Dining With a Diplomat

About This Project

Essence Magazine

Warning: Visiting Nina Compton’s Instagram page may lead to hunger, increased wanderlust and the making of a new friend in your head. The Miami chef, whom you might recognize from TV’s Top Chef, is the culinary ambassador for St. Lucia, a job that takes her around the world serving up a little island flavor at every stop. Among her biggest inspirations from her Caribbean childhood: her father’s emphasis on a farm-to-table diet and the open-air market, where before sunrise shoppers can find a host of just-picked produce, get fish straight from the ocean and grab a chicken that’s running around. “Having those fresh ingredients at my fingertips stuck with me,” says Compton. “We used a lot of curry, ginger, turmeric, infused spices and oils, so now I try to use them as much as possible.” The homage to home is important to this South Beach chef, who is known to add a Caribbean touch to French and Italian techniques. “I tell people that whatever you are cooking, that’s an expression of yourself that you put on a plate,” she says.

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