Chef Scott Conant has been delighting diners with his award-winning cuisine for 35 years and has captivated audiences with his tenure as a judge on the Food Network shows “Chopped” and “Chopped Sweets.”
Now, Conant, who recently settled in Scottsdale, is inspiring other cooks with his latest cookbook, titled “Peace, Love and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen,” which hit shelves Sept. 14.
He wanted this cookbook, his fourth, to be personal, explaining “’Peace, Love, and Pasta’ is genuinely me cooking from my home kitchen while my earlier books were much more restaurant-focused.”
The book features recipes that the chef grew up eating at his grandparents’ home in New England and others that he has picked up in his career.
“There’s a little bit of New England represented, a little bit of Germany, a lot of Italy and even Turkey represented as well. These are dishes that I’ve been influenced by throughout my career,” Conant said.
“I often say that I don’t cook traditional Italian food, but rather that I’m inspired by Italy; Italy is my starting place. Then I integrated other kinds of global experiences into that food, and it’s all represented inside the book.”
“It wasn’t until I had children that I started to cook more at home and frankly, it wasn’t until the pandemic that I was cooking at home every day,” Conant said.
“While I was testing these recipes, I was also putting dinner on the table for the girls and having fun doing it. This book is a culmination of that and truly about me cooking for my family.”
For the New England and Italian recipes, Conant revisited the recipes that his grandparents made out of ingredients grown in their garden.
“My grandparents absolutely influenced me to cook Italian food, one hundred percent. The nostalgia of their garden growing up continues to inspire me every day,” he said. “I always say I can’t smell basil without thinking of my grandfather and standing together in his garden.”
Conant credits his grandfather to being one of his first teachers in culinary arts.
“Throughout my childhood, my grandfather would constantly point things out to me like ‘this is fennel, these are borlotti beans, this is basil,’ and so on.” he said.
“My decision to cook Italian food stems from them while the decision to be a chef came from experiencing the camaraderie that I found in the kitchen. I just love that sense of team.”
Conant wants to share the simplicity and elegance that influenced his cuisine when he began his career.
“I wanted to showcase that you can have elegant food at home without pretense. There is a simplicity here, which I think is my favorite part of the book itself and the recipes come together quickly,” he said. “I fully admit there are some luxury ingredients, but really, it’s done in a simple, straightforward way to make it accessible and approachable for everyone to cook.”
Some dishes have made their way onto the menu at Conant’s restaurants and all have received rave reviews from guests and his family.
“A few of the dishes are served in the restaurants, some are inspired by the restaurants, and I wouldn’t put anything in a book if it wasn’t overwhelmingly positively received from my family or guests,” Conant said.
Conant hopes that the book can help readers find the same peace he finds every time he cooks a meal for his family.
“Besides the reference to cooking pasta, it’s a nod to my own evolution to a certain extent,” he said. “I feel like I’ve gotten to this point where I’m more settled. With that kind of peace of mind, comes a lot of peace and love.”
When Conant is not writing a cookbook, on TV or cooking for his family, he is kept busy by his three restaurants: the Americano in Scottsdale, Arizona,; Mora Italiano, a modern osteria in Phoenix, Arizona; and Cellaio,an Italian steakhouse at Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, New York.
“Scottsdale is such a great place to do business, to live and spend time with family. It made perfect sense to move here,” he said.
He was also inspired by another Scottsdale restaurateur.
“I also look at people like Sam Fox, who has incubated brilliant concepts inside this market. I’m very inspired by that.”
As for his book, he hopes it can help solve the age-old question of “what’s for dinner?”
“I hope that people are inspired to cook these dishes and make these recipes part of their home repertoire,” Conant said. “I remember as a kid, my mom always wondered ‘What are we going to have for dinner?’ Hopefully, there’s a couple of your new favorites inside this book for your family.”
“Peace, Love and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen” is available at Amazon.com and on shelves at Barnes & Noble and Target.