The season finale of Hell's Kitchen aired last night and unfortunately, Boston's own Jason Santos did not emerge victorious, losing out to one-time love interest Holli Ugalde. We caught up with Santos about Holli, the other Jason, and his plans for total television domination.
How are you holding up today?
Tired! I probably had a few dozen drinks last night and I’ve been up early for the past few days doing press. I'm great, though! I never thought losing could feel so good! We had over 400 people last night: the mayor, a police detail, it was amazing. I was a little concerned that they’d edit it to make me look badly, but I looked stellar. The only awkward thing about the party was that right before I lost, I literally had Jasper White and Ken Oringer rubbing each shoulder saying “You got this.” I don't mind, though. Holli's a great girl, but I could have beat her.
If you had to do it all over again, would you put Jason on your team for the final service?
I think I would. He’s not Alain Ducasse, but I think he's a pretty solid cook. I’d probably switch stations up, put Ben on meat and Jason on fish. The thing about that final meal is that there were a lot of parameters the audience didn't see: no braises, nothing premade. You’re very, very limited. My food is not necessarily simple by nature, so what I served was a little different. Part of me wishes I had stayed a little more true to my style. Gordon Ramsay treats it like a race, but I wish I had gone a little slower.
What was it like watching the show? Did anything surprise you?
I didn’t realize the whole Holli and I story was going to be such big news. It was like 30 seconds in a hot tub. You know, it's TV, but he producers were saying “there’s never been love in Hell’s Kitchen.” I’m like “love?” Now people are asking me if I'm moving to London with her, if I'm going to adopt her son. I mean, I can barely take care of my two fish! She’s a nice lady, but we’re not together, though I’d probably hook up with her again if she was in town.
What’s next for you? Back in May, you told us that you did Hell’s Kitchen because you wanted to be on TV and you want your own show.
My short term goal is sleep, my long term goal is the presidency. Between those two goals, I’ve never felt something more strongly than my desire to be on TV. I do want to open my own restaurant someday, but right now, I’m going to commit the next twelve to sixteen weeks of my life to getting on TV.
What would your dream show be like?
I don’t want a boring cooking show. I want it to be more personality-driven and variety-oriented. I’d love to do one where I go to the market and then show people creative ways to make meals. I hate to use the Rachael Ray analogy, but I like how her show isn’t just straight cooking: she has guests and she goes to restaurants. I don’t want to insult people, but I’d be good at that. The dream is something like Anthony Bourdain, but he's got that niche pretty well sewn up. Guy Fieri is like my long-lost brother. Something like his show would be amazing.