Chef Nina Compton Restaurant Name And Concept Revealed
NEW ORLEANS – One of New Orleans’ most anticipated restaurant openings of the year has a name – Compère Lapin – and a target opening date – June 2015.
Owned and operated by Chef Nina Compton, in partnership with Provenance Hotels, Compère Lapin will be a neighborhood restaurant, housed in the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in the Crescent City’s Warehouse Arts District.
“The opening will truly be a dream come true for me,” says Compton, who fell in love with New Orleans when she filmed there as a contestant on BRAVO’s award-winning Top Chef (Season 11: New Orleans). “The idea for Compère Lapin has been years in development and I couldn’t have found a better home for it than this amazing city.”
The inspiration for the name Compère Lapin [pronounced kom-pare la-pan and translated to “brother rabbit”] goes back to Compton’s childhood in St. Lucia where she read traditional Caribbean folktales featuring a mischievous rabbit named Compère Lapin.
“Compère Lapin was a trickster, always up to something, and stories of his adventures thrilled me as a kid,” Compton says. “When I began researching the history of Louisiana for the restaurant, I came across the same folk tale, written in the patois of Creole French. I knew immediately there was a synergy between where I come from and my new home. We hope to bring the story’s same sense of fun, exploration and play to everything we’re doing here.”
The restaurant’s look will echo the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery’s blend of rustic charm and modernity with a progressive menu informed by the chef’s island roots, classic French training and the melting pot that is New Orleans’ incomparable food scene. The central bar, sure to be a new must-try watering hole with a progressive cocktail menu, spans the space, offering great views of the open kitchen. Bookending it will be an eat-in raw bar – perfect for those looking for a great beer, killer cocktail and fresh-from-the-sea selections – and a grab n’ go marketplace.
The playful menu at Compère Lapin will combine the robust, big flavors from Compton’s Caribbean upbringing with her love for French and Italian cuisine, while highlighting the beauty of the Gulf and Louisiana’s indigenous ingredients. Menu items, still in development, may include:
• Conch croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce
• Crispy pig ears with smoked aioli
• Orecchiette with pork cheeks and arugula
• Banana zeppoles with salted rum caramel
The opening of the restaurant will come on the heels of the Old NO. 77 Hotel & Chandlery’s spring opening. Provenance Hotels, which owns and operates the hotel, is no stranger to facilitating projects by top culinary talent. The company is fresh off recent successes, most notable partnering with James Beard Award-winner and Iron Chef America champion Vitaly Paley, who opened Imperial at Hotel Lucia in Portland and James Beard Award-winner Jason Wilson who opened Miller’s Guild at Hotel Max in Seattle.
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is located at the intersection of Tchoupitoulas and Lafayette Streets, just blocks from the French Quarter and steps from the art galleries along Julia Street. In keeping with the neighborhood’s artistic roots, the hotel’s guestrooms feature art from students of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).
Prior to her star turn on Top Chef and partnership with Provenance Hotels, Compton, a St. Lucia native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, served as chef de cuisine at Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, where she worked with celebrity chef and restaurateur Scott Conant.