Scott Conant, a judge on Food Network's uber-popular Chopped, is from Connecticut, is a partner in restaurants around the country, and currently calls Scottsdale home. But he has a special love for Los Angeles.
The chef recently opened The Ponte, an Italian restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, not too long after his previous L.A. endeavor, Scarpetta, shut its doors. Conant seems to have three reasons in particular for coming back to the best coast.
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"People are nice to me here," Conant says. "I'm a sensitive soul. And New York is unforgiving, truly."
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L.A. Goes Crazy For His Spaghetti
Conant cooks a whole range of European food, specializing mostly in Italian cuisine. His most famous dish is probably his spaghetti with tomato sauce, which seems to baffle him.
"It's not really my dish. It's spaghetti with tomato sauce; it's been made probably for centuries," Conant says. He continues to play coy when it's suggested to him that perhaps his version is also well known because he has had the audacity to charge $24 for it. (At The Ponte it is $22.) "Is that right?" he asks with a smile. He mentions all the costs of running a restaurant that customers often forget — bread service isn't free, for instance, but rather it's built into the cost of all the dishes on the menu. This is true, and an excellent point consumers would do well to remember. But one gets the sense Conant is too savvy to be surprised by all the attention. Also, good news: People really do love that spaghetti.
Conant is keeping an eye on Joseph Johnson, a protege of the restaurant legend Josiah Citrin and the chef de cuisine at Charcoal Venice; he named Johnson among a small number of up-and-comers around the country he's particularly impressed with. "He's awesome."