As the chef behind the highly regarded Scarpetta restaurants — which dot the country from Miami to Los Angeles to New York — contemplates his next move, Conant says he finds himself mulling concepts that drill down to the essence of the ingredients he works with. And he loves the idea of a restaurant at which each plate would be assembled from just three ingredients.
"I love that idea," he said recently during an interview at the South Beach Wine and Food festival. "The art of making the elegant nonchalant, that's my approach."
He's also nonchalant about his own success. Though Scarpetta in New York was a James Beard nominee for best new restaurant and he was named a Rising Star Chef by New York Magazine in 2002, he says he still considers his career a work in progress.
"I've had a series of successes, but I don't consider myself successful," he said. "I love what I do, so I'm not sure there's a moment when you say, 'I'm satisfied.'"