It’s fair to say Saint Lucians like their food…and recently, many Lucians around the globe have had the extraordinary opportunity to witness one of our daughters of the soil, Chef Nina Compton, young, vibrant and super-proud of her Lucian heritage, taking the cooking world by storm while competing on the BravoTV’s Top Chef. Now down to the last 4 chefs out of an original 19 and with only 3 episodes left to air, Nina is up there making Saint Lucia proud having accumulated 3 WINS and 5 HIGH scores! Nina is currently the Chef de Cuisine at Scarpetta, at the Miami Fontainbleu. In an interview for CDF, Nina, daughter of Sir John and Lady Janice Compton, recalls some of her early influences and experience:
CDF: Growing up in Saint Lucia, what was your food experience?
Chef Nina: There is a huge focus on farm-to-table; many people have gardens and grow crops and cook them in their household or sell the market . This was ingrained in me at a young age.
CDF: Did you always like exploring food as a kid – Who introduced you to cooking?
Chef Nina: My parents and grandmother introduced me to cooking, my Mom is a great baker and I would always help her out , plus licking the spoon was a bonus!
CDF: What is your favourite Caribbean/Lucian ingredient Oor technique?
Chef Nina: I love Ackee even though Jamaicans use it more, I really enjoy it with bakes! Also cocoa tea is great as well – and what’s better than Johnnie black and coconut water?!
CDF: What are your memories of learning culinary arts in St. Lucia?
Chef Nina: I went to Castries Comprehensive where my teacher showed me the basics and I remember making guava cheese for the first time.
CDF: And what was your journey – the path to getting into college, study, work experience…some highs and lows and how you overcame or approached things
Chef Nina: I worked at Sandals La Toc then went to Sandals Montego Bay them to CIA in Hyde park. Staying determined and focused helped me get through the difficulties as a young chef, being consistent is key to being a chef and maintaining an open minded approach.
CDF: Your dream as a Chef?
Chef Nina: To come back home to teach upcoming chefs what I learnt oversees and how we can implement it in Saint Lucia – it’s harder than it sounds!
CDF: Ok! So what advice do you have for young chefs in Saint Lucia?
Chef Nina: My advice to young chefs…..Read, read, read!!! You cannot read enough! You can travel as much as possible also… And have an open mind!
CDF: Well, Chef Nina, we’d like to congratulate you on all your accomplishments so far and wish you continued success… and we do hope that dream of returning to Saint Lucia to share your experience will come true!
You can keep up with Chef Nina by following her on Twitter #teamnina and ‘Like’ her Facebook page www.facebook.com/chefninacompton.