Scott Co­nant’s Scar­petta | CULI­NARY

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content -

Scott Co­nant could have been a movie star. Be­tween the lux­u­ri­ous chest­nut hair, cropped beard, sooth­ing voice, and charm, he’d have no prob­lem on the big screen. Luck­ily for us, he can also cook, and cook well, as is ev­i­dent from his il­lus­tri­ous 30-year ca­reer which es­tab­lished him as one of Amer­ica’s top chefs and restau­ran­teurs. His South Florida restau­rant, Scar­petta, lo­cated in Miami Beach’s glam­ourous Fon­tainebleau ho­tel, opened in Novem­ber 2008 of­fer­ing what the James Beard Award win­ner calls, “Ital­ian soul food.” Items on the menu in­clude Co­nant’s leg­endary spaghetti with tomato and basil, a dish whose height­ened sim­plic­ity has be­come a brand in and of it­self. Other fa­vorites are duck and foie gras ravi­oli with marsala re­duc­tion and short rib ag­nolotti dal plin, Pied­mon­tese for “to pinch” be­cause of how the pil­low-shaped pasta is made.

Co­nant ad­mits he is so busy these days he rarely has time to make pasta him­self un­less it is with his two young kids. Still, he does en­joy spread­ing his pas­sion and knowl­edge of this art form, some­thing he ac­quired from his grand­mother in Italy.

“She had this huge board and she’d make tagli­atelle, orec­chi­ette, and things like that. Those are my first mem­o­ries.”

Un­der the di­rec­tion of Co­nant’s Chef de Cui­sine, Neil O’Con­nell and ex­pert pasta maker Roberto Fer­nan­dez, Scar­petta will be launch­ing an in­ter­ac­tive cook­ing class and demo this Satur­day, De­cem­ber 2nd. The class will be of­fered the first Satur­day of ev­ery month from noon1:30 p.m. and is open to adults and chil­dren 12 years old and up.

“Neil does a great job, he doesn’t need me here!” Co­nant of­fers with a hearty laugh. “It’s been 9 years since we’ve opened and the team is strong.” He turns around to face the breath­tak­ing view of the ocean that serves as a back­drop for those tak­ing the class. “I wish I were here more of­ten, be­cause…”, he points at the azure wa­ter and breaks out a boy­ish grin that ex­plains it all.

At­ten­dees of the class will be privy to learn­ing trade se­crets of Co­nant’s sig­na­ture dishes, like the epic tomato sauce.

“The seeds and juice [of the tomato] are strained and I crush it with a potato masher, which I should re­fer to as a tomato masher. That way it has tex­ture to it, it’s not nec­es­sar­ily pureed. When it’s tossed in the pasta, it main­tains its level of fresh­ness.”

Co­nant adds ex­tra vir­gin olive oil and but­ter to the sauce as well, to give it rich­ness. As he ex­plains, his fun-lov­ing na­ture comes out. “And mirac­u­lously, it has no calo­ries!”, he jokes. The short rib ag­nolotti is lux­u­ri­ously deca­dent with ten­der, fla­vor­ful meat, smoked bone mar­row, and red wine re­duc­tion all blended to cre­ate a show-stop­per fill­ing. Shap­ing the dough, some­thing guests will learn to do, takes one’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ex­quis­ite dish to a whole other level. Roberto Fer­nan­dez, who has worked at Scar­petta as pasta maker since its in­cep­tion, serves as a pa­tient and skilled in­struc­tor.

“He does this a mile a minute chat­ting with his co-work­ers. He’s the best.”

The class, which is $75 per per­son, will teach pasta lovers how to make ba­sic dough, tomato sauce, ravi­oli, and spaghetti, in­clud­ing the proper way of fill­ing, han­dling, cook­ing, and serv­ing pasta all in the lux­u­ri­ous set­ting of this AAA Four Di­a­mond Award Win­ning Ital­ian restau­rant. Guests re­ceive recipe cards for the cov­eted tomato sauce and pasta dough and end the class with a tast­ing of all the de­li­cious recipes they cre­ate, and although Co­nant may not be lead­ing the class, his pas­sion and knowl­edge are un­de­ni­ably there.

“I could talk about this stuff all day!” Co­nant con­fesses, con­fi­dent that af­ter an af­ter­noon learn­ing to make pasta from his team at Scar­petta, you will too.

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