There was this moment, shortly after the finale of Top Chef: New Orleans had aired, shortly after Nick Elmi had been named the winner, when another chef walked up to him at one of the big food events in town, shook his hand, congratulated him, and asked him what the hell he was thinking, opening a 22-seat restaurant.
Because, seriously? When you win Top Chef, you suddenly become one of the most famous chefs in America. At least temporarily. Shoot, even losing on the show can be enough to raise you up out of obscurity and turn you into a brand — a known name who can draw down the dollars just by having been featured on the jumping box for a few hours. Cookbook deals, product endorsements, cruise-ship gigs — it all comes to you. And a big-ass restaurant with high-volume turnover on the floor? Of course. That’s just a given.
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Nick Elmi’s BYO, Laurel has captured the appetites of those who frequent East Passyunk’s restaurant scene. And chef Elmi’s Traditional (but not traditional) Clambake needs only his introduction (below) for you to understand that this recipe is indeed very special.
So fire up the grill, gather everyone you know (seriously, this one calls for a party) and get your ingredients together because this weekend seems like the perfect time for a clambake.
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In a very Philly Beer Week edition of Sancho Pistola’s Taco Exchange. Nick Elmi and his crew from Laurel are heading to Fishtown to make an oxtail double decker taco with fermented black beans and epazote. Lagunitas Brewery’s beers will be featured for the event that begins at 9 p.m.
Sancho Pistola’s [Foobooz]
Nick Elmi’s Laurel
Peekytoe Crab, Maine Sea Urchin, Smoked Trout Roe, Melon & Yuzu Potage
had a few last second tables
for tonight. A rare case indeed, and if you were lucky enough to snare one, here’s a new dish you could be enjoying this evening.
Open Stove XXII was on Monday night, and like most of our Open Stove events, the guests got drunk. Not just because of the beer and wine, but because of the shots of Jameson tossed both into the food and down the throats of the patrons and chefs. It was a crazy night of Irish kitchen shenanigans, all in the spirit of St. Patty’s Day. Because we’re well into March, aren’t we? And it just seemed like the right time to start celebrating.
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Nick Elmi’s Laurel has just tweeted that the BYOB is taking reservations for June (yes, June) from now until 5 p.m. today.
Get them now, they’re sure to be going fast.
Nick Elmi is having quite the 2014 so far. His win on Top Chef became public, his Laurel has been praised by the critics and has just been nominated for a James Beard Award for Top New Restaurant. All of this has made his restaurant impossible to get into. Elmi is preparing to open up June resteverations to Laurel sometime next week.
This past weekend he appeared on CBS This Morning and talked about his start in the kitchen and prepared a rustic cacciucco dish for the show.
So it’s not like Laurel was easy to get into before chef Nick Elmi was named Top Chef last week. With 22 seats, a five-night-a-week dinner schedule and an already well-known white jacket in the kitchen, it was never going to be a walk-in kind of joint.
But now, with the TV and the fame and everything else, it’s just bonkers. As I’m writing this, Laurel’s Open Table reservation system is down–I assume because it has just plain melted–but last I heard, you were looking at a wait of months for a prime table, and weeks for anything at all. But there is another way…
See, Laurel is one of the restaurants that’s going to be at Philly Cooks this year. And there are still a few tickets left for the big event, happening Wednesday the 19th. So if you’re interested in tasting the food that won Elmi the big prize, this might be your only chance for a good, long time.
Here’s hoping we see you all there.
Philly Cooks Tickets [The Big Event]
Craig LaBan finds that Nick Elmi is doing more than just turning out fantastic plates at his BYOB, Laurel. It appears the chef has also found serenity.
His albacore starter may be the best raw tuna dish in town, firmed ever so slightly in tepid olive oil before being dressed with the delicate sweetness of shaved Asian pears and a powder of frozen horseradish and yuzu “snow” that melted in mouth with a cooling sparkle. A bracing edge of mustard oil, chile-spiked ponzu, and fermented daikon cubes were the perfect foil to assertive Spanish mackerel seared crackly warm on the skin side and sashimi raw on the reverse. A study in Berkshire pork – loin roasted, belly braised, tender shoulder pulled then formed into a patty – was memorable for its elegant necklace of huckleberry, kale, and chestnut sauces.
Three Bells – Excellent
A “Top Chef” champ returns to his roots [Philadelphia Inquirer]
With Top Chef in the rearview mirror, we look back at Nick Elmi’s career at Le Bec Fin, Rittenhouse Tavern and now at Laurel.
Elmi through the years and in photos and dishes »