You get a meld of Caribbean and Italian flavors at this one-night-only takeover on Wednesday, September 27 at Fusco in New York City—and for New Yorkers, a delicious introduction to NOLA chef Nina Compton of Compère Lapin.

It started with the Caribbean pepper pot.

“I told her to take the lead, ‘cook the things you want to do,’” says Scott Conant, the Best New Chef alum and entrepreneurial chef behind Italian spots across the country, most recently Fusco in New York City.

This instruction led to the fragrant, Scotch Bonnet pepper-powered stew typically made with beef or pork, but for one night at Fusco, fortified with luscious lobster—and dreamed up by 2017 Best New Chef Nina Compton of Compère Lapin in New Orleans.

It’s the foundation of the menu Compton is collaborating on with Conant, her old boss back at Scarpetta in Miami Beach, for a one-night kitchen takeover at Fusco on Wednesday, 9/27. Call ahead or email to reserve a spot at this four-course dinner with beverage pairings ($150 a person) to get a taste of what it’s like when two friends who happen to be Best New Chefs decide to cook together like old times.

Garganelli at Fusco
Credit: Nicole Franzen

Conant remembers the first time he met Compton: She was applying for another restaurant in the hotel Scarpetta occupied but instead landed in his kitchen.

“Speaking to her for five minutes, I realized she was a very special individual,” he says. “That balance of humility and goodness. That’s what her food is as well.

In the days leading up to this dinner, their mutual fixation on Caribbean pepper pot opened the door to how the two chefs could connect their styles. There’s cocoa-cured hamachi with avocado and preserved truffle risotto scooped out of a Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel. Then, broccoli rabe ravioli with pickled apricot, followed by jerk halibut.

Fusco Restaurant
Credit: © Nicole Franzen

Conant and Compton haven’t cooked together in years—not since Scarpetta days—but they’ve kept in touch.

“Before she went on Top Chef, I told her, ‘Whatever happens, you must be who you are,” Conant says. “And don’t f*cking embarrass us. We laughed about it afterwards. She’s elegant and graceful, and there’s nothing she could do to embarrass us.”

Compton’s residency is the first in a guest chef series, Conant is hoping to start at Fusco. Next up is Evan Funke of Felix in Los Angeles.

“New Yorkers, we get so absorbed with New York City restaurants, but some of the better food is being cooked outside of New York,” says Conant. “I’m happy to make this night about Nina, and for her to cook for people who haven’t eaten her food before.”