Get to know Chopped judge Scott Conant.
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. After 15 years of cooking some of the city’s favorite Italian cuisine, he opened Scarpetta in New York and Miami in 2008. Both received rave critical reviews, an enthusiastic following and established Scott as one of the country’s preeminent Italian chefs. In 2010, he opened Scarpetta Toronto at the Thompson Hotel, Scarpetta Beverly Hills at Montage Beverly Hills and Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. Enoteca at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Scott’s love of cooking began at an early age. Growing up in an Italian-American household, he began taking cooking classes at age 11 and later attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). After graduation, he studied pastry for a year at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany. He returned to New York City to work as a sous chef at The New York Times three-star rated San Domenico, a famed Italian restaurant where Scott externed as a culinary student.
In 1995, Cesare Casella selected him to be chef de cuisine at Il Toscanaccio, an Upper East Side Tuscan restaurant. A year later, Scott went on to revamp two institutions: Barolo in Soho and Chianti on the Upper East Side. When a chance to open a new restaurant presented itself, Scott accepted the position of executive chef at City Eatery. Scott and his modern take on Italian cuisine earned him the attention of New Yorkers and a glowing two-star review from The New York Times in 2000.
In 2001, Scott was approached about opening a restaurant in a quiet, largely undiscovered Manhattan neighborhood called Tudor City. In preparation, he traveled to Italy for an extensive tour where he worked with some of the country’s most celebrated chefs and reconnected with his mother’s relatives in Beneveto. Inspired by his time there, Scott returned to the States with a menu that seamlessly fused the classic dishes of his childhood with his own interpretations of Italian cuisine.
In September 2002, L’Impero opened in Tudor City. Within weeks, the restaurant received a rave three-star review from The New York Times, and Gourmet declared that Scott “raises the roof on the Manhattan school of Italian cooking.” A year later, Scott’s signature pastas appeared on the cover of Food & Wine, and the magazine went on to name Scott one of America’s “Best New Chefs” in 2004. L’Impero received top honors from the James Beard Foundation in 2003, including “Best New Restaurant” in the U.S. and “Outstanding Restaurant Design.” In October 2003, Scott was featured on the cover of Gourmet for its “Chefs Rock” issue, and in March 2004, Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl named L’Impero one of her favorite New York restaurants.
Following the success of L’Impero, Scott went on to open Alto, a sophisticated Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan that offered his interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine. Ready for the next chapter in his career, Scott left L’Impero and Alto to bring his years of experience and learning to a restaurant that is 100 percent his own creation. Scarpetta is that restaurant. An Italian expression that means “little shoe” — or the shape bread takes when used to soak up a dish — Scarpetta represents the pure pleasure of savoring a meal down to the very last taste. The restaurant’s design reflects the chef’s earthy yet modern approach to Italian cuisine.
Scarpetta received adoring three-star reviews from The New York Times and New York Magazine in July 2008, and both publications selected Scarpetta as a top 10 new restaurant of the year. In addition, Scarpetta was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire in November 2008, and received an “Award of Ultimate Distinction” from Wine Enthusiast and a three-star rating from Forbes. The 2009 Zagat Guide included Scarpetta as a “Top Five Newcomer” and a “Top Five Italian Restaurant.” The restaurant received a nomination for Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Foundation in 2009, and was also voted “Best Italian Restaurant” by Time Out New York readers. Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau resort went on to receive a four-star review from The Miami Herald, the highest rating possible.
Scott serves as the host of Food Network’s primetime competition series 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, which premiered in July 2010. He has also been a recurring judge on Food Network’s Chopped since its premiere in January 2009. He has two cookbooks: New Italian Cooking (Random House, 2005) and Bold Italian (Random House, 2008).
Scott lives in Manhattan with his wife, Meltem, and their daughter.