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