Two major chefs chatted about their plans to open eponymous restaurants, as they stood over their dishes at Citymeals on Wheels 30th Annual Chefs' Tribute at Rockefeller Center Monday night. Scott Conant, who's had his new restaurant, Conant, in the works since October, reveals that he's suffered a setback: "I had something in Nomad, but that fell through. It was near where I live so it would have been great,'' he told Eater as he plated pressed duck with ground cherries and millet. But all is not lost. "My goal is to find a new location for Conant and to build a new brand". The chef, who launched Scarpetta but has since parted ways with the Chelsea Italian restaurant, said he plans the new spot to be a bit higher end. "I want it to be a bit more elevated, like L'Impero, but still fun, so my focus is on downtown.''
On the other side of the event, Lincoln chef Jonathan Benno said he is planning to open something less formal than his Italian fine dining restaurant, along with his partners at the Patina Group. "Something more casual is on the agenda,'' he reported, "I'm looking just south of Chelsea and in Hudson Square." He said he would like to serve pastas like the malloreddus with saffron and tuna he was scooping up at Rockefeller Center. "I would serve it on a rustic wooden table like this,'' he said pointing to his display. "I'd like to call it Benno; I think it's time.''