Celebrity Chef Scott Conant and Marc Maron talk Aroostook County

Many who know me know that I am a devout WTF with Marc Maron fan. On today’s show, Marc talked with celebrity chef and author Scott Conant, who grew up in Connecticut but has ties to Northern Maine. He and Maron touched upon his father, potatoes, and live in The County.

Note: In the photo above, I am wearing a Food Coma TV hat. FCTV visited The County in November of 2011:

You can listen to the full show here.

Scott Conant: It was interesting because my father grew up on a farm in the North of Maine so a lot of the…

Marc Maron: Oh my God.

SC: So a lot of that stuff like those old world values, those traditions, which really came from my mother’s side of the family resonated with a lot with my father because he grew up on a farm and it was a tough upbringing.

MM: And really very sort of intimate where you ate what you grew, or ate what a friend had, or no?

SC: It wasn’t necessarily that romantic. [laughter] I was talking with him about it before. He grew up on a potato farm. I was like, Dad, what kind of potatoes did you guys grow? I was sitting here thinking Peruvians and Fingerlings and all these kind of… He’s like, “[Expletive] are you talking about? We grew potatoes. Potatoes.” There was a lot of family issues and friends with a lot of drinking problems and they would take random people into the house to live there to work on the farm…

MM: To help them? It was like a halfway house? “You got a drinking problem, come to pull the potatoes”?

SC: Well I think the choice for those people, they needed to make a living so you might as well choose potatoes. My grandfather would take them in – my grandfather was saint-like, an awesome guy with a heart of gold.

MM: What part of Maine? Maine’s a little gnarly.

SC: It’s way up…

MM: Like Machias?

SC: Fort Fairfield, outside of Presque Isle, Caribou… Croostook County. They call it The County. Way the Hell up.

MM: So you had to drive up there to visit?

SC: Oh my God, we would drive… I remember it as a kid, and we would get off the highway. Just when you think you can’t go any further, literally we would drive for five more hours. It was on the border of Canada so from Connecticut where we grew up, it was like 12, 14 hours.

MM: So potatoes would be the only thing that would grow up there? What else is going to grow up there? It’s cold, it’s hard.

SC: People shouldn’t even be up there.

MM: No kidding, man. When I used to do gigs up in Maine, you’d start driving and pull off at gas stations and you’d be like, “There’s something wrong up here.” I swear to you, a guy at a service station had flippers. [laughter] I’ll never forget. I was like, the gene pool is tight up here.

SC: The lobsters gotta get laid too.

MM: Maybe that’s it! He’d been around lobster so long.

SC: But the nicest people in the world.

MM: No doubt.

SC: I have a lot of cousins up there still.

Photo Credit: Marc Maron and me at the Ice House in Pasadena last year. Pardon my glassy stare, but there was a approximately 30 drink limit to get into the show.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.