Top Chef: New Orleans fan favorite and runner-up Nina Compton is returning to the city that made her a household name to launch her very first restaurant. Compère Lapin will open in New Orleans on June 2 and will feature the unique blend of French, Italian and Caribbean influences that gained Nina multiple challenge wins on the show.
"I know I have to work that much harder because there’s so much hype behind me," Nina tells The New Orleans Advocate. "There’s that added pressure to live up to the expectations people will bring here."
Nina will be opening the restaurant with her husband Larry Miller and explains that she fell in love with the Southern city while she was filming Top Chef. "We saw this place and thought it could be something very special. We picked up and decided to start a new life and see where it would go from there. I always wanted to live in New Orleans. There’s something about it that just pulls you in."
Nina's former boss, Scarpetta chef Scott Conant, seems to have no doubt that Nina is the right woman for the job. "She can outwork anybody, and that can be intimidating, but she always used that to motivate people, not to bring them down," he says. "She utilized her passion for the work to engage their passion, and that’s a good leader."
As for Nina herself, she proves that she continues to believe in hard work above all. “I know the buzz will only last so long, so it’s about building a culture with your staff, not just saying things but following through and being consistent," she says of her new role as restaurateur.
[Source: The New Orleans Advocate]