Chef Tony Conte of The Oval Room - Biography

Washington, DC

July 2010

Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Tony Conte followed his passion to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He spent the early part of his career honing his skills close to home at Sole e Luna Ristorante in Westport and then advanced to the position of Executive Sous Chef for the Greenwich Country Club and the Belmont Country Club in Belmont, Massachusetts. And while the country club is apparently an economically great choice for a chef, Conte eventually chose to move on and delve into the rarefied atmosphere of the stand alone restaurant.

Conte soaked up the nuances of fine dining as Chef de Partie at JoJo, a contemporary French restaurant owned by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, before going on to the position of executive chef and co-owner of Pesce in Branford, Connecticut. During his tenure, the restaurant earned Connecticut Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant 2002” and Taste of Nation’s “Golden Fork Award” Best Food in Show for 2001. Conte joined Jean Georges in 2003, where he was responsible for menu innovation, research and development, product management, assessment and culinary training, as well as purchasing and food costs. As Executive Sous Chef of Jean Georges, Conte worked closely with Vongerichten and adopted the concept of simplicity from his mentor.

Currently at The Oval Room , where he earned a spot among our 2006 DC Rising Stars, Conte applies the refined sensibility of his mentor in his daring and composed dishes, matching unlikely ingredients like horseradish and beetroot in his Baby Beet Salad for a successful burst of clean flavor. He thinks outside the box, building upon the seasonality and local-sourcing of modern American cuisine with elements and techniques that cross culinary lines. Whether he’s turning shrimp into chorizo or churning another batch of super savory ice cream (although we’re not sure what could possibly follow his hot mustard and sour cream flavors), Conte is using solid technique to play by his own rules. And everyone in DC is stepping up to the plate.

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