Chef Nina Compton has had a fascinating rise to the top. But it’s not only luck that has gotten her this far.
Deep within the accolades and wins are the years of passion, hard work and making the right moves at the right time. The journey that began around 15 years ago at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park continues as she makes a well-earned reputation among the elite and prominent culinary chefs on the world. It’s only fair to peel back the layers and unravel the mystery that’s Nina Compton and how she has made for herself in the culinary world in such a short time.
Who is Nina Compton?
Top Chef Nina Compton is a well-known name after her stint at Miami’s Beach’s Scarpetta. This year she took home the coveted James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef. Known as the 'Oscars of the food world', Nina was the finalist in the food category for the last two years. She became a crowd favorite when she featured on Bravo TVs ‘Top Chef’ in Season 11. A native of St. Lucia she moved from Miami to New Orleans in 2015.
What is Nina Compton famous for?
Nina Compton has built a reputation as a consistent performer with highly skilled expertise and food technique in her dishes. Her Caribbean roots are evident in her signature dishes like conch croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce, tuna tartare with crispy bananas, and curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi and cashews.
Her innovation is seen in her second restaurant, Bywater American Bistro which is different in concept and offering from her first restaurant, Compère Lapin. Bywater American Bistro has a feel good atmosphere and a menu sourced from local ingredients nominally priced for everyday customers.
Significant Accomplishments of Nina Compton:
Her strongest factor comes from the local influences she has picked up across all her stints. She completed her secondary school in England. After an internship in Jamaica, she moved to Hyde Park, New York to study at a culinary school.
She picked the nuances of cooking and techniques from Daniel Boulud and his team. At Miami, she joined Norman Van Aken at Norman’s and Philippe Ruiz. However, her big break came at Casa Casuarina, a private club at Miami Beach. From there, she rose from Sous Chef to Executive Chef. She then moved on to work with Scott Conant at Scarpetta.
In 2015 she went solo to open her first restaurant Compère Lapin, at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in the Warehouse District. Success continues this year too with the James Beard Foundation award and the opening of her second restaurant, Bywater American Bistro.
Nina Compton's Attitude Towards Food
Clearly, Nina Compton takes food seriously. After all, she didn't get to where she is today by settling for mediocre dishes. Let's dive in and look at her approach to food.
How does Nina Compton do her food shopping?
Nina Compton believes in using the best assortment of spices to give a natural taste to her dishes. Here, she moves in a shop filled with spices to choose the best ingredients to include in her signature dishes. Her emphasis is only to have natural ingredients that don’t contain chemicals and lend a natural aroma and flavor to the food.
Turmeric, cardamom, star anise, floral, earthiness, cinnamon are an essential part of her dishes. Fresh curry leaves, dried spices, and guava leaves are some of her picks as she enjoys her food shopping for regular spice and herbs.
How does Nina Compton create a winning dish?
Nina Compton takes pride in her roots. She sources ingredients that are fresh, earthy and have a surprise element. She enjoys creating food that makes people happy and creating long-lasting memories.
Her refined taste has brought together some of the most lovable and amazing to taste dishes. People remember the feeling of the recipes at Compère Lapin at times, a year after they have eaten it. Her love for food is evident in the manner in which she beautifully prepares each dish and lays it out for her customers.
The Restaurants of Nina Compton
In 2015, Nina Compton opened her first restaurant Compère Lapin in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her inspiration for the restaurant comes from traditional Caribbean folktales that feature a mischievous rabbit named Compère Lapin.
Her influence for the second restaurant came from the resounding success of her first restaurant. However, the concept of Bywater American Bistro is different from Compère Lapin. Where as Compère Lapin focuses on offering Caribbean, French and Italian cuisine, Bywater American Bistro is about tasting authentic ingredients. You can expect the bistro to have the most excellent yummy snacks to enjoy over a formal meeting or a relaxed, casual time with friends.
Both these restaurants have opened to positive reviews and continue to get an appreciation for authentic food and long-lasting memories that bring together the best of the culinary world. The atmosphere at both the restaurants is warm, friendly and welcomes a natural feel of premium food without a high price or lavish interiors.
Compère Lapin has brought in fresh, authentic food with influence from the Caribbean, French and Italian cuisines. As you enter the restaurant, you are struck by the simplicity and well-presented food. The Compère Lapin menu covers lunch, dinner, brunch, dessert, drinks and the wine.
Indulge in some of the most exceptional lunch menus like whipped ricotta, heirloom tomatoes, radicchio and endive salad, bacon and a poached egg. Enjoy the dinner with marinated shrimp, roasted jalapeno jus or a light serving of spiced pig ears with smoked aioli.
You can never go wrong with your wine choices. Choose from the full range of white wine from France, Italy and Spain, Austria, Germany, South Africa and other international wines. Or go for the red wine from the Burgundy, Bordeaux, Piedmont and many others.
Bywater American Bistro
Carrying forward the legacy of delicious food, Bywater American Bistro has natural yet authentic food. It recently opened to good reviews from the critics and the public. Every meal is a celebration on its own with the eye-catching plating, tasty dishes and fantastic feeling that comes as you enter Bywater American Bistro. It lives up to the expectation that comes while dining at Nina Compton’s restaurants.
You get to have a relaxing brunch or dinner with your friends along with some fantastic cocktails. It’s a reasonably priced restaurant where foodies can have an excellent time. Even still, it's not only the food, but the service that has been well-received. The outstanding hospitality, friendly nature and comfortable seating add to the aura. The locally sourced ingredients are seasonal yet inventive.
Its attempt to stay true to its roots without compromising on fancy names or titles has attracted the best to critic her restaurants. The techniques and beautifully crafted dishes have floored the critics. Her dishes carry a distinct taste that’s hard to replicate or find in any other recipes. Single diners are well-attended to and made to feel at home.
Our Favorite Dishes You MUST Try
If you're anywhere near either of Nina Compton's restaurants, you simply must stop in and see what all the hype is about. We've scoured the menus for the best and most highly reviewed dishes. Indulge in a few of the following:
Compère Lapin - Oysters
You’ll find one of the most beautiful oyster dishes in New Orleans at Compere Lapin. The well-plated oyster dish is a treat to the eyes and has received rave reviews from its patrons. While Compere Lapin competes with other restaurants in the vicinity, the oysters fare better than those offered by others.
Compere Lapin - Biscuits with Bacon Butter
Biscuits with bacon butter and honey butter are a wonderful delight at Compère Lapin. Soft and made with a beautiful crust, it is the right mix for a day of any temperature. Compère Lapin Chef, Nina Compton, prepares the classic biscuit to go along with other delicacies. This New Orleans restaurant has some of the finest dishes that can make your day!
Bywater American Bistro - French Toast
Enjoy a tasty Bywater American Bistro brunch with the French toast. It comes along with the warm rum caramel, pecans, and sweet bananas. The avocado is whipped together with butter and herbs. The melt in your mouth smoked brisket, and the soft scramble is as tasty as its attractive presentation.
Bywater American Bistro - Crispy Bacon
Crispy rice with bacon, miatake mushrooms, and yolk jam are perfect for a complete meal without being too heavy. It looks equally tempting and has received great reviews from the regular customers at Bywater American Bistro.
Bywater American Bistro - Nutella Custard
For those having a sweet tooth, indulge in sweet Nutella custard made at Bywater American Bistro by Top Chef Nina Compton. The crystallized hazelnuts on top with lime make it irresistible even if you don’t enjoy sweets that often. You are sure to keep coming back for more desserts occasionally.
Nina Compton’s journey is incredible and inspiring for future cooks looking to take their passion to the next level.
By being consistent and persistent, Nina Compton has proven that achieving your dreams is possible. The list gives a peek into the exciting rise of Nina Compton.
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