Longtime Judge Chris Santos Opens Up About The Future Of Chopped - Exclusive

For all the foodies and restaurant aficionados out there, Chris Santos is the culinary mastermind behind the well-known, star-studded restaurant concepts Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex. For everyone else, he's one of the OG judges of arguably everyone's favorite cooking competition, "Chopped," on Food Network. He's been tasting mystery basket challenges and helping make chefs' dreams come true since the show's very first season back in 2009. Nearly 15 years and more than 50 seasons later, Santos is still a fixture of the show — and he's even competed himself alongside his fellow judges several times.

After hundreds of episodes and countless dishes consumed — some better than others, to put it gently — one could hardly blame Santos if his taste buds needed a break. The chef also has a full plate (pun intended) with the opening of Stanton Social Prime, a revival of Santos' flagship New York City eatery, now delighting the crowds of Las Vegas with whimsical, show-stopping dishes that could only come from the creative mind of a "Chopped" judge. With that in mind, we asked Santos recently if he had any plans to call it quits with the show after all these years.

Unsurprisingly, the answer was a resounding no. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Santos dished all about his love and loyalty to "Chopped" and his hopes for the future of the show in years to come.

Chris Santos on the staying power of Chopped

There's no doubt that "Chopped" has earned a special place in the lexicon of classic and memorable food television. The show has a lasting legacy, and it's one that Chris Santos is proud to be a part of. "We are 700 or 800 episodes in at this point — it's wild," he told Tasting Table. And yet, he added, "Every time we get renewed, we pinch ourselves." Regardless of the shock and awe that comes with the opportunity to film yet another season alongside his fellow judges and lifelong friends, Santos says he does see a long future ahead for "Chopped." "I'd like to think that we're the 'Jeopardy' of cooking shows and that we're never going to go away," he said.

Santos admitted that the show has had to evolve to make this possible, and in "the last couple of years, the show's been sprinkling in more and more guest chefs and younger chefs." While that draws a mixed response from the most staunch loyalists — "some people just want the old gang that's been there forever" — Santos told us he prefers "mixing it up because it gives a different kind of chemistry to each show." And whether he's at the judges' table with new faces or throwing it back with other original cast members, Santos says he loves "Chopped" and he's in it for the long haul. "I love my fellow judges. I love learning," he said, adding, "I definitely am not calling it quits ... As long as the show will have me, I will happily keep going back."

As of right now, Food Network has yet to announce the renewal and release date of the next season, but there's no reason to believe there won't be new mystery baskets, race-against-the-clock fails, and deliciously successful dishes in our future. And Santos will be at the table ready to taste it all.

Click here to learn more about and make reservations at Stanton Social Prime at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.