Restaurateur and Chef Jason Santos shares how he decided to become a chef, his go-to coffee order, and his favorite spots in Massachusetts. He also talks about his latest cookbook Simple Fancy!
Lauren – Travel and Write Today: How did you initially decide to become a chef?
Chef Jason Santos: I think I always knew…I can remember being 7 years old, watching Julia Childs and Jacques Pépin, and knowing that’s what I wanted to be.
TWT: I love when you can pinpoint the moment you knew what you wanted to do with the rest of your life.
TWT: Can you tell us about your new cookbook Simple Fancy? I am always looking for new recipes that I can prepare during a busy weeknight! (I am still trying to perfect the Chicken & Waffle Tacos from your cookbook Buttermilk & Bourbon).
JS: Simple Fancy is exactly that, simple recipes that look fancy without the fuss or huge time investment. It’s geared more towards the home cook, looking to elevate their cooking game.
TWT: I am definitely looking to elevate my cooking game!
TWT: I know you grew up in Massachusetts? What are some of your go-to spots in the area?
JS: Since growing up here, I tend to enjoy the places now that I did as a kid, kind of as a full circle. I love the Topsfield fair, and not even sure why, and same with Canobie Lake. Both are kinda terrible (lol) but I still love to relive my childhood.
TWT: That makes sense – there really is something about visiting a place you enjoyed as a child! I have never been to Canobie Lake, but sounds like I should change that…
TWT: What is one of your favorite dishes that you’ve created?
JS: Hands down our Buttermilk Biscuits. I started with no recipe as a guide, and just dumped some flour in a bowl and went from there. I tested them every day for a year, until I believe I created the best biscuit in the history of biscuits.
TWT: Wow, that is dedication. The biscuits are pretty icredible.
TWT: What is your favorite book?
JS: Ironically, I hate to read, I don’t think I have the attention span, and I can’t even remember the last book I read. I do love cookbooks, however, and own 400+. I get more inspired by the pictures than the actual recipes. Do I sound like a child?
TWT: Cookbooks count as books! It’s all about what speaks to you, so just keep leaning towards what inspires you. I love cookbooks too!
TWT: Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
JS: I am all over the place with my music…. Green Day, Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Queen, Maroon 5 and some good fist pumping house music.
TWT: This is a great list. Pearl Jam is on my top artists of all time.
TW: What is your go-to coffee order, and from where?
JS: I am going to sound like a 15-year-old girl, but from Dunkin’ it would be an iced coffee with stevia, almond milk & pumpkin foam, or from Starbucks an iced cold brew with coconut milk, 3 pumps sugar free vanilla, chocolate malt foam.
TWT: Where is your favorite place to watch the sunrise/sunset?
JS: On a lake somewhere in Maine.
TWT: Can you share a memorable moment you’ve had while working in this industry?
JS: Standing next to Gordon Ramsay, while just him and I cooked for Gene Simmons.
TWT: That’s amazing! Now you work with Gordon Ramsay on Hell’s Kitchen!
TWT: What advice would you give to aspiring chefs and restaurateurs?
JS: Just show up, be humble, and let your work ethic speak for itself. Passion and hard work will always pay off!
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