I am the owner and Executive Chef of three wildly popular restaurants located on the lower east side in New York City," The Stanton Social", "Beauty and Essex" and "Vandal".

I am also known for my appearances on the popular Food Network series "Chopped", The Rachel Ray Show, The Today show and The CBS early show. I also appeared in the movie "Hitch", and worked as a consultant on several other films.

I am 3 days away from opening my first restaurant in Las Vegas, Beauty & Essex inside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Proof: http://imgur.com/9TIdh4w

Thanks everyone for the questions, I have to get back to work now but the next time you are in Vegas, I encourage you to check out Beauty & Essex in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. For more info, visit www.beautyandessex.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/beautyandessexlv Twitter: www.twitter.com/beauty_essexlv Instagram: @beautyandessexlv Snapchat: BeautyVegas

Comments: 141 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

vampiresorority32 karma

Who is your favorite Chopped co-star? And tell us why it's Alex.

santoscooks38 karma

I love this! Actually, Alex is my official work wife on set! We spend 12-14 long hours with each other everyday.....cracking each other up, bickering, making up and then starting all over again. I love her!

shaunc22 karma

Hey Chef. It's a bit of an open secret that on Iron Chef, challengers are given a heads-up regarding the mystery ingredient. Is the same true on Chopped, do they get a few minutes to think before they have to go darting into the pantry?

santoscooks62 karma

100% no. In fact, the judges don't even find out the ingredients until right before. Typically the judges get about 30 minutes to look at the basket and figure out if it is too complicated for the allotted time. Recently there was eel and artichoke in an early basket (20 min). You can't properly clean and prep eel and artichoke and still have time to make something in 20 min, so we swapped one of the ingredients out.

But the contestants get their baskets and we start filming, there isn't much time to think!

annieloux19 karma

Is Amanda Freitag being held hostage by Food Network producers? Does she need me to call someone?

santoscooks21 karma

I don't know but now I'm concerned, I'll text her and find out

vxevxb17 karma

If you were a spice, what would you be and why?

santoscooks39 karma

Wow. Um. If I was spice I would be ground ghost pepper because I'm obsessed with all things hot sauce related, and I have the palate to absorb that kind of shit. I put some kind of hot spice on everything...I basically view food in my personal life as a hot sauce delivery system.

ThoseTruffulaTrees13 karma

Hi Chef Santos! You are so fun to watch on chopped! Love the badass persona you bring.

What is your favorite tattoo that you have?

(And if you are actually dating our beloved Alex give us a sign!!)

santoscooks13 karma


This is my favorite tat, lady luck. A carefree gypsy of a woman drinking a glass of red wine while sitting on top of a horseshoe that I got on a Friday the 13th, though ironically I can't really see it since it's on the back of my arm. She's brought me nothing but luck and success ever since.

PolyComForYou11 karma

What's the most disgusting thing you've eaten on chopped?

santoscooks21 karma

Sea Urchin. Can't stand it.

better_stories10 karma

Hey Chris!

Myself and my wife are just about to move to NY, and Beauty and Essex is top of our list to check out.

What's the one menu item we have to try?

Full disclosure: we will be trying more than one... (!)

All the best in Vegas.

santoscooks13 karma

Hard to pick one...try as many as you can.

My favorite though is the roasted bone marrow with the shallot marmalade...maybe my favorite thing to eat period.

itsjlev8 karma

Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings !!!!

santoscooks6 karma

Oh hey JLev!

I_Burned_The_Lasagna10 karma

When I used to watch Chopped it seemed like you all used the word "egregious" constantly. So much so I turned it into a drinking game. If I started watching the show again could I go back to getting drunk or has everyone wised up to the overuse of that word?

santoscooks12 karma

Wow, that must be some drinking game, as the editors love to edit in the word egregious egregiously. Thinking how many shots you have had to take playing that game is getting me drunk right now.

raebma9 karma

Favorite dish to make?

santoscooks28 karma

Chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican Hangover cure, which is made with crispy fried corn tortillas, tossed in a sauce like salsa verde (or any kind of salsa).

Then you can add anything, all kinds of hot sauces, cheese, egg sunny side up, chicken, or really anything you can imagine. I even eat it when I'm not hungover.

rakisak9 karma

What was the best meal you ever ate?

santoscooks19 karma

I don't know that I can really single out one meal, as I've spent the last 30 years of my life eating every day, but I recently had the opportunity to go to SE Asia for the first time, going down dark alleys looking for the very best street food I could find. I can't pin a specific meal, but those 3 weeks were the best 3 weeks of eating in my entire life.

twin_sis8 karma

Congrats on the new restaurants. I'm a huge fan. Do you have a hard time presenting your opinion of the food on Chopped in a constructive way? Has anything been SO bad, you don't want to say anything?

santoscooks26 karma

It certainly can be challenging at times. Usually speaking the food is quite good, even if presentation suffers due to the clock running out. But yes occasionally there is something that just isnt successful and you always need to have a compassion when you are essentially breaking someone's heart in a way. Still I feel being direct, and truthful about what happened is the best route and remind the chef that they need to not let one dish , prepared in a really crazy environment, define who they are as a chef!

jrm200708 karma

What keeps your love for cooking alive? I absolutely love cooking for myself and others and have been told I should take some classes to try to turn it into a career, but feel I would end up resenting it when placed into a job environment where I have to do it all the time.

santoscooks23 karma


Cooking at home and cooking in a restaurant is very different. At this point in my life I spend as much time fixing leaks, analyzing payroll, making sure that the music is not too loud, the lighting is just right, etc. Things they won't teach you in cooking school.

The thing that keeps me going is the team around me and the collaborative effort that goes into making our menu every day. The satisfaction one gets cooking a meal for someone and seeing them truly enjoy it is an internal feeling that you can't learn in any school, and if you really love doing it then you should do it for as many people as you can, either in your personal life or professionally.

ApolloHound7 karma

Chef Santos, what was the strangest ingredient you've seen on chopped?

santoscooks19 karma

Doesn't get much stranger than rocky mountain oysters, which are, of course, bull testicals. My biggest fear however is my hardcore extreme spider phobia, and I have nightmares of cooking in the chopped kitchen and finding tarantulas in there. After seeing spiders served in Cambodia recently, I'm acutely aware that this is a possibility.

DJStrongStyle7 karma

What is the last band you moshed for?

santoscooks11 karma

Great question. Hatebreed at Mayhem Rockstar Energy Festival last summer. Lead singer Jamey Jasta basically threw me into the pit so I had no choice

Squishfish257 karma

If you had to eat fast food where would you go and what would you pick off the menu?

santoscooks17 karma

In-N-Out, 2x4. No lettuce, I don't do greens on my burgers, just tomatoes.

iprefertau6 karma

best pizza in NYC?

santoscooks20 karma

People think I'm crazy when I say this, but there's a little hole in the wall in Penn Station called Don Pepi. Sometimes I'll book a train ticket just as an excuse to get a slice.

orangepeelz5 karma

Hey chef Santos! What are your top 3 places to eat when in LV? They don't even have to be on the Strip. Also, favorite gentlemen's club?

santoscooks12 karma

  1. Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is great (and our new neighbors)
  2. A little off the beaten path, my favorite steak is Chef Barry's Signature Steak at N9ne at the Palms.
  3. And maybe a little cliche, In and Out, since we don't have them on the east coast.

And as far as gentlemen's clubs, I haven't been to all of them yet so I can't pick a favorite!

__snooch4 karma

What's your favorite food related tv show to watch other than your own?

santoscooks15 karma

Believe it or not I don't watch any food TV. After spending 12-14 hours a day surrounded by food, it's kind of the last thing I want to do. I will watch Family Guy or any UFC fights that might be on.

adamzissou3 karma

Even though the NY restaurants have been successful, are you nervous for your first Vegas location?

santoscooks8 karma

Nope. Every new restaurant opening brings a unique set of anxiety, but I feel really confident that Beauty & Essex is the perfect brand for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the look and feel of the hotel and the restaurant are almost scarily well aligned.

The challenge now is that I can't be in every single one of my restaurants every day, which has been my life for the last 20 years. I expect to pick up a ton of frequent flyers miles though, so that's cool.

bosxe3 karma

Hey Chris, who are some of your favorite metal bands, past and current?

santoscooks10 karma

Slayer, Deftones, and of course Black Sabbath.

Captain_of_the_ships2 karma

Hey Chef! I'm a HUGE fan! My girlfriend and I watch you on Chopped ALL the time! We were in NY for spring break and were lucky enough to go to Vandal! So delicious, oh my god. Unfortunately it was a night you weren't there but we got to meet and talk to Jonathan, which was rad. My question for you is what is region of the world influences your cooking the most?? (Bonus question, what's your favorite dish from the region?)

santoscooks6 karma

Jonathan is the man.

Mexico, I travel there often and there's nothing more noble in cooking than a perfectly executed taco. It seems simple, but there's incredible complexity to the art form and I've learned so much from eating tacos on the beach in mexico.

EyeLike_Turtles2 karma

What is your favorite "easy to make" dish?

santoscooks8 karma

Tacos, though there's nothing easy about making them properly

rdt1562 karma

What are some (perhaps easy-ish) tips to elevate my cooking at home?

santoscooks15 karma

Hot sauce. Hot sauce everywhere.

gail_nicole2 karma

Okay first off, now I have to go to Vegas. Beauty & Essex in New York City is my favourite food experience so far in my life.

Now for the question - What gave you the idea to do the Pawn shop as the front for Beauty & Essex?

santoscooks7 karma

The original B&E is located on the Lower East Side of NYC, a traditionally gritty part of NYC. The first idea was to do a vintage bodega that would be a portal into our restaurant. But a grocery store isn't really that sexy...then we started thinking about a pawn shop, and from there we thought we could focus on jewelry and really align it with the neighborhood and feel of the restaurant.

Hipster-Stalin1 karma

First off, I love the Stanton Social. Awesome place!

If you could make one change on Chopped, what would it be?

santoscooks3 karma

I love Stanton Social too, it was my first baby and I can't believe it just turned 11.

If I could change anything on Chopped, I'd go back to all the episodes I competed in and win.