TIMES-PICAYUNE – Nina Compton, the “Top Chef: New Orleans” contender, has unveiled the name and menu details for the New Orleans restaurant she will helm at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in the Warehouse District.
Compère Lapin will open in June, following the spring debut of the hotel.
Compton looked back to the folktales of her Caribbean childhood in naming the restaurant.
“Compère Lapin was a trickster, always up to something, and stories of his adventures thrilled me as a kid,” Compton said in a prepared statement. “When I began researching the history of Louisiana for the restaurant, I came across the same folk tale, written in the patois of Creole French. I knew immediately there was a synergy between where I come from and my new home. We hope to bring the story’s same sense of fun, exploration and play to everything we’re doing here.”
Compton’s proposed menu will combine the robust cuisine of the Caribbean — she grew up on St. Lucia — with elements of French and Italian cuisine. The chef moved here in March and has been researching Louisiana’s indigenous ingredients, too.
“I’ve been hitting the local farmers markets and meeting with tons of purveyors, from fishermen to coffee roasters,” she said.
Although the final menu is still in development, Compton and her partners shared details in an April 16 press release:
Conch croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce
Crispy pig ears with smoked aioli
Orecchiette with pork cheeks and arugula
Banana zeppoles with salted rum caramel
Compton was most recently the chef de cuisine at Scarpetta in Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel, an Italian restaurant created by celebrity chef Scott Conant. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America.
On the New Orleans season of “Top Chef” (broadcast early 2014) Compton placed second. Many viewers, however, were sure she would be the winner. Compton was also voted the “fan favorite.”