Scott Conant is a new force in Italian cuisine. Opening the ever classic Scarpetta in Miami and New York in 2008, this iconic restaurateur never fails to impress. Conant’s passion and innovative cuisine have made him a force to be reckoned with. Expanding to Toronto, Los Angeles, and Los Vegas, Conant’s Scarpetta has become a standard by which other Italian restaurants are now held to – a feat not easily accomplished. Growing up in an Italian-American household, it’s no wonder Conant has a natural Italian sensibility that other chefs would envy, as well as a genuinely infectious personality that’s hard to come by in any industry. Host of Food Network’s 24-hour Restaurant Battle, and a recurring judge on Chopped, Conant has become a classic restaurateur with an explosive career. In other words, he’s the definition of a new icon, and at the very least, someone The New Potato simply had to sit down with…
Can you describe what your ideal food day would be? Where would you go?
Those things always depend on what kind of experience I’m going for—an ideal food day could be lunch at the Spotted Pig or dinner at Eleven Madison Park. Those both make amazing food days, but I also love days of family gatherings and home cooked comfort food—whether I’m cooking or not.
What are your favorite places to travel for inspiration? What do you eat there?
My most recent inspirational trip was to Tokyo. I dined at Italian restaurants where Japanese chefs had worked in Italy for extended periods of time. I ate everything, whatever sounded interesting and different.
Where would you like to travel for inspiration that you haven’t been to yet?
Thailand, Portugal, and Malaysia.
As one of the most respected Italian chefs, what should we all know about Italian cuisine? What’s the trick to executing it so well?
Italian cuisine is about simplicity executed well. The reverence Italians hold product in is my starting point for cooking.
What ingredients make everything better? Which do you find overrated? Why?
I happen to love extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper, and garlic. I think tapioca maltodextrin is overrated because I don’t understand the whole powder thing…it makes for a great presentation but as far as creating flavors, I’m not so sure. Perhaps I haven’t done it correctly.