At the end of March I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural events Top Taco and Bourbon Festival in New Orleans. I had never been to the city and I was so excited to see and EAT everything New Orleans had to offer. Once the trip was book I immediately made sure I had a reservation at Compere Lapin. That’s the restaurant inside the Old No. 77 Hotel, where I knew I would find former Miami chef, Nina Compton, who I had been missing since she moved to New Orleans just over two years ago.
Nina was the Top Chef, Season 11 Runner Up and Fan Favorite and always one of my personal favorites. She was previously at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in the Fontainebleau before she made her way to New Orleans. Since then she’s been nominated for James Beard Best Chef in the South 2017 and was just named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in America 2017. As a fan who is so happy for her New Orleans success I was really pumped to see and taste what she’s been up to lately.
An added bonus at my delicious Compere Lapin lunch, was getting to chat with her while devouring some of her bestselling dishes like the Hot Fire Chicken and the Curried Goat.
Here’s what we chatted about:
- What inspired the big move to the Big Easy?
I always wanted to live in New Orleans. The culture here is like no other - food and music is the base for everything. What more could you ask for?!
- What are the main differences in the Miami food scene versus New Orleans?
The influences are different. Miami has strong Latin roots, where New Orleans has French, Creole and Spanish.
- How has your cooking style changed and what most influences it?
Living in Nola, I have gone back to my roots using bolder flavors and also incorporating local ingredients.
- What's your favorite thing on your current menu?
The curried goat is a dish that I thought people would never order - it's our number one selling dish.
- What's your biggest food guilty pleasure in New Orleans?
I really enjoy going to the Napoleon house for a drink and people watching but the biggest is any and all of the food at Jazz Fest. The first year I was blown away. Best pheasant gumbo I have ever had!
Everything at Compere Lapin was outstanding just as I knew it would be. At one point during our lunch, Nina was “just playing around in the kitchen” and sent out an off menu Green Pea & Black Truffle Gnocchi that was so good; it almost brought me to tears. If she doesn’t win the James Beard, then she’s seriously being robbed – but she will always be a winner in my book!
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
535 Tchoupitoulas St.
New Orleans, LA 70130