St Lucian native Chef Nina Compton, finalist, and fan favorite on Top Chef Season 11: New Orleans has made her way back to the Big Easy, bringing a touch of Caribbean flavor to her first restaurant Compére Lapin.
French for “Brother Rabbit”, Compére Lapin made its debut in June 2015 and has created quite the buzz in New Orleans with its diverse menu showcasing Chef Nina’s creative dishes. Having already been named one of the “World’s Best New Restaurant’s” by Huffington Post, her hard work has been highly praised by the New Orleans community.
Chef Nina studied at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and has worked at top restaurants including Scarpetta in Miami, where she started as a sous chef, working her way up to Executive Chef. After the show, she went back to Miami to work at Scarpetta when she got the call to come back to New Orleans to open her own restaurant.
I had a chance to talk with Chef Nina recently to discuss Compére Lapin, what she looks forward to in 2016 and a few fun facts to get to know just a little more about her.
Was Compére Lapin a dream prior Top Chef?
I never thought I would be opening my own restaurant after doing the show you know, things just fell into place. When I got a phone call to move to New Orleans and open a restaurant, I knew I wanted it to make sense and I wanted to tie it with my Caribbean heritage.
How would you describe the menu?
I would say it’s a mix of everything. It’s a little bit Caribbean, a little bit of Creole and a little bit of Italian all mixed into one.
How do you unwind after service?
I recently got into watching the Blacklist. It has nothing to do with cooking, but it helps to distract me a little bit and it’s one of my ways to unwind.
Who most inspires you?
It’s very tough to say. I am inspired by the staff that I have around me, my parents, my grandmother…I had so many mentors coming up in the business, but it is very tough to say. I am inspired each day by different people whether it’s my husband or the weather, the climate change from Winter to Spring, there are so many ways to be inspired.Chef Nina Compton's advice to future chefs. #foodie #TopChef Click To Tweet
What are you most excited about for 2016?
I am excited about June because it is our 1-year anniversary of being open. I look back and reflect on the opening of the restaurant and seeing where we are now, we’ve had such great feedback from people and to fit into the community here in New Orleans, it’s a very big deal.
What’s your favorite dish to make at home?
I enjoy cooking pasta. Whether it is spaghetti pomodoro or spaghetti carbonara, keeping it very simple and light and not too fussy I think is the best way to go.
What was the last thing you Googled?
The last thing I Googled was the location for oysters.
What is the last recipe you created?
The conch croquettes currently on the menu.
What’s your favorite cocktail or wine?
I really enjoy the TCB Sour currently in the restaurant right now. It’s really well balanced, not too heavy and it’s a fun drink you can have any time of the day.
What advice would you give to a young Chef starting in the industry?
I think the best advice I can give anybody is to be dedicated. It’s a lot of work, a lot of hours and it’s very demanding, just don’t give up.