The scenemakers who descend upon Stanton Social on Manhattan's Lower East Side each night get a big surprise from chef Chris Santos: 40 shareable, international plates of transcendent food. The Bristol, RI, native is a Johnson & Wales grad who's cooked at a string of NYC hot spots including Wyanoka, Time Cafe, Mojo and Suba. "He has an imagination and a talent that shine," says the New York Times. "Once word gets out about how good chef Chris Santos's small sharing plates can be, the darling brats may be shouldered aside by determined foodies," writes Gale Greene in New York Magazine.
Nice fridge. Does that cocktail shaker get much of a workout?
Every night. I pour Patron XO Cafe—coffee-flavored tequila—over ice and shake for a minute. It tastes like something from Starbucks.
Only with a kick.
A little one. I have it when I get home after a 12-hour shift. It relaxes you and picks you up at the same time.
You need a lift after a long day.
It's the only time I get to relate to my girlfriend. She waits up for me.
Your girlfriend's an early riser?
She's a fashion designer, and often has to leave at 4 a.m. if there's a photo shoot.
So you eat breakfast alone.
There's no such thing as breakfast for me. An energy bar or an apple is about it.
Then you head for work?
On some days. I live in Park Slope, so I walk to work over the Brooklyn Bridge if it's nice. I take the subway in bad weather.
What about the other days?
I go the gym before work.
For some cardio or yoga?
Like a boxing class or...
No, I spar with up-and-coming pros, usually guys starting out who are still undefeated.
How long have you done this?
Ever since I got to New York. I sparred with Roy Jones, Jr. in 1999 before his big fight at Radio City Music Hall.
He was a great champ. You do stuff like thisbefore pulling your shift at the restaurant?
So far. I go to Gleason's Gym, a hard-core boxing gym.
How many days a week?
Four or five when things are going good. I'm 36 and nursing a bruised rib and torn calf muscle, so it's fewer days right now.
You must eat a lot at work.
There's a lot of tasting to be done. We offer 40-45 items, all composed plates meant to be shared. Most guests order three or four plates, so it's like double the usual kitchen workload every night.
We hear Stanton Social is busy.
We do crazy numbers, even during the week. We serve the full menu from 5 p.m. all the way until the 2 a.m. closing. It's 3 a.m. on weekends.
How big is your kitchen crew?
I have 37 total, with about a dozen working at once. That's why I do so much tasting.
We're glad you haven't burned up those taste buds sampling all the hot sauces in your fridge.
I love spicy food, so I keep about three dozen kinds of hot sauce on hand. I'm in the Hot Sauce of the Month Club, too.
That shirt makes you look like bacon-of-the-month club material, too.
Bacon is my favorite animal. The shirt came from a customer who also likes bacon. She gave me this shirt for Christmas.
Sweet. Watch out for those young guys at Gleason's.
10 Jars of Salsa