A man behind many culinary accomplishments, Scott Conant has grown an empire of restaurants across the country. His reach goes as far as Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Miami. Fans of his authentic Italian cuisine—which he learned from his upbringing, cooking classes at age 11 and an education at the Culinary Institute of America—can try their hand at his culinary style with three of his cookbooks. The beloved chef has also taken his fame in the restaurant industry to the television screen with a regular role as a judge on the Food Network show “Chopped.” Here, he dishes about his life in and out of the kitchen.
What was the first meal you made on your own?
At 11 years old, I made an apple pie. It looked like a mess, but it ate well. I still remember it.
Which ingredient do you most overuse?
Crushed red peppers. My 4-year-old daughter always tells me my food is too spicy.
What would you eat for your last meal?
A great pasta with good butter and white truffles shaved over the top in copious amounts. I can eat that until I die, not just the last meal.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I’d put more hours in the day.
Where do you want to open a restaurant?
What do you most enjoy about cooking?
I love the patience required to cook meat, the precision for fish and the delicate touch for pasta.
What is your least favorite thing about cooking?
Same answer—the patience for meat, precision for fish and the delicate touch for pasta.
What is your greatest fear?
Not realizing my potential, whether in my career or relationship with my wife and children.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What do you still hope to accomplish?
Too much to list.
What has been a career-defining moment?
It’s yet to happen.
What is your dream job?
I’m already doing it.
What city makes you feel most at home?
New York City
In what city do you spent most of your time?
New York City
Where do you still hope to visit?
So many places—especially Maldives.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Howard Roark (from “The Fountainhead”)
Who are your heroes in real life?
The Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.
Is there anyone you’ve never met but would like to have a conversation with?
Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
When I walk into my daughters’ room in the morning and hear “Hi, daddy!”
What is your motto?
Honesty, integrity and soul. Those are three words I instill in my everyday life, whether it be business or personal.
—Written by Kirsti Correa