The New York Culinary Scene

Batali blazed the trail and Italian food is more popular than ever.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Does Mario Batali dominate the conversation?

Scott Conant: I mean Mario, I think he’s- he’s really kind of blazed the trail. I think people like Tony May and Pete Longo blazed the trail in the beginning, and then Mario- guys like Mario, and Joe and Lydia Bastianich as well, one of the pioneers. I- you know, I’ve- I’ve never really thought about trying to be that person. I just wanna do what I love, which is- that’s my- that’s the approach. It’s about-- you know, for me it’s about goodness, and whatever- if it resonates with people, that’s- obviously, I wanna make customers happy. So that’s what- that’s what it’s meant to be about. It’s not- I’m not trying to become an iconic personality. I don’t think I- I-- it’s too much responsibility. <laugh>.

Question: What’s your next project?

Scott Conant: Well, I just had a book come out called “Bold Italian,” and I’m kind of launching it at the same time as a restaurant that I’m doing on 14th and 9th, which is on the meat-packing strip.  It’s on the historical Gansevoort Market area.  It’s gonna be called Scarpetta.  Scarpetta in Italian is- you know when food is so good and it’s not even- it’s not even an- an Italian thing-- all cultures.  You grab a piece of bread and you kind of sop up what’s on the plate.  The word for that in Italian is “scarpetta;” it means little shoes.  It’s kind of the- the- the- the- you know, the- your fingers kind- your hand looks like a little shoe, I guess, when you’re picking-- you know Italians are so clever <laugh>.  But Scarpetta- hopefully the food is good enough everybody grabs a piece of- piece of bread and makes a scarpetta.  That’s the intention.

Question: Are we experiencing an Italian food renaissance?

Scott Conant:  Probably over the last-- you know I’ve lived in New York for 20 years now, and I feel like it’s always-- you know there’s more people doing Italian food now than ever- absolutely.  It’s really- it’s fascinating, and I think it’s wonderful.  I mean there’s all good things.  Joe- Jason Denton [ph?] and his brother Joe just opened up Bar Milano on 24th and 3rd.  Like, who would’ve thought there’s a fine-dining restaurant on 24th and 3rd, and it’s- and it’s fantastic; it’s fantastic.  So it’s all good.

Recorded on: 03/24/2008