A native of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, Nina Compton is the chef/owner of Compère Lapin in New Orleans. She worked with Daniel Boulud in Manhattan and Norman Van Aken and Scott Conant in Miami. She’s also competed on Bravo’s Top Chef, where she was a fan favorite. At Compère Lapin in the Old No. 77 Hotel, her menu is a mélange of influences that include Caribbean, Italian and English (her grandmother is British). Compère was named a best new restaurant by The Huffington Post.
1. Rational Combi Oven. If you know how to use it properly, you can complete almost any kitchen task: sous vide, dehydration—the list goes on and on. It’s a singular piece of go-to equipment in our kitchen.
2. The humble spoon. Cooks are judged by their spoons; how many they have, what brand and size and their age. When you pick up an unfamiliar spoon, more times than not, it just doesn’t feel right.
3. The Flavor Bible. It’s such a good reference book! When I have a specific ingredient in mind that I want to highlight, I start with this book by just reading classic flavor affinities and accent ingredients. Once you have a list of ingredients you want to use, you can apply your own technique to each one and create a new dish.
4. Berkel Vacuum Machine. We bag things to cook them and store. It saves so much space in our walk-in cooler and freezer. You can bag liquids to have them in pre-portioned amounts. If you want to freeze them, lie them flat on a sheet tray and they freeze quickly and stack perfectly in boxes. We also bag seafood to submerge fully in ice and keep it really fresh.
5. Chuck Taylors. I’ve had the same pairs forever. I wear them in and out of the kitchen. Converse even featured me in a Chuck Taylor ad.