Best known for judging Food Network’s longtime cooking competition “Chopped,” Scott Conant is also a successful restauranteur, entrepreneur and family man.
Food Network personality and restauranteur Scott Conant could have been a plumber. It’s fortunate for his many television and restaurant fans that the stylish and charismatic chef didn’t get into the plumbing program at the vocational high school he attended in Connecticut. Instead he decided to study culinary arts and found his passion.
From there, Conant went to the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York, studied in Europe and worked at several renowned Italian restaurants in New York City. In 2002, he opened L’Impero to critical acclaim, receiving three stars from The New York Times and being named Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. In 2004 Conant was named one of America’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine. He then opened Alto, an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, followed by Scarpetta, which was named one of 2008’s Best New Restaurants by Esquire Magazine.
Conant describes his culinary style as deliberate cooking, a combination of rustic and refined, with influences from different regions of Italy. Some of his signature dishes that you will find at his restaurants include pasta Pomodoro and creamy polenta with mushrooms and bacon. “I cook what I’m comfortable with, food that has soul and big flavors in a thoughtful way,” he said.
Conant currently owns three restaurants. Mora Italian is a stylish, contemporary Italian eatery in Phoenix, serving handmade pasta including lobster gnudi and black campanelle with clams, and wood-fired pizza. Opened in February 2018, Masso Osteria at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas offers Italian classics with modern and refined flavors including tagliatelle Bolognese and veal Milanese. His newest restaurant is Cellaio, located in the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York, an Italian-inspired steakhouse offering fresh pasta, seafood and a variety of aged steaks, including the Bistecca Fiorentina, a porterhouse for two.
In addition to owning three thriving restaurants, Conant recently launched Sprezza, a line of spreads, olives and sauces including artichoke hearts, pesto and his signature Pomodoro sauce. He has appeared on several Food Network shows, as well as “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America.”
Conant’s busy schedule doesn’t stop. He is working on a new cookbook and is planning to open several new restaurants. He is hosting a new season of “Best Baker in America,” that will soon debut on Food Network. He is also a regular on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.”
Conant may be most recognizable for his many appearances on Food Network’s “Chopped.” He has been part of the beloved cooking competition show since it started in 2009 and continues to be a fan favorite, known for his insightful critiques and disdain for raw red onions.
“Being on ‘Chopped’ is a great opportunity to identify up and coming talent, and provide feedback to make them better,” he said.
For all of his success, Conant remains humble and grateful. “I’ve been in this industry for more than 30 years, and I’m fortunate be a part of today’s growing food culture with the popularity of chefs and Food Network. It’s a big part of my world. I love what I do, and I’m blessed to do it,” he said.
It’s a big part of my world. I love what I do, and I’m blessed to do it.”
Mora Italian, Phoenix
Nearly three years ago, Conant moved from New York City to Arizona to open Mora Italian. Although he travels 60 percent of the time, he and his family, which includes two young daughters, have adjusted well to living in the desert. “Living in Arizona is a beautiful lifestyle. I feel relaxed like I’m on vacation. There is a great pool of culinary talent, and a very supportive culinary community,” he said.
A successful entrepreneur, chef, television personality and author, Conant is first and foremost a family man. “The thing I enjoy the most is cooking breakfast for my family,” he said. “My kids aren’t going to be young forever and my time with them is very precious. Everything I do is for my family.”