Nina Compton Announces New Dinner Series for February
With pitch-black cast iron pots, worn wooden spoons and produce from the gardens they tended, enslaved cooks gave rise to much of our country’s culinary heritage and certainly gave us some of our most satisfying cuisine.
In her 1976 book “The Taste of Country Cooking,” legendary chef Edna Lewis set the agenda for modern Southern cuisine and started a culinary wave that celebrated the diversity and rich history of Southern cuisine. The movement continues as today’s Black chefs create “reclamation cuisine,” — modern Southern cuisine creatively honoring its African roots. Mashama Bailey, an acclaimed chef who was compellingly profiled in the Netflix series Chef’s Table, serves as a good example as she pays homage to her roots through the dishes she serves at The Grey Restaurant in Georgia.
Also active in this movement is culinary historian Michael Twitty. In his blog, Afroculinaria, he explains where Southern food really comes from and gives well deserved credit to the enslaved African Americans who were part of its creation. We can also look to the writings of New Orleanian Lolis Eric Elie — one of the founders of the Southern Foodways Alliance and author of “Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans” — to get another insight into the contributions of Black chefs and cooks.
Beginning in February, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in the South, Nina Compton, will give a nod to this movement by paying tribute to the amalgamation of cultures and cuisine that have contributed to America’s Black culinary community with a series of collaborative dinners.
These dinners will take place at her flagship restaurant, Compère Lapin. The month-long series will showcase the talents of some of the Crescent City’s brilliant Black culinary artists.
“February is Black History Month, and while we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, I wanted to find a safe way to bring people together to celebrate and commemorate this very important event,” says Compton. “I also wanted to find a way to collaborate with the many talented people I’ve always wanted to cook with. These dinners are a way for us all to celebrate the amazing local Black chefs we have here and showcase their various backgrounds and the diversity of New Orleans.”
To kick things off, on Thursday, Feb. 4, Compton will pair with the iconic Linda Green, known as the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady. For decades, the award-winning chef has been serving up her Ya-Ka-Mein, fried pork chop, gumbo and bread pudding to people from all over the world.
Among her many accolades and awards, she was named the winner of “Chopped” Pride of New Orleans and appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show, “No Reservations.”
The evening’s guests will enjoy a multi-course prix fixe dinner that will feature an array of dishes from both chefs, including Green’s Crawfish Macaroni and Cheese and her famed Ya-Ka-Mein.
The other February collaborations will include Biruk Alemayehu, of Ethiopian restaurant Addis NOLA; Lisa “Queen Trini” Nelson, of Queen Trini Trinidadian restaurant; and Eve Haydel, of Dookie Chase restaurant — granddaughter of the legendary Leah Chase.
Compton is a native of St. Lucia who fell in love with the Crescent City while filming “Top Chef New Orleans,” where she was named runner-up and fan favorite. Compton is also chef/owner of Bywater American Bistro.
“I wake up each day loving what I do,” she says. “It is so gratifying to create, inspire and bring people together over food, and hopefully leave a lasting happy memory.”
For reservations and additional information, visit www.comperelapin.com.