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Jason Santos recently opened up B&B Fish in Marblehead, a hip new North Shore spot for clam shack cuisine with a touch of inspiration from Santos’s Back Bay Buttermilk & Bourbon restaurant. And with two other highly successful Boston ventures, Abby Lane and Citrus & Salt, Santos has been wowing the area’s restaurant scene for years. 

And he’s been wowing in the kitchen since practically before he can remember. “I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb making aioli,” he says. 

Santos debuts tomorrow in one of his most intensive television roles to date: as Gordon Ramsey’s sous chef for the Blue Team on Hell’s Kitchen. Santos first appeared on the hit Fox television series in 2010 as a contestant, winning the admiration of fans and critics alike for his personality, culinary expertise, and bright blue hair. He won runner up that season, and came back twice as a guest on the show in the past few years. Now, he takes the reins as sous chef beginning tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.

“It was actually more intense than being a contestant for me,” says Santos of his role this season. “There were a ton of moving parts—it’s a giant production. You have to perform at a very high level while standing next to Gordon himself.”

And although he’s always appeared on Hell’s Kitchen’s Blue Team, Santos actually had his signature blue hair eleven years before his first time on the show—when he was in the early days of his culinary career. Santos graduated from Newbury College’s culinary program at 19, and began his career at Tremont 647 and Gargoyles on the Square.

In addition to his Hell’s Kitchen appearances, his larger-than-life personality have won his TV slots on shows like the Today Show, NESN’s Wicked Bites, and Bar Rescue. Santos also debuted his first cookbook, Buttermilk & Bourbon, in 2019.

His Buttermilk & Bourbon empire isn’t finished yet—a third location in Watertown is slated to open later this year. But he speaks humbly about his culinary achievements. “My proudest part is that I still love this business as much as I did the day I walked out of culinary school,” Santos says. “I am consumed by it in a good way.”

Santos currently lived in Woburn with his wife, Thuy, and donates some of his time each year to Share Our Strength, an organization dedicated to educating disadvantaged families on nutrition. One of the most important lessons he’s learned during his career resonates now more than ever: “I’ve learned that you need to be ready to pivot and be able to think quick on your feet,” he says, “in order to keep up with the times.”

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