You’ve seen them judge the competition, battle for the title of All-Stars champion and compete in a friendly game with colleagues on After Hours, but there’s a lot you don’t know about the judges of Chopped. Here’s your chance to get to know the nine people behind the Chopping Block.
Scott Conant is well known for his Italian restaurant, Scarpetta, in New York City. In 2010 he opened additional locations in Toronto, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. Many people know Scott as the finicky judge who hates onions on Chopped, but there’s more to this chef than meets the eye. Besides cooking professionally, Scott loves to cook with his 3-year-old daughter. If given the choice, he’d rather eat his mom’s cooking over a fancy meal for his last supper. Find out more about Scott in his Q&A below.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Scott Conant: Pretension. One time, people gave me a bunch of mood boards and wanted me to create a menu based on a series of pictures. I have no patience for that.
What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
SC: Durian, insects, rodents.
What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who? Details, please.
SC: Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif. The balance of flavors, the creativity, the soulfulness, the service, the execution — all of it was perfect. Within its perfection, it was an emotional experience.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
SC: Skippy Reduced Fat, Super Chunk Peanut Butter.
Is there one dish that you always order out and never make at home?
SC: Octopus. I love a delicious octopus.
What kitchen tool can’t you live without?
SC: Hand-held blender.
If you weren’t in food, what career would you like to have tried?
SC: I would have been a baseball player when I was younger and now be so rich I wouldn’t have to work anymore.
What’s your favorite “food city” to visit?
SC: Tokyo. Best food top to bottom that I’ve ever had.
What’s your favorite late-night snack?
SC: Popcorn with sea salt and popped in extra virgin olive oil.
What’s one must-have at your last supper?
SC: My mother’s sausage and peppers.
Who’s your favorite person to cook with?
SC: My 3-year-old daughter.
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Burger or hot dog? Burger
Cream cheese or butter? Cream cheese
Soda or water? Water
Sprinkles or jimmies? Jimmies