You know Chris Santos as a no-nonsense judge on Chopped, capable of lauding chefs’ stellar use of flavors and flagging their missteps all at once. But when he’s through with tastings at the judges’ table, he’s likely in the kitchen at one of his hot-spot restaurants, including such New York City institutions as The Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex. He’s known for bringing bold flavors and innovative dining concepts to hordes of visitors at his eateries, thanks to his craveable takes on dressed-up comfort foods and his penchant for striking presentations. Now, though, Chris is going beyond the restaurant scene and delivering some of his most-beloved dishes to his fans near and far with his first-ever cookbook.
Just last week Chris published Share: Delicious and Surprising Recipes to Pass Around Your Table, which features more than 100 can-do recipes for anytime entertaining (check out a few of them right here). The concept focuses on share-able dishes, of course, and as Chris told us: “The book was inspired by my love for communal eating. It’s how we serve food in our restaurants and how I serve food in my own home.” We caught up with him to learn more about his vision for Share as well as his advice for easy, enjoyable hosting. Read on below to hear more from Chris, then at the bottom find out how to be entered to win a copy of Share for free from FN Dish.
Tell us about your new book. Where did the inspiration come from to create Share? What kinds of dishes can we expect?
Chris Santos: The book was inspired by my love for communal eating. It’s how we serve food in our restaurants and how I serve food in my own home. I think it’s a great way to bring people together in a more social way than serving people individual appetizers, entrees and desserts. What you can expect is a wide spectrum of dishes spanning influences from around the world. The common denominator, though, is that all of these dishes can be shared and made for both large and small groups.
Why was it important to focus on the element of sharing here? What did you hope to accomplish with that theme?
CS: My favorite way to entertain at home and create that really great environment of energy is to start the party with a bunch of appetizers on the counter or maybe in an outdoor area. Eventually bringing everyone around a table for larger format dishes just brings a great energy to dining experiences.
What do you think share-able recipes allow for that individual-serving dishes might not?
CS: The idea is that everyone has a tasting of the dish, and you can serve more dishes over the course of an evening.
You write in the book that at your restaurants, “Almost every part of a dish is made ahead and pulled together at the last minute. You should apply this ‘secret’ to how you entertain at home, too.” What are a few of your favorite ways to prep ahead, both at the restaurant and at home?
CS: I like to prep everything ahead as much as possible, but of course not too far ahead of time. Marinades, salsas, relishes and finishing sauces can be made a day or even two in advance. If you are having a party on Saturday evening, you could start preparing a few things on Thursday and a few on Friday. That way, when the day of the party comes and you have to start preparing everything else, such as your house and making sure everything is ready, you have more time to focus on those factors.
What’s the first recipe a reader should make when he or she receives the book?
CS: The Chipotle Shrimp that’s featured on the back cover and the first page of the book. This has been a dish that has been with me since the ’90s, actually! It’s a universal dish that can be served hot straight off the grill in the summertime, cooked on the stove in the colder months and even served chilled as a shrimp cocktail. It’s always a crowd-pleaser, and it never fails to be a huge hit at any dinner party I have ever thrown.
You can purchase a copy of Share right now, or you can enter to win a copy for free from FN Dish. We’re giving away one copy to five lucky, randomly selected fans. To be entered to win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling us your favorite dish to make for a party.
So, tell us: What’s your favorite dish to make for a party? Please leave a comment below.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Sweepstakes ends at 5:00 p.m. ET on February 22, 2017. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Television Food Network, G.P., 1180 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.