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Interview with Chef Scott Conant at the Barilla event at Scarpetta

Last week at the Barilla Whole Grain Pasta event we were treated to a delectable lunch by Scarpetta’s own, Scott Conant.

Scott Conant Scarpetta Barilla

Scott is a renowned chef with restaurants from Miami to Las Vegas and New York to now, Toronto! He’s even been on my favourite show (which sadly doesn’t air in Canada), Martha, several times. I DID get to ask him about meeting her and knowing her as she is my idol, and thankfully he told me she’s awesome! I think he was impressed I could walk him through one of his appearances on her show a few years ago when he made an asparagus soup…I love asparagus…almost motion for motion ;).

While I ran out of time to sit down with Scott at the time, he was kind enough to answer my questions via email and  I did get to ask him a few questions during the event and chat briefly afterwards, he is such a sweetie!

Here are my questions and his answers. You can follow Scott on twitter at: @ConantNYC

  1. In the more health conscious era we’re now in, how do you balance rich tastes with healthy choices?
  1. Extracting full flavours from products has to be paramount. For example, the butternut squash used in the Barilla whole grain penne recipe served at today’s lunch, caramelizing the squash allows the flavours to really come out compared to boiling them
  1. You’ve got a world of experience in food and restaurants, why Toronto?
  1. There’s a ton of cross-over between Toronto and the other markets that I’m in. Canadians are constantly in the cities where my other restaurants are, so it made perfect sense that Toronto would be the first city to have as my first international destination.
  1. When you first came to Ontario you raved about the home grown assets (fruits, veggies, meats and wine). Which is your favourite and how do you incorporate it into your menu?
  1. We try to localize Scarpetta Toronto as much as possible using local produce and foods. The salad we ate at today’s event is called the ‘100km Salad’ because everything was sourced from within 100km of the restaurant. It’s meant to speak to the importance of being local and sustainable, and I think speaks to the quality of this restaurant.
  1. You studied pastry in Munich, how does your time there influence you today?
  1. Cooking experiences and the application of cooking aren’t necessarily separate. It all goes into the creative pot and we pick out each piece as we go along, but people may not see that application directly – they may see or experience an abstract version of prior experiments in a subtle manner.
  1. You have restaurants all over, where do you spend the most time and why?
  1. I spend the most time in NYC – that’s where I live and that’s where my family is.
  1. You’ve been featured in Food & Wine, Dine TO, radio and more. What was your most exciting “Oh my, I’m really doing this” moment?
  1. In 1996, I got my first Diner’s Journal hit in the New York Times written by Ruth Reichel. That was the moment I remember walking down the street and thought, “Holy crap. I’m not crazy. People actually like this stuff.” That is when I realized I could do this.
  1. What’s your favourite junk food treat that no one would expect?
  1. Reduced fat, extra chunk, Skippy peanut butter. I’ll eat it straight from the jar. Once I start – I can’t stop!

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