Chef Scott Conant twirls his pasta like a boss. His right hand angled, the fork at 20 degrees — the movement is fluid and effortless, like he’s tumbling a quarter along his knuckles.
The chef of the new Italian restaurant the Ponte in Beverly Grove is sitting at a table at Cento, the pasta-focused lunchtime pop-up inside of Mignon in downtown L.A. that’s run by Avner Lavi, a former pasta cook at Bestia and Sotto. Conant is dressed in a tailored, three-piece, navy suit, with his signature auburn mane brushed straight up and back. (If he decides to leave the culinary world, he could have a second career as a spokesman for a shampoo company. The hair hasn’t elicited its own Twitter profile yet, but Conant says there was a hashtag.)
“Hey, I woke up like this,” he says. “Just remember I have the intellectual property on my hair.”
Conant digs into a beet pasta, one of Lavi’s specialties, made with a dry pasta and a sauce of roasted beets, poppy seed, and brown butter. Twirl, bite, wipe, repeat. He is through a quarter of the bowl before he comes up for air, his napkin a crime scene of smeared fuchsia and poppy seeds. This is the first hour of a three-restaurant, eight-hour, 18-bowl pasta crawl for Conant, who is known best for his pasta al pomodoro, a humble bowl of spaghetti, tomato, and basil.