: From Cooking Shows to Social Media Fame

Ximena Sáenz is a 40-year-old Argentinian television host, businesswoman, author, and social media personality, probably best known as the host of the TV cooking show “Cocineros Argentinоs” or “Argentine Chefs.”

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Early life

Ximena Sáenz was born on 11 June 1983, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She wrote on her website that she loved cooking as far back as she could remember, but that no one in her family is a professional chef. Her mom’s cooking inspired Ximena the most; she remembers moments when she made her first lemon pie and baked her first batch of cookies. According to her interview with LA NACION, Ximena’s father, uncle, and mother owned and operated a hardware store called Casa Sáenz, in Monte Grande in Buenos Aires It was opened in 1968, and her father’s death in 2008 left her mother and a now-ill uncle to run it. Ximena told NutFruit.org that she was fascinated by a walnut tree near her childhood home as a kid, which looked like a mix of a butterfly and a human brain to her. Additionally, she was fascinated by cracking them and saving the shells to play with. Moreover, shelled walnuts were unavailable or costly in her area.

Early education, source of career

After matriculating from high school, everyone expected Ximena to do something related to cooking. However, she was scared of working in the male-dominated industry, and was unsure of her career prospects, so she enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) to study image and sound design. However, her love for preparing food became prevalent, and she concurrently started attending the Argentine Institute of Gastronomy.

Ximena revealed to Clarín that she was always in charge of catering while studying, which made her want to learn more about cooking. Additionally, she never felt fulfilled with cinematography, as she missed doing things that didn’t involve filming equipment or using a computer.

Career

Ximena started working in restaurants and hotels at 19, and continued for some time. She worked at Dashi, Hotel Vista Sol, and the Restaurant of the Evita Museum; Ximena described some environments as hostile and rude, and admitted that she sometimes felt harassed. However, the sexual jokes and comments about female bodies from male chefs made her develop a thick skin, and learn to respond in kind. Ximena also worked in advertising for several years.

She learned much about communication in both workplaces, a skill that translated well when she debuted in the TV cooking series “Argentine Chefs” in 2009 on the TV Pública channel. She confessed to Clarín that her goal was to combine cooking and cinematography, and work behind the camera. However, the owners of the catering company that she worked for were friends with producers, who asked them if they knew of a young chef interested in hosting.

Ximena spent about 12 years co-hosting the show with cook Guillermo Calabrese and others; the series won the 2013 Tato Award for the Best TV Program on the Service. Ximena said that her goal was to promote home-cooked meals and instruct newcomers and experienced chefs alike. She also taught classes, wrote columns, and collaborated with several brands during her time on TV. She left for an undetermined period in December 2020, citing needing a break and a change of pace.

Returning as a host

TV Pública relaunched the series with a slightly different format in August 2022, entitled “Cocineros y cocineras argentios” or “Argentine chefs and (female) cooks” to include both genders. The broadcasting schedule was unchanged, but the show had new co-hosts and guests. Sadly, less than a year after it premiered, in April 2023, Guillermo died from cardiac arrest, so the show lost one host. Ximena praised him for finding a way to simplify cooking for people at home. She also expressed disbelief at Guillermo’s early death; he was only 61, and appeared to be in good health.

Other TV appearances

Ximena also hosted “Sobremesa,” a talk show primarily focused on interviews with chefs, aired on Argentina’s Utilísima and Fox Life channels. Sobremesa translates to ‘upon the table’ and refers to the Spanish tradition of talking while resting after a meal. Moreover, she was a guest in programs such as “Cocina Fácil” or “Easy Cook,” “3 minutos” or “3 minutes,” and “Tu vida más simple” or “Your simpler life” on the same channels.

Furthermore, in 2021, Ximena starred in “El gran Premio de la Cocina” or “The Great Cooking Prize” cooking competition series on Channel 13. According to Ximena’s IMDb profile, her fans could also spot her in the audience, or listen to her advice in talk shows such as “Pura Química” or “Pure Chemistry” in 2014, “Este es el show” or “This is the show” in 2015, “Hoy nos toca” “Today it’s our turn” in 2017, and “Nunca es tarde” or “It’s never too late” in 2018.

Ximena attended the Martín Fierro Award and Tato Award ceremonies in 2015, then returned for Martín Fierro Award presentations in 2016 and 2017.

Cookbooks

Ximena wrote on her website that cooking is an exchange of flavors and knowledge for her, similar to gift-giving. Thus, preparing a dish or the whole menu is a great excuse to meet people, or enjoy things alone. Consequently, she published two books with the “Argentine Chefs” team of hosts; “La cocina de todos los días” or “Everyday cooking” at some point in the early 2010s and “Todos somos cocineros argentinos” or “We are all Argentine chefs” in 2014. She also published two cookbooks, “Apuntes de Cocina” or “Cooking Notes” with Editorial Planeta and “La hora del té” or “Tea time” with Editoria Periplo.

Instagram and YouTube

Ximena shares her cooking tips and promotes her businesses and TV show on her Instagram account ximena_saenz, on which she’s amassed over 641,000 followers. She also uses it to recommend books for cooks, including “Mostrador Santa Teresita” or “Santa Teresa Counter” by Fernando Trocca, “Dining In” by Alison Roman, “Farinelli” by Marina Bissone and Jo Pimoretti, and “Ripe” by Nigel Slater.

Her YouTube channel @XimenaSaenzok remains a part of her online business, although she stopped uploading in 2021. Ximena has amassed over 14,000 subscribers by demonstrating beginner-friendly recipes such as rice with chorizo and blood sausage, homemade Oreo cookies, French fries, and rolls made with almonds, coconut and orange.

First restaurant

In November 2021, Ximena opened her first restaurant, Casa Sāenz Botánico, in Buenos Aires. It offered her favorite meals and foods that she cooked live on TV, and was promoted with the tagline and her motto, ‘La cocina está viva’ or ‘The kitchen is alive.’ Ximena told LA NACION that opening her restaurant was the reason she was absent from “Argentine Chefs” that year, and that she wouldn’t have returned without the improvements that the network introduced. Presenting Narda Lepes as a new co-host was the deciding factor, as Ximena wanted to work with her, and even dreamed of asking her to work in her restaurant. Her restaurant’s name was based on the store her family runs. Moreover, she chose ‘casa,’ meaning ‘house,’ because people learn to cook and eat at home. Ximena added that her restaurants have more women staff than men, but it happened naturally.

She also started involving more walnuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts in her dishes after 2020, when she tried the tastiest chocolate in 37 years, and couldn’t believe that it didn’t contain butter.

Second restaurant

According to El Cronista, on 5 February 2022, Ximena opened her second restaurant, Sáenz Belgrano House, in the quiet corner of the Belgrano neighborhood of Buenos Aires. She said that it was her pleasure to open a place that feels like home in a society focused on intensity. She aimed to offer simple, traditional food that all generations can eat together, but also advance from the carnivore diet that Argentine people prefer. Ximena offered meat-based and vegetarian menus, various desserts, and seasonal pastry options. She told El Cronista that she had to learn much about administration to run Casa Sāenz Botánico. Thus, she partnered with excellent restaurant managers this time, to focus on cooking.

 

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Those partners also proposed Belgrano, as they spotted that the neighborhood had a high population density but needed more restaurants offering food at late lunch or dinner. Ximena also concluded that she had better sales making signature dishes than cooking food that sells better, but doesn’t resonate with her.

Moreover, in collaboration with Centro Cultural Kirchner or The Kirchner Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires, Ximena opened Piso 9, a cultural space where people can try Argentine cuisine. She told Clarín in 2022 that her favorite restaurant was Rotisería Miramar; her favorite dish there was the oxtail casserole.

Websites

Ximena has an official website, www.XimenaSaenz.com. On it, she shares links to resources, primarily videos on her social media profiles. She also posts dedicated recipes for sweet and salty foods with ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and pictures of the result. Furthermore, Ximena created an online platform, Fuegos, for the Cont.ar television program and eponymous website, in which she showed Argentine gastronomy through several presentations or programs.

Husband Martin Sabater

Ximena married businessman Martin Sabater in 2016. He is active on his Instagram account, martinsabater, on which he noted that he runs Sabater HNOS, a factory for producing soap products. He’s the third generation of soap makers, asd the factory was founded in 1937. Martin also launched a digital printing company, AP7 Arte Digital.

They have a daughter, Nerolí, born on 25 February 2018, with whom Ximena lives in a house in the Villa Urquiza neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Her daughter also enjoys cookingplaying with goats at the Valle de Goñi farm in the Cañuelas province of Buenos Aires, dressing up, and Japanese cuisine. Nerolí inherited her curly hair from her father.

However, in Ximena’s LA NACION interview from May 2022, she admitted that she separated from him during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. She only said that she ‘she went through a wave of emotions and that it was difficult.’ In Ximena’s interview with Infobae, she explained that Nerolí spends equal time at her father’s house, and that they were on good terms. However, she never mentioned divorcing Martin.

Physical characteristics

Ximena has dark brown hair with signature short, side-swept bangs and dark brown eyes. She is 5ft 7ins (1.7m) tall, and weighs about 128lbs (58kgs). Her prominent facial features include downturned eyes and crow’s feet, i.e., wrinkles on the corners of her eyes.

Net worth

Ximena has a net worth of close to $2 million, primarily from running two restaurants and being a TV show host. She’s been sponsored by brands Essen, Santa Rosa, Oliovita, and KILLKA. Furthermore, shortly after she opened her second restaurant, Chevrolet sponsored her with the Equinox car.

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