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Santos' signature dish helps Blue Team win on Week 1 of "Hell's Kitchen"

Chef Santos' promo photo for "Hell's Kitchen"
Chef Santos' promo photo for "Hell's Kitchen"

Jason Santos, executive chef at Gargolyes on the Square, survived Round 1 of “Hell’s Kitchen” earlier this week (congrats, Jason!), and his signature dish, presented during the first part of the show, helped the Blue Team win that challenge (a one-on-one competition). Next Tuesday he’ll host another party for Round 2 and will be joined by four cast members: Fran, Nilka, and Sal, all from New Jersey, and Jason, from Atlanta. Make your reservations soon! The show airs June 8 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Q. The show glossed over your signature dish in the first challenge. What was it?

Grilled hanger steak over corn salad, black truffle, and nasturtium. It was the most visually amazing dish I’ve ever done. Most of the others presented simpler dishes, like chicken wings. There was a good shot of it when the domes where lifted off the plates earlier.

Q. Is it on the regular Gargolyes’ menu?

From time to time.

Q. How did you feel getting assigned the Caesar salad prep, table-side,  in the dining room?

Psyched! The first night, it hardly ever goes will in the kitchen. I got a bye that night, I got out of the kitchen.

[NOTE: Jason had a nice 10-second cameo behind the salad prep cart, as the patrons were waiting – a long time – for appetizers to appear. He asked two customers “Is this your first time here?” and answered “Me, too!”]

Q. How did the pace in the kitchen strike you, as an executive chef?

.Really slow…..I figured it would happen, it’s never a smooth night. Plus there’s a ton of editing. We had 24 hours to memorize 16 dishes, all the ingredients and the preparation. The way we cook in “Hell’s Kitchen” is different from the way most of us cook. In “Hell’s Kitchen,” it’s brigade-style, but in most kitchens, everyone is assigned a station, like meat, and that’s all you do. You have to go to Gordon and present him with the exact plate, or you do it over. We didn’t sleep the night before [NOTE: The cast kept getting awakened about every 15 minutes to attend a video demonstration.], everyone’s nervous…..

Q. There weren’t many shots of you on this episode. I guess that’s a good thing!

Yeah, I guess I’ll get more face time in Week 2. I did not cook once to get on that show. It was all personality.

Q. Some of the chefs looked like amateurs, burning the pasta twice, not knowing when the salmon would be ready…..

Here’s an unfortunate thing: They do things, like turn your oven off. Everyone can cook in their own kitchen, but in Gordon’s kitchen, you cook on a French flat top, which you can’t turn up or down, and it’s always on high, approximately 1800 degrees. It’s hard to cook on, and things burn easily. Plus we’re tired, we didn’t memorize the menu….

Q. What was it like, watching yourself on TV?

I don’t enjoy watching myself. I watched a few pre-show interviews and listened to some radio interviews, but I had to walk into my living room and listen.

Q. How was the party on Tuesday?

Amazing! We had 300 people here.


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