ST. LUCIA (June 26) – Chef Nina Compton, first runner-up and fan favorite in the “Top Chef New Orleans” series, plans to put the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia on the culinary map.
Recently appointed as the first culinary ambassador of St. Lucia, the Caribbean chef hopes to lure legions of foodies and visitors to the island with promises of indigenous ingredients and forward-thinking food producers.
The now-famous chef grew up in an epicurean paradise—an island that produces healthy supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables; sports African, British and French influences; and has access to some of the world’s best seafood.
“Chefs in St. Lucia are doing amazing things with native foods,” said Compton. “I love stumbling upon customary dishes that feature new flavors and locally grown ingredients. It’s a melding of tradition and exploration.”
St. Lucia’s restaurants run the gamut from fine dining to homey and casual, with menus across the island capturing the local flavor.
Spotlighting local St. Lucian fare, she pointed out, “Chef Bobo Bergstrom has introduced fusion dishes at the Edge that combine imported flavors with ingredients that were foraged on [the] island, while Feddo’s in Soufriere offers a to-the-point menu, featuring classic blackened fish in garlic butter served with fresh creole bread.”
Compton is the daughter of former St. Lucia Prime Minister and “Father of Independence” Sir John Compton. A revered luminary, John Compton created and led the United Workers Party in 1964, served three times as prime minister and negotiated the island’s independence from Great Britain in 1979.
While serving as St. Lucia’s culinary ambassador, Nina Compton will be the focal point of a social media push by the St. Lucia Tourist Board, participate in a series of online chats later this summer and take part in food demonstrations and media appearances.
“Chef Nina brings to life the island’s homegrown ingredients and rich agricultural heritage,” explained Director of Tourism Louis Lewis. “This platform provides St. Lucia with a unique opportunity to educate and engage new audiences.”
Throughout August, Nina Compton will lead the charge in celebrating St. Lucia’s Chocolate Heritage Month, sharing chocolate-inspired recipes and highlighting the many ways to enjoy the beloved island delicacy.
“Cacao has been cultivated on St. Lucia for hundreds of years,” explained Nina Compton. “It is one of the island’s most notable foods, and it’s extraordinarily versatile. St. Lucians use the spice in everything from cocoa tea for breakfast, to a rub for fish and meats.”
For Chocolate Heritage Month, the St. Lucia Tourist Board will launch an interactive chocolate heritage trail on www.stlucianow.com, chocolate-inspired lodging packages and a Nina Compton Pinterest board featuring her favorite chocolate-infused recipes.
Nina Compton served as chef de cuisine at Scarpetta, in the famed Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Nina Compton began her culinary career at storied chef Daniel Boulud’s Daniel restaurant in New York City before moving on to Palme d’Or and Casa Casuarina in Miami.