Monday night was bittersweet as Nina Compton took control of the kitchen one last time and cooked her last supper for the Magic City. The former Scarpetta chef de cuisine and Top Chef: New Orleans runner-up (as well as fan favorite) is trading South Beach for the French Quarter in less than a week, but not without a proper goodbye -- one that included four-courses, good friends, and, of course, gnocchi.
See also: Nina Compton Leaves Scarpetta (Video)
For those who are desolate about Compton's upcoming departure next Monday, rest assured that the chef is feeling it too. "Leaving Miami wasn't easy because I have been here for so long and developed friendships with so many people," she says. "After doing the show my fan base got even bigger and everyone was so supportive and behind me 100 percent in everything I did and I am forever thankful for that."
Fans who've been eating and following Compton's food for the past decade packed the house at Café Mistral during the chef's last hoorah. She had invited longtime friend and former Scarpetta colleague Michael Pirolo to join her in the minute kitchen. Scarpetta servers left the swank Italian joint to be able to work with the chef one last time.
The evening kicked off with an amuse bouche of crispy buttermilk chicken skin that left you wanting more -- 20 more.
Dainty tuna bresaola and compressed pears topped a bed of arugula.
Squash and smoked bacon swam in a pool of turnip salsa verde spiked with dashi and pig's feet. On a cool night, this multi-layered dish warmed everyone's soul and created a moment of silence that was broken only by slurping.
There's no way the gnocchi queen was going to leave without serving up her specialty one last time. The perfect potato pasta dumplings were coupled with saltfish, gremolata, and citrus oil that took the dish to another level. The more you ate it, the more you liked it.
The last supper was brought to a close with the French creole classic bananas foster, as well as thoughts of what will be missed most about Compton. The chef has a list of things she'll miss about Miami. "The warmth and spirit of people here, especially when going to Latin restaurants," she says. "It just has a vibe about them and also the food, like tostones and mojo or vaca frita with black beans and rice, humble and tasty."
The chef prefers to not see it as a final farewell. "This is not good-bye Miami, because I have been rooted in community for over a decade, so I will maintain my connections here and try and arrange as many trips as I can to get back here. Miami has been a second home for me. Hopefully I will be back."
And if not, there's always road tripping up to NOLA when Compton opens up her new digs.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha
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