The Observer’s profile of Scott Conant yesterday captures the Scarpetta chef’s endearing, obnoxious confidence. (“Go look at my books tonight and yesterday. It’s August and we’re killin’ it — just killin’ it. Spectacular!”) Of greater interest is the most detailed look yet into the mechanics of Conant’s signature spaghetti with tomato sauce. It’s obvious to everybody that the dish isn’t as simple as it looks. But even we, who have had the good luck to watch the guy make it for us, didn’t realize how much of a production it is:
The pasta is homemade. But the key is the sauce, Mr. Conant said: “Peel and seed tomatoes, cook ’em for 45 minutes, then put an infused olive oil inside it, which that fat content, I think, is really important for the palatability of it, the perfume. The oil consists of an infusion of basil, crushed red pepper and garlic. And that’s it. The idea is, we cook it in a big pot, so then when we heat the sauce up per order, we do it in a sauce pan so there’s a larger surface area, so that it still maintains its freshness. And then we just toss the pasta inside of it, finish it with a little bit of butter and a touch of Parmesan cheese, and then the last thing that goes into the pan is the first flavor, the basil.”
As long as he keeps turning out the pasta, we’ll allow the guy to be a little cocky.