January 16, 2024

IN CONVERSATION WITH SILVER NOVA’S GODMOTHER, CHEF NINA COMPTON

Watch: Barbara Muckermann, Silversea’s President, talks with Nina Compton

A champion of cultural discovery and human connection, Chef Compton’s values align with those at the heart of Silversea’s immersive S.A.L.T. culinary program

(Miami, FL – January 16, 2024) On January 4, during an intimate ceremony to mark the official naming of its newest ship, Silversea announced Nina Compton as the Godmother of Silver Nova. Born in Saint Lucia, resident of New Orleans, and trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Compton is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and TV personality, whose ethos perfectly aligns with Silversea’s immersive S.A.L.T. culinary program.

“I am honored to have been named Godmother of Silver Nova,” said Nina Compton. “Throughout my life, I have explored the many ways in which the world’s cuisines – especially that of my home nation, St. Lucia, and the Caribbean more broadly – strengthen human connections, facilitate cultural discovery, and honor heritage, tradition, and identity. I believe food and drink have the power to bond people, providing insight into a community’s customs as a unifying language. I hope that my journey inspires Silver Nova’s guests to connect meaningfully with the destinations they visit and their people, forging strong relationships, broadening horizons, and providing self-enrichment.”

Compton began her culinary career at world-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant ‘Daniel’ in New York City. She followed this with stints helping to lead high-profile kitchens, including the ‘Palme d’Or’ in the Biltmore Hotel and ‘Scarpetta’ at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. After competing on Season 11 of Top Chef in New Orleans, finishing runner-up, and being voted ‘fan favorite’ by viewers, Compton fell in love with the Crescent City. In 2015, Compton opened her own Caribbean-inspired restaurant in New Orleans, named ‘Compère Lapin’, after a mischievous rabbit of the same name from traditional Caribbean folktales. The restaurant mixes the indigenous ingredients and rich culinary heritage of New Orleans with those of her Caribbean roots and quickly became one of the most celebrated restaurants in America. In 2018, the James Beard Foundation honored her with the award for ‘Best Chef: South’. In 2018, Compton opened a second New Orleans restaurant, ‘Bywater American Bistro’.

In the following interview, Compton shares insight on her outlook on travel, her culinary philosophies, her love of mangoes, and more.

What did you think when you were asked to be Godmother of Silver Nova?

It was definitely not expected. When I got the phone call, I was shocked and very excited at the same time. Cruise ships create a unique experience centered on food and entertainment, and that’s what I do.

You’re a big traveler. How did that start?

I worked at Sandals, the resort company, for a while. That really inspired me because I was able to travel and do what I love. I’ve found you can travel and cook anywhere in the world. Food really is the universal language.

What do you do when you travel?

I like to go somewhere with my husband that we’ve never been. It’s really about drawing inspiration from different countries. We went recently to Portugal’s Madeira Island, and I found so many types of bananas there. When we went to Brazil, it was about understanding the Afro-Latin cuisine. It’s important to me to go home once a year, to immerse myself in the food I grew up in. I’m constantly learning, but I also try to take time off.

Where did you hone your cooking skills?

I worked at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in New York. Then I went to Miami and worked at the Biltmore Hotel, then at Norman van Aken’s restaurant in Coral Gables, Florida, and then Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach. I met my husband when we were working at Casa Casuarina, the former Versace Mansion in Miami’s South Beach.

You have won many awards as a chef. What is at the root of your successes?

I was always pushing myself to do something, but I never thought I would be on Top Chef or win a James Beard Award. I learned from my dad [Sir John George Melvin Compton, St. Lucia’s first prime minister] to never pay attention to the people around you because you’re then spending all your energy on them instead of keeping your eyes on your goal. A lot of the success comes from not having an ego. It’s easy for people to get their heads filled up. It’s important for me to keep my head down and do what I do and what I love.

How did you end up in New Orleans?

My husband and I married in June 2009. When we were planning our honeymoon, we wanted to go to New Orleans, but we just never got around to it. Then when I was in the Top Chef show, it was filmed in New Orleans. Something about this city speaks to people; it really pulls you in – the feel of it and the energy. It’s very tropical and colorful and rich with history. We’ve been here almost nine years, and I’m still learning something new about the city every day.

What makes for a great dish?

The ingredients are crucial. Seasonality is very important. So is being loyal to those farmers who have the same passions as we do about the integrity of the ingredients. A lot of dishes we create are a story that comes from a trip or from when I grew up. Mangoes are one of my favorite ingredients. When I was a child, mango season was always my favorite time, when the air was perfumed with this sweet smell. There are over 300 types of mango, and I think a lot of people who think they don’t like mangoes get the wrong variety. If you get a nice meaty one, it’s like eating a peach.

You own three restaurants in New Orleans. How do you stay sane?

I don’t get much time out of the kitchen. It’s a long day. My downtime consists of getting up and sitting outside and reading the paper. Sitting outside is really important for me. I get up around 7:30 or 8 a.m. and check my emails and voicemails. After that, I make a cup of coffee, and my husband and I sit outside with the dogs — we’ve adopted two rescues. My husband and I talk about which restaurant he’ll be at and about the business. I’m very lucky to have my husband understand my day. It takes a bit of the stress out. A lot of people don’t know how much work goes into creating a dish or creating a service. Staying sane really comes down to organization, I have learned the power of saying ‘no.’ We get a lot of asks, but I just have to say no to a lot of things that stretch me too thin.

What is your advice for travelers?

I really want people to be open-minded when they travel, and to push themselves out of their comfort zones. So many people just stay at the resort and never go to the local restaurants. They should try to get off the beaten track and eat like a local when they go out. They’ll learn more about the place.

View the full article on Silversea’s blog, Discover:

https://discover.silversea.com/ships/silver-nova/chef-nina-compton-christens-silver-nova/

Find out more information on Silver Nova:

https://www.silversea.com/ships/silver-nova.html

About Silversea
Silversea is recognized as an innovator in the ultra-luxury cruise industry, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Nova®, Silver Dawn℠, Silver Shadow®, Silver Whisper®, Silver Spirit®, Silver Muse®, and Silver Moon℠ – all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the inclusion of the expedition ships Silver Endeavour℠, Silver Origin®, Silver Wind®, and Silver Cloud®, Silversea's itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Galápagos, both Polar Regions and hundreds of fascinating destinations in between. Silversea is also looking forward to the launch of the ultra-luxury new Nova-class ship, Silver Ray℠. Silversea is one of five cruise brands owned by global cruise company Royal Caribbean Group. (NYSE: RCL)

About Royal Caribbean Group
Royal Caribbean Group (NYSE: RCL) is one of the leading cruise companies in the world with a global fleet of 64 ships traveling to approximately 1,000 destinations around the world. Royal Caribbean Group is the owner and operator of three award-winning cruise brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises and it is also a 50% owner of a joint venture that operates TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Together, the brands have an additional 10 ships on order as of September 30, 2023. Learn more at www.royalcaribbeangroup.com or www.rclinvestor.com.