Chef Scott Conant
Meet our Featured Chef: Scott Conant Executive Chef/Owner Since the very beginning, Scott Conant has shown a single-minded determination to understand the full spectrum of Italian cuisine. From his years of mastering alta cucina at San Domenico to his explorations of cucina rustica in the trattorias of the Italian countryside, Conant has sought to surround himself with a diversity of perspectives to better inform his personal style. As a result, Conant’s cooking strikes a fine balance that incorporates his own element of American ingenuity. His goal has been to dedicate his comprehensive vision to his own restaurant—an opportunity that at last presents itself with the long-awaited L’Impero. Scott Conant was first introduced to the pleasures of good food as a boy growing up in Litchfield County, Connecticut. His father’s parents owned a potato farm in Maine, where Conant learned to appreciate honest New England cuisine. His mother’s father spent afternoons with Conant cultivating his garden, and evenings sharing the authentic Neapolitan cooking of his heritage. Beginning with cooking classes at a local community center at 11, Conant enrolled in a trade school for culinary arts at 15, and was encouraged to further his education at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) two years later. On his requisite externship from the CIA, Conant went to work at New York City’s famed San Domenico, where chef Paul Bartolotta’s creative and classically rooted cuisine had a decisive impact on the young chef. Upon earning his degree from the CIA, Conant was hired at the Hotel Bayerisher Hof in Munich, Germany. Though Italian cuisine was his first love, Conant took the opportunity to learn the patissier station, mastering the intricacies of German pastry. After a year abroad, he returned to San Domenico, where he went to work under new chef Theo Schoenegger. Conant spent two years there as sous chef, coming into his own as a leader in the kitchen, and served as part of a team that earned the restaurant three stars from the New York Times. In 1995 chef Cesare Casella tapped him to be chef de cuisine at Pino Luongo’s Il Toscanaccio. Casella, widely considered a master of rustic Tuscan fare, helped to further develop and simplify Conant’s cooking. At the same time, Conant paid close attention to the owner, learning the details of running a restaurant from the famed restaurateur. In 1996, Conant took on the task of revamping and redirecting Soho restaurant institution Barolo. He was then asked to help recreate Chianti on the Upper East Side. Conant immediately focused on upgrading the entire operation, from the quality of the ingredients the restaurant purchased to the service in the front of the house. The “new” restaurant earned glowing praise from New York Magazine and the New York Times, and Gourmet Magazine went one step further with a feature on Conant by writer David Rosengarten. Next, Conant became the opening executive chef for City Eatery, where he further refined his trademark Italian-inspired style and earned an overwhelmingly positive two-star review from the New York Times. Conant then worked as a chef-consultant on a range of projects. In preparation for L’Impero’s opening, Conant embarked on an extensive three-month cooking and eating tour of Italy. Professionally, he was able to work with some of the best, most innovative chefs in Italy, learning secrets to new ingredients and time-tested techniques. Personally, Conant was able to reconnect with his roots, spending time with his mother’s relatives in Beneveto, reliving childhood memories and gathering heirloom recipes. His time in Italy reaffirmed his belief that cooking for him is all about honesty, integrity and soul. Now just 31 years old, Conant is known for his singular approach to food, his leadership skills, and his passion for excellence. In many respects, he’s come a long way from his early days in Waterbury. In others, he’s just the same young man excited by the possibilities of great food.
Recipes by Chef Scott Conant
Creamy Polenta with a Fricassee of Mushrooms and Truffle Reduction
Ingredients For the Polenta:
- 4 oz polenta
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbs butter
- 2 tbs freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Chives for garnish
Ingredients For the Fricassee of Mushrooms:
- ¼ lb. chopped fresh Porcini mushrooms
- ½ shallot, sliced
- 1 cup Chicken reduction
- 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- to taste Truffle Oil
For the polenta: Add the milk and cream together in a medium sauce pan and heat to scald. Add salt to taste, and, off the flame, add polenta slowly while stirring. Lower heat, return pan to stove, and stir regularly for an hour. Keep covered.
For the mushrooms: Add olive oil to sauté pan, heat until almost smoking, then add shallots. When the shallots start to caramelize, add sliced porcini. When the porcini begin to exude their juices add the cup of chicken reduction and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by 2/3.
To finish: Stir butter and parmigiano into polenta, then spoon on to plate. Set sautéed mushrooms on top of polenta and pour juice from pan over the top. Garnish with snipped fresh chives.
Today's Featured Chef ||
Today's Featured Chef Recipes ||
Featured Chef Archive