The New York Diet

Chef Scott Conant Questions His Multi-Restaurant Dining Habits

Conant has an espresso at Scarpetta.
Conant has an espresso at Scarpetta. Photo: Melissa Hom

“It’s a little like going into another review period,” says Scott Conant of waiting for his Food Network show, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, to premiere on July 21. “They’re so stressful because everyone has an opinion, and then of course this is television so everyone has an opinion.” The Faustina and Scarpetta chef isn’t worried about how well he’ll do as the show’s host — but he is a little worried about how he looks onscreen. “When I saw the promos for the show, and saw myself, I was like what?” he says. “It was embarrassing. And then keeping track of what I ate last week for [the New York Diet], I was like, This is ridiculous; this is just too much. So I went to a nutritionist and I showed her my notes from the first two days, and she was like, ‘Oh my God, this is a disaster.’ She put me on this diet that changed things pretty dramatically.” Find out what Conant ate — and then didn’t eat — in this week’s New York Diet.

Friday, July 2
I had an Odwalla Protein Monster, a banana, some watermelon, and then a double espresso at home.

I didn’t eat anything for the rest of the day, because I was on the go all day long — I was in the car all day, and I didn’t have time to eat. But when I got home, I ordered from Homes — it’s pretty good Chinese food. I got pork-fried rice, string beans with prawns and garlic sauce, and chicken with cashews. My wife had a little bit, but she doesn’t really eat that stuff that much. I didn’t finish it all.

Saturday, July 3
I had a double espresso and a banana.

I went to Scarpetta, where we’re doing menu development for our restaurant that opens in Toronto next week and for the one that opens in Las Vegas in December. I had fried whitebait with zucchini flowers and basil aïoli; roasted branzino with summer onions cooked in agrodolce with preserved truffle purée and pignoli nuts; and then roasted scallops with a black garlic “soup,” asparagus and morel mushrooms. We had roasted duck with pickled mustard seeds and roasted radishes with fava beans and dill — roasted radishes are delicious, the flavor just pops in your mouth. Toss ‘em with some olive oil and sea salt, pop ‘em in the oven: good stuff. Then I had pancetta-wrapped loin of veal with braised veal cheeks, peas, and a summer-vegetable stew. We’re working on a dessert that has Tri-star strawberries — they’re kind of first-of-season strawberries — with a basil-vanilla syrup, a little cream, and a twelve-year balsamic. We put that on the menu here, but the other stuff is for the other restaurants.

For dinner, I was with a friend of mine and we went to a whole bunch of different places. We started at Del Posto, where we had a few glasses of Champagne, a little tramezzini of lobster and basil, which was spectacular, and a couple of little duck meatballs — I think, the Champagne had already started kicking in. Then we went across the street to Morimoto and had the tuna-sushi pizza, which was killer, and we had a platter of sushi, which was great. It’s a huge platter, but the horse mackerel really jumped out at me; that was the best of the bunch. We had a few pitchers of sake.

Then we went to Eleven Madison Park; [chef Daniel Humm] was there and he sent us out a bunch of food. I think Eleven Madison is my favorite restaurant in the city. I just love what they do there. I can’t guarantee that I can remember it all — we had a bottle of Riesling and a few drinks, and then we finished with Cognac. But we started with a little thing of appetizers. There was this sweetbread, kind of wrapped sweetbreads and deep fried, like a cone. There was a little mushroom tart, foie gras with some sort of currant jelly, bigeye tuna with a nori tuile, and this carrot marshmallow. All these were little things, just small tastes. After that they came to us with these tomato lollipops, kind of like soup on a lollipop — when you put it in your mouth it just sort of melted. There was a little basil and taggiasca olive in there. It was awesome. Then we went on to this rabbit appetizer — and this is where it all gets a little bit sloppy, because I was drinking a lot. After that was a tabbouleh salad with a summer crudite, a composed appetizer which was spectacular. There was a lasagna with lobster; it was awesome. For dessert, he sent us this milk-and-honey dish: It’s kind of like this frozen milk granita with encapsulated lavender-infused honey inside it, so it breaks open and spills and it was just delicious. It was great.

Sunday, July 4
There was a lot of eating on Saturday, so I didn’t eat much on Sunday. We were at a friend’s house in Jersey, and I had some barbecued chicken thighs and the obligatory Fourth of July burger — I like mine with mayonnaise and a little bit of ketchup, on a big potato roll. I had some watermelon with baby burrata and greens, and some nachos and salsa. I drank a lot of water because I felt so sick from the day before.

That was all I had that day, and I decided to turn a corner. I wasn’t feeling well. I was going to cleanse.

Monday, July 5
I started with a banana and a double espresso. Then I had a vegetable juice with beets, carrots, apple, parsley, and ginger from a deli.

I went to the nutritionist that afternoon, and she gave me this diet to adhere to for a week. So after that I just had a salad with grilled chicken and avocado, and some watermelon and mango.

Tuesday, July 6
For breakfast, I had granola with blueberries. That’s it. No coffee. I’m off coffee, which is really painful.

Lunch was a radicchio-and-beet salad with carrots and apples at Faustina. With that I had steamed broccoli rabe with shiitake mushrooms. I had some water and green tea.

For dinner, I came home late and made some Swiss chard with shiitake mushrooms and coconut milk, and a carrot-and-ginger soup.

Wednesday, July 7
Granola, but with apple this time. No coffee.

For lunch, I was in my office, and I had an arugula salad with strawberries, avocado, and sunflower seeds, and some steamed butternut squash with cinnamon.

I had some menu-development stuff to do in the afternoon, so I went off the diet a little. I had some Wagyu beef tartare with mushroom sott’olio with Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts. I had a shaved vegetable salad with about eighteen different vegetables in it, plus fresh caraway seeds and baby fennel ferns — it was good. Then we had a dessert tasting for the new menus, so I had a hazelnut semifreddo, and these chocolate macaroons that we made into a tiramisu. We did a pistachio crème brûlée, and then I had a pineapple cake with pignoli ice cream. I tried some chocolate-and-passion-fruit ganache, and then the last dessert I had — which was really the dessert of the day — was an amaretto flan with rosemary-candied apricots and Marsala zabaglione gelato. It was spectacular. That’s going to the menu at Faustina. It was really good, really good.

And then for dinner, late night, I had that carrot-and-ginger soup again.

Chef Scott Conant Questions His Multi-Restaurant Dining Habits