Scott Conant Returns With ScarpettaLost in the shuffle of this year’s high-profile openings has been a major lingering question: What ever happened to Scott Conant? One of the city’s top Italian chefs, Conant last year gave up both of his restaurants, L’Impero and Alto, to pursue a mystery project. (Michael White took over both places, to great acclaim.) Conant monkeyed around in the Hamptons, consulting for a friend, but only now is his next real project in view.
Back of the House
Ten Moments to Remember From 2007
“Life fades … vision dims … and all that remains is memory.” Such are the haunting first words of The Road Warrior, and we can’t help but think of them as we look back, through heavy lids, at the year that was. 2007 was a memorable restaurant year in so many ways, but there are a few that stick out in our minds. Our favorite moments of the last year would definitely have to include:
The Annotated Dish
L’Impero’s Pork Belly Sure Bet for Cautious DinersSince taking over from Scott Conant at L’Impero in May, Michael White has made the restaurant’s menu his own. As Gael Greene says in this week’s issue, “His new menu reflects the dazzling sunniness of Southern Italy’s markets and his own unleashed exuberance.” Exhibit A is this appetizer of grilled pork belly with mission figs and arugula. “People don’t want to risk their whole entrée on a pork belly; this way they can order it knowing that they’re safe with their sea bass or whatever,” says White. As always, mouse over the different elements after the jump to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
‘Next Food Network Star’ Contestant Accused of Fudging Past; ScottEx-Marine Josh Adam Garcia, one of the standout contestants on The Next Food Network Star, is accused of lying about both his military service and graduating from cooking school. [Marine Corps Times]
Scott Conant has Miami and New York projects on the horizon. And his go-to restaurants in New York are Daniel, Café Boulud, Daisy May’s, Blue Smoke, and Tsushima. [RG]
Some food-world heavy hitters recollect their greatest meat moments, as a follow-up to yesterday’s Times story about the fatty times we live in. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
‘Wichcraft Awarded Top NYC Honors; Shake Shack DefendedRegional-food gurus Jane and Michael Stern say that their favorite New York sandwich is … the bacon, egg, and gorgonzola from ‘wichcraft. [NYDN]
One of New York’s top burger experts evaluates Steve Cuozzo’s takedown of Shake Shack in the Post, taking issue with key points in the article. [AHT]
Chef Michael Schulson is said, in an unconfirmed report, to be leaving Buddakan. [Eater]
Scott Conant Soon to Be Very Busy; the New Shake ShackScott Conant has lots to keep him busy until his next major restaurant project, including a book, a Home Shopping Network deal, and a pilot for a cooking show. [The Strong Buzz]
Earlier: Scott Conant Takes Leave of Alto, L’Impero [Grub Street]
A customer sues Zen Palate for serving her jagged little pieces of metal along with her meal. [NYP]
The lines at Grom have grown even beyond Shake Shack proportions, stretching a whole city block. [Serious Eats]
Related: Grom’s Gelato Conquers New York for Italy [Grub Street]
Behind the Scenes at the Conant-Cannon DivorceAs with Brad and Jennifer or England Dan and John Ford Coley, the professional marriage of Chris Cannon and Scott Conant at Alto and L’Impero seemed perfect to the world until the day it broke up. Both men tell Grub Street that they have oodles of respect and love for the other, but in speaking to both, we were able to gather a basic time line of what happened. Some time in the last year, Conant talked to Cannon about new and ambitious plans outside the restaurant, which we gather are still in play but which Cannon wanted no part of. (Conant is doing a little casual consulting for Il Tutto Giorno, a friend’s tiny, 30-seat restaurant in Sag Harbor, but by Conant’s account, that is a minor, separate affair, and he is certainly not to be the chef there.) “There are things I wanted to do, and he wasn’t necessarily on the same page with that,” Conant says. “I need to achieve my potential. The restaurant business is changing, becoming more fluid, and I need to evolve with it.”
Scott Conant Takes Leave of Alto, L’ImperoIt looks like Scott Conant, one of the city’s top Italian chefs, will be leaving Alto and L’Impero. Neither restaurant will confirm, but a high-level source with professional connections to Conant and Chris Cannon (co-owner of the restaurants) tells us that former Fiamma chef Michael White will replace Conant in both kitchens. The decision to part was supposedly pretty friendly, though based on longstanding disagreements between Conant and Cannon on how to move forward with their partnership. L’Impero will maintain its focus on southern Italian food, Alto on northern, but our source expects that White will introduce new menus by mid-August.