Chris Santos, judge on Chopped and Chopped Junior

Photo by: David Lang ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

David Lang, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Chris Santos got his first job at the age of 13, washing dishes at a small restaurant in his hometown of Bristol, R.I. He admired the tough, confident chefs who surrounded him in the kitchen, and decided immediately that he wanted to pursue cooking as a career. He enrolled in Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., and, upon graduating, traveled around Europe and the United States to better understand different cultural cuisines. Early in his career, Chris spent time at Boston’s French-inspired Cranebrook Restaurant and Tearoom, and, upon his arrival in New York, began cooking at the Lafayette street institution Time Café.

He was appointed executive chef at the young age of 23, which is when he began his “self-taught” education that has led him to his approach and style today. He served as executive chef at Suba and was chef and partner at Wyanoka before opening The Stanton Social in New York’s Lower East Side in 2005. At Stanton Social, Chris takes an imaginative approach to small plate-style cuisine, serving bold-flavored, playful dishes that draw from the neighborhood’s culinary ethnicities (Latin, Asian and Eastern European). Chris also opened Beauty and Essex, his biggest restaurant to date, in December 2010. In 2017, he released his first cookbook, Share: Delicious and Surprising Recipes to Pass Around Your Table.

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Amanda Freitag Bio

Amanda Freitag is a judge on Chopped, has battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and she competed for the title of America's Next Iron Chef. When she was growing up in New Jersey, Amanda's passion for food was fostered by everyone from her grandparents to her high school home economics teacher. They encouraged her to pursue a cooking career and to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. After she graduated from culinary school, Amanda's first position in a New York City kitchen was as rotissier and garde manger at Vong under the guidance of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It was there that she was introduced to marrying French technique with Southeast Asian ingredients and flavors. In 1994, Amanda began working with Chef Diane Forley at Verbena, where she rose quickly through the ranks to become the restaurant's chef de cuisine. Forley taught Amanda the importance of using local, organic ingredients and introduced her to the Union Square Greenmarket. During her time at Verbena, Amanda realized how much she had yet to learn about the culinary world, and in 1999 she traveled extensively through France and Italy to explore the bountiful markets and progressive restaurant scenes. While in Paris, she spent two weeks working under Chef Alain Passard at his venerable Arpège restaurant. While her time there was short, the lessons she learned were life-changing. At Arpège, Passard insisted on the freshest ingredients, so there was nothing left in the walk-in refrigerators at the end of service besides butter. This eye-opening experience helped Amanda to further develop her deep appreciation of superlative ingredients and the flavors of the Mediterranean region. Upon returning to New York, Amanda worked at some of the city's most-popular restaurants, including Cesca, where she cooked alongside Tom Valenti as his chef de cuisine and earned two stars from The New York Times. Following Cesca, Amanda accepted the position of executive chef at Gusto in the West Village, where her food was met with critical acclaim. In January 2008, Amanda took over as the executive chef at The Harrison in Tribeca. Over the three years that she helmed the kitchen, The Harrison received numerous accolades from local and national media, including a two-star review from The New York Times. Amanda's first cookbook, The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef's Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking, was released in September 2015. When she is not in the kitchen, Amanda enjoys traveling the world and collecting restaurant menus to add to her ever-growing collection.

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Marcus Samuelsson Bio

Marcus Samuelsson is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author. He appears frequently as a judge on Chopped. Find out more on Food Network.

Aarón Sánchez Bio

Aarón Sánchez is chef-partner of Johnny Sánchez, with locations in Baltimore and New Orleans. He is a judge on Food Network's hit series Chopped and the host of Cooking Channel's Emmy-nominated Taco Trip. He is also the host of two Spanish-language TV series on Fox Life: 3 Minutos con Aarón and Motochefs. Aarón's passion, commitment and skills have placed him among the world's leading contemporary Latin chefs. Celebrated by critics and contemporaries alike, Aarón has won a James Beard Award for Television Studio Program and has appeared at the White House as a guest chef. He has also starred on multiple Food Network shows, including Guilty Pleasures, Best.Ever, Heat Seekers, Chefs vs. City, Best Thing I Ever Ate and Next Iron Chef. In addition to being a chef, restaurateur and television personality, Aarón has written two cookbooks. His first, La Comida del Barrio, was published in May 2003. His second, Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, was released in October 2011. Aarón has also designed a line of cookware products in collaboration with IMUSA and is a spokesperson for its Global Kitchen line. Aarón works with many charitable organizations. He is a chef ambassador for WhyHunger and Food Bank NYC, both leaders in the movement to end hunger and poverty. He is also a chef mentor for Chefs Move!, a scholarship program whose mission is to diversify kitchen leadership by providing minority applicants the opportunity to train up and become leaders in restaurant kitchens and in their communities. Aarón's creativity extends beyond the kitchen. He is a partner at Daredevil Tattoo in New York City, a world-famous shop and home to the country's premier tattoo museum. Aarón is an avid music lover; he enjoys cooking to the sounds of Alabama Shakes, Amos Lee, Lenny Kravitz and The Cure.

Marc Murphy Bio

Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he'll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington, D.C., Rome and Genoa — "and that's before I turned 12," he’ll explain. This dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine, though as a teenager this was not his first passion. When the reality hit that he didn't have the funds to become a professional racecar driver, Marc followed his brother to the Institute of Culinary Education. After graduation he apprenticed at restaurants in France and Italy before returning to New York, where he landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan's Prix Fixe. He stayed there for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Brennan’s Sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak. Eager to return to Europe, Marc flew to Paris and landed a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for one-and-a-half years. Afterward, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where Executive Chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Marc's skills that he personally made arrangements for him to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once he returned to the States. Marc still considers Portay to be his greatest teacher. "Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most-vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation," he recalls. Following Le Cirque, Fortunato tapped him to work as a sous chef at Layla, Drew Nieporent's Middle Eastern fantasy in Tribeca, where he met consultant Georges Masraff. When Masraff joined forces to open Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, he recruited Marc to serve as executive chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from The New York Times, Marc headed uptown to serve as executive chef of La Fourchette, where NYT critic Ruth Reichl awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his "open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad ... looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir." In March 2004 Marc opened his first solo enterprise with Landmarc [Tribeca], which won rave reviews both for its eclectic French and Italian menu as well as its highly untraditional wine list. Following its success, Marc opened Ditch Plains in the West Village in 2006 serving casual, beach-style cuisine such as lobster rolls, fish tacos and the infamous ditch dog, as well as other comfort food favorites. In 2007 Marc was given the opportunity to open another Landmarc restaurant in the pres­tigious Time Warner Center, where he brought his bistro-style cuisine midtown. In October 2013 Marc opened Kingside at the Viceroy New York hotel on New York's iconic West 57th Street, serving his interpretation of New American cuisine. Marc's restaurants now fall under the Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy name, where he acts as executive chef and owner. In addition to the restaurants, Marc also heads up the company's catering division, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, where his signature style of accessible contemporary cuisine transcends the boundaries of what is offered in his restaurant locations. Today Marc's involvement in the industry moves beyond the restaurants as well, with a regular role as a judge on Food Network's top-rated hit Chopped as well as appearances on other hit series such as Guy's Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay and Worst Cooks in America. Marc also appears on The Rachael Ray Show and The Today Show, among others. He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp, as well as a member of the Food + Finance High School's Industry Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. In 2012 Marc joined the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States. Marc's debut cookbook, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking, was released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2015.

Maneet Chauhan Bio

Maneet Chauhan grew up cooking in India and, after studying hotel administration, she now appears as a frequent judge on Chopped. Find out more on Food Network.

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