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The Inspiration Behind Chef Nina Compton’s New Orleans Restaurants

In episode one, see the chef share the story behind her restaurants — and order her famous dishes for yourself.

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Courtesy of Nina Compton

The history of America can be told through migration. Movement is constant and the impact of the Black diaspora is felt everywhere — most profoundly, perhaps, in food. Even chef Marcus Samuelsson’s story is one of migration, from Ethiopia to Sweden to New York to Miami and back again.

For Black people, it is a constantly evolving and modern story that stretches from the forced removal from Africa in 1619, to the colonization of the Caribbean islands, to the present day. Even today, young people are still making moves across city, state, and country lines, in the relentless pursuit of a better life.

When it comes to Black food, ingredients don’t just add flavor — they tell the story of a rich culture. Who better to tell this story than Nina Compton, the daughter of an English mother and a Caribbean father? Raised in St. Lucia, Compton now resides in one of the most vibrant mixing pots in America, New Orleans. For her, all roads lead back to the Caribbean, and at her restaurants Compere Lapin and Bywater, she tells her migration story on each plate she prepares. When it all comes together, it leads to simple, soulful food that makes you feel at home — wherever that may be today.

What to order from Compère Lapin in New Orleans, Red Rooster Harlem and Red Rooster Overtown: Goat Curry with Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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