International Day of Italian Cuisines

Scott Conant: “Italian Cuisine has never been as popular as it is today”

Interview by Anthony Scillia

Q: Who are some of your Italian culinary inspirations?

A: First and foremost, my grandmother; she was from Benevento and I’m still inspired by her food as well as her old world hospitality. Lidia Bastianich is another strong matriarch; she represents everything that’s right with all things Italian. She is a business woman, a mother and true inspiration. Larry Ruvo has become a good friend over the years, who has motivated and encouraged me and I appreciate him as a person and his continual philanthropy... he is a great man.

Q: What drew you to Italian cuisine in the first place?

A: My family background, of course. Also when I first started to cook Italian food, I was only familiar with one aspect of it. I found that the more experience I acquired and the more knowledge I obtained, I really saw the multiple ingredients and flavor profiles used in Italian Cuisine from its various regions. I was immediately attracted to that.

Q: Is there one traditional dish of Italian cuisine that was most "inspiring" for you and why?

A: Spaghetti aglio’olio e alici—spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, anchovies and parsley. This dish is the foundation of pasta cooking and it’s one of my favorite pasta dishes. This dish done well can be a complete epiphany.

Q: What is your concept of authenticity in terms of Italian cuisine and how important is it for the marketing of your restaurant?

A: I don’t pretend to cook authentic Italian cuisine. However, I think there are certain principles of Italian Cuisine that need to be adhered to in order to deliver on the expectations of a great meal. The intention at the restaurants is always to adhere to those principles, keep the staff educated, and continually pursue quality whenever possible.

Q: How do you see the future of Italian cuisine outside of Italy?

A: I think Italian Cuisine has never been as popular as it is today. Hopefully as it grows in popularity, some of the common misconceptions will be left behind.

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