The New York Culinary Scene
One of New York’s most beloved and respected chefs, Scott Conant brings a deft touch and unwavering passion to creating food that is unexpected and soulful. This year marks his return to the culinary scene with the opening of Scarpetta in New York City’s Meatpacking District and Miami’s Fontainebleau resort.
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
Batali blazed the trail and Italian food is more popular than ever.
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