Chef Nina – Saint Lucia’s Proud! ‘Top Chef’ in our Hearts!

So to Chef Nina, daughter of Saint Lucia, world class top chef…Congratulations! Not only have you made us all so proud, you have served your country superbly, an ambassador for the best of Saint Lucian spirit! You may not have won the top spot in the show, but in our hearts (and it seems the hearts of the fans!) you are our winner!

Chef Nina fever was in the halls of the Cultural Development Foundation yesterday – conversations about where you were watching Nina last night punctuated work all day long…a trip to town to get Chef Nina earrings was part of the lunch hour. The Chairman of the Board, several days ago reminded me to write a congratulatory message to Nina ‘”Whether she wins Top Chef or not, she’s already won!”

nina earring

Chef Nina Compton’s Saint Lucia flag earrings kept her island home up front and centre on Top Chef

The power of being able to witness one of our own competing at the highest level and winning hearts all round the world has affected many in the creative fields of work – we’re almost accustomed now to our singers making waves around the world – that history has a long life already with Tessanne Chin being the latest to take the Caribbean to the world in song, but having a Chef make this kind of mark…now that’s a first!

Quite by chance I had the opportunity to chat with Nina’s Mum, Lady Janice Compton yesterday afternoon – her recounting of Nina’s journey was even more inspiring: talking of her daughter’s earlier love of agriculture and wanting to follow her Father’s footsteps and become an agriculturalist, Nina set off to the UK to get a feel for what the possibilities within agriculture could be – visiting amongst other places, some of the UK’s beautiful gardens, but her attention was inexorably drawn towards the Culinary Arts and so she let her parents know that this was the course she’d decided to pursue.

Mindful of the challenge their daughter would be taking on in such a high demand career, the Compton parents advised her to see what working in the world of professional kitchens would actually be like…well, apparently Nina was very much up for the challenge because today, after starting in our local Sandals Hotel, Nina has brought her whole island-home with her on one fantastic voyage of culinary adventure!

Her journey is becoming well-documented – Nina herself says it has not been easy – it is a story of dedication, learning, growing, creating, in a fiercely competitive industry … watching the final last night was nerve-wracking and you could see just how challenging performing at this level of excellence is for anyone in the field.  Yet Chef Nina has achieved great heights and shown that it is indeed possible for a ‘small island girl’ to be up there as one of the best!

Before Top Chef  Nina was already the Chef de Cuisine at one of Miami’s top restaurants – and Miami is not an easy place to be top in any field! Reviews of her and her work online all recount a story of someone who demonstrates excellence not just on the plate, but in all aspects of her work-life  – her team spirit at the Scarpetta, her dedication to learning – as she herself recounted in her advice to the up and coming Saint Lucian chefs in our earlier interview with Nina, to “Read, read, read!!! You cannot read enough!” – and which her Mum confirmed, saying that Nina’s colleagues report her love of reading about her passion at every chance she gets.

Nina answered so simply when asked what’s her dream “To come back home to teach upcoming chefs what I learnt oversees and how we can implement it in Saint Lucia – it’s harder than it sounds!” When you think about it, the world is this young woman’s oyster but the dream she has up front and centre is to bring it back home to pave the path for young people inspired to follow in her footsteps. That’s National Pride!

Having watched her in the Top Chef series I see a young woman who has a deep passion for her work – humble in the truest sense: determined to do her best but always striving to remain open to growth, ready to help, happy to be amongst friends, moved by the support and admiration of others.

Congratulations Chef Nina – for all that you have achieved professionally and for igniting the National spirit here on Saint Lucia! We all look forward to seeing you back home one day soon we hope!

Author: Finola Prescott, Dir. Business Development & Marketing

One of Chef Nina's fans - David Foster - made this banner for Nina on Facebook

One of Chef Nina’s fans – David Foster – made this banner for Nina on Facebook

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