The Dish On Travel With Celebrity Chef Scott Conant

We can all be grateful that super-chef Scott Conant didn’t get into the plumbing program at Kaynor Technical School in Waterbury, Conn., where he grew up.  (Although, he laughs, he still sometimes wears his pants like that of a plumber.)  If you've ever watched the hit Food Network TV show, Chopped, you've undoubtedly seen him.  Conant is the beautifully dressed celebrity chef, who is typically wearing a gorgeous Zegna Italian suit, flashing a Cheshire-cat smile, and urging the contestants not to simply chop up a red onion and add it to their entree. Conant officially put his name on the map when he opened the beloved L’Impero in New York in 2002, which garnered a three-star review from The New York Times, the title of “Best New Restaurant” from the James Beard Foundation and praise from top publications such as Gourmet and Food & Wine, the latter naming Conant one of America’s Best New Chefs in 2004. I interviewed Mr. Conant as he sat on the beach at a luxury resort in Mexico, where he was cooking for a private party of 25 people.  He shared his thoughts on all-things-travel, his favorite snacks, and what he thinks about Jet Blue.

Celebrity Chef Scott Conant is easy-on-the-eyes and perfect-on-your-palate.KEN GOODMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Tell me about your first big travel splurge, after you “made it.”

It was 1999.  I went to Italy for four months, with one bag, and rented a car.  I traveled around Italy by myself, and met my mother’s family.  It was life-changing.  At age 18, I moved to Germany and traveled, and lived in Munich.  I have always traveled for food, and to learn, and to ingratiate myself in the culture of the area.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

We went to Tahiti, and we stayed in an overwater bungalow.  It was boring as hell.  I got anxious.  I needed to get back to work.  We even went to a private island –Tahaa– where a salad was around $50.  A week there in Tahiti would have been more than enough.

What luggage do you use?

I have some Prada bags, plus a leather bag from The Bridge that I’ve had for 25 years.  It patinas so well.

What do you do to make every trip more comfortable, if not luxurious?

For me travel is all about convenience.  TSA Global Entry is one of life’s necessities.  I take lots of chargers, cords, about five to six pairs of sunglasses, and I wear a hoodie, which for me, is a “blanket in a