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Nina Compton, chef de cuisine Scarpetta

Nina Compton, chef de cuisine at Scarpetta, the Fontainebleau’s fabulous outpost of the equally named New York City Italian restaurant, has lived in her South Beach apartment for five years. It is a rental and the kitchen is tiny “but at the same time very efficient,” she said.

She and her husband, Larry, who works as a restaurant manager in Boca Raton, have filled it with personal mementos and meaningful knickknacks that infuse the space with sentimental value and tons of charm. From the “I Heart NY” framed postcard she picked up when she dined at Momofuko in the Big Apple to a clothes pin a friend brought back after a night at the French Laundry in Napa Valley to an old bottle of Limoncello she bought on a trip to Italy, Compton’s collection of objects “brings warmth to the kitchen and reminds me of different things and experiences. They take me back.”

A 34-year-old St. Lucia native, she was instantly drawn to the kitchen’s small gas stove “because you can’t really find apartments with gas stoves in Miami. And they’re great to cook on; you can really see the flames and control them.” Yet, of all the items to which she feels personal attachment, none has more pull, she said, than her beloved French coffee press. “We drink a lot of coffee in this house,” she said. “And that French press is very important. It’s so much better than a drip coffee maker because it makes the coffee richer and more robust. And the flavor is great.” The other appliance she can’t live without? “My KitchenAid because I use it to make fresh pasta on my days off, when my husband and I have dinner at home,” she said. “I’ll make clam sauce with homemade scialatelli pasta and we’ll have a nice glass of red wine. I’ll keep things simple and delicious.”

See chef Nina Compton at Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best, sponsored by Bank of America, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. For details, go to