Every pantry is unique to the person or people stocking it. In Chef Scott Conant’s pantry, for example, you’ll find Neonata, but you probably won’t find a stockpile of ketchup.
“We’ve gone a little overboard with ketchup,” Conant says of America’s ketchup usage. “Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s a wonderful condiment, but it has its place. I see people putting it on pasta, pizza and things of that nature and it hurts my heart because what we’re doing is creating an overly one-note flavor profile with it. In my opinion, ketchup should be used sparingly.”
A longtime NYC chef, Conant now owns Cellaio in Monticello, N.Y., Mora Italian in Phoenix and The Americano in Scottsdale, Ariz., and he’s getting ready to open a second location of The Americano in Atlanta. His pantry essentials reflect his love for Italian cooking and his flair for taking simple dishes to the next level.
“These ingredients quite simply make things taste good,” he says. “They are easy to incorporate as finishing touches for a dish and elevate the overall flavor profile. If I make avocado toast, for example, it can be pretty bland and mundane. Adding something like Neonata on top, though, really makes the dish pop.”
And with that, here are Scott Conant’s five pantry essentials.
Whole Grain Mustard
“A nice, subtle addition to many dishes and pairs well with capers.”
“I always keep these in my refrigerator and love salted capers, too.”
“An Italian condiment made of Calabrian chili and little baby fish.”
“I’ll take a shot of it in the morning or evening for digestion. It’s also great as a finishing touch for vinaigrettes and sauces; definitely one of those pantry items with multiple uses in the kitchen.”
“Italian fish sauce. I’ll add it to sauces here and there or even toss chicken in it with Worcestershire for a quick weeknight meal for the family. Fish sauce adds incredible depth and umami to dishes that I just really love. It excels like a great supporting actor, in the sense that it helps all the other ingredients shine as well.”