Chef Nina Compton may not have won first prize on Top Chef this past season in New Orleans, but the St. Lucia native scored the coveted Fan Favorite award and is now mobbed by admirers wherever she goes. Trained in French, Caribbean and Italian kitchens, Compton has worked under renowned chefs Daniel Boulud and Scott Conant, but is currently spending her time aboard the Celebrity Solstice as part of Celebrity’s Top Chef at Sea series.
We recently caught up with the self-proclaimed “gnocchi queen” to chat about her culinary influences and which of her fellow Top Chef alumni she’d like to partner up with.
If you were stuck on an island with three ingredients, what would you choose and why?
Champagne, because you can always have a glass of champagne; a good piece of cheese, because it goes well with the champagne; and avocados. I love them, especially with grilled fish. They also make a great moisturizer and hair conditioner.
What part of the world inspires your cuisine?
I read a lot about different cultures and cuisines and try to use that in my cooking. I especially love Latin flavors as I live in Miami and it’s similar to Caribbean cooking. I also love French and Italian, as they are so similar and different at the same time.
What country would you like to travel to and why?
I would love to go Greece or Turkey just to experience the culture and food.
If you could open a restaurant with a Top Chef contestant from another season, who would you choose and why?
I would open a restaurant with Shirley Chung from season 11. We get along well both in and out of the kitchen; we can almost read each other’s minds without even having to speak.
If you were not a chef, what would you be doing right now?
I would be a DJ. I love music and try to incorporate it in every way that I can on a daily basis, whether I am in the kitchen or not. It’s a way to escape sometimes.
Who inspired your love of food?
My family. We are very close and we sit down and have a meal together whenever I am back in St. Lucia; it makes me appreciate the time we have together so much more and to be surrounded by food makes it even better.