Top Chef contestant Nick Elmi opens his own restaurant tomorrow, November 5th at 1617 E Passyunk Avenue. Laurel is a 24-seat BYOB that will serve seasonal dishes with a French and American flair.
Elmi has previously been the chef at Rittenhouse Tavern and Le Bec Fin. However, this will be the first time he’s in his own kitchen. Elmi continues to move along on Top Chef New Orleans and his newfound celebrity status can’t hurt his restaurant opening.
The space is the original home to Fond, which moved around the corner last December. Laurel is named for the state flower of Pennsylvania and is one of Elmi’s favorite ingredients.
Happy Halloween! This week we learn that Tom Colicchio was raised by wolves and what Gail and Padma will look like when they get older. Travis Masar‘s dad learns that his son is gay while watching from home (surprise!), and I reintroduce my inability to sing and/or produce music. Without further ado, your first recap in song.
Much like a skilled chef packing 10 pounds of flavor into a 5 pound dish, a skilled TV editor can make an hour’s worth of television feel like binge watching that show about the blue meth and the high school chemistry teacher and the kid that says “Yeah, bitch!” and some Mexicans and some Nazis and, well, you get the idea.
This week’s Top Chef (a traditional Quickfire-to-Whole Foods-to Elimination format we’ve all grown to love) was as thick as the roux that some of the cheftetants made for the gumbo challenge–an introductory Quickfire which serves to remind us as gently as a shovel to the back of the head that these guys are in New Orleans and that things down in New Orleans are different.
At the risk of being contrarian, I’ll just go ahead and say that I loathe the Geico commercial with the talking camel.
However, I’d be a filthy liar if I told you I wasn’t just as excited for Wednesdays as that dromedary douchebag is (and I know it’s a commercial and all, but who would hire a camel? And to do what? And are there work visa issues?), because after a season of no local cheftestants and a whole bunch of subpar cooking, I’m ready to accept Top Chef back into my life. And much like the euphoria felt after that first Eagles game, I’m eager to watch this season play out. Hopefully it won’t be as disappointing as the past three Sundays have been.
But enough about the wildlife. Let’s get on with a brief recap and a few predictions for this season of Top Chef New Orleans.
Just a quick reminder, folks. The new season of Top Chef debuts tonight, featuring two of Philly’s finest: Nick Elmi and Jason Cichonski.
Do we know anything yet for sure? No, we don’t. But we’ve seen the same promo videos you have, and it looks like Cichonski is getting a lot of screen time while Elmi is getting…less. One thing we’re pretty sure of, though, is that both guys make it past round one.
So set your DVR’s or do whatever it is you do. The fun starts tonight at 10pm on Bravo. And be sure to check back here tomorrow afternoon when we’ll have an exhaustive recap of the first episode, done by none other than Fidel Gastro himself.
Bravo’s Top Chef returns on Wednesday, October 2nd. Season 11 is based in New Orleans and includes local chefs Nick Elmi and Jason Cichonski. In the first episode the chefs must prepare a soiree in the swamp. In the sneak peek, Cichonski finishes early and harrasses a still working Elmi.
The writing has been the wall at Rittenhouse Tavern for quite some time. When Nick Elmi announced he was leaving the attractive restaurant tucked into the Art Alliance, he told Michael Klein that Restaurant Associates (Rittenhouse Tavern’s corporate overlord) had offered him the opportunity to take over the business. Elmi declined and the restaurant continued to operate through the summer. Last week, Eater reported that it was hearing solid reports that the restaurant would close in late September or early October.
A look at OpenTable today shows that the last reservations available after Saturday, September 28th.
Meanwhile if you are looking to eat Elmi’s food again, you’ll have to wait till November when he opens Laurel on East Passyunk. Elmi will also be competing on Top Chef New Orleans which debuts on Wednesday, October 2nd.
But for those of you out there who just can’t wait, we thought it might be nice to offer up a bit of history–a way for you to get a handle on our two hometown chefs and maybe come to understand, once the show starts, why this one is freaking out over his pork chops or why that one is doing that thing to that scallop. To that end, we’ve assembled a Six Pack of places where the two chefs trained, rose to prominence, made names for themselves or, in the case of Jason Cichonski, are still currently cooking (Elmi is unemployed at the moment, but working on opening his first restaurant–Laurel on East Passyunk).
It would make a helluva restaurant crawl. Or maybe something to do on the weekend before Top Chef premiers. But we’re not telling you how to live your life…
Michael Klein has the story that Nick Elmi (formerly of Le Bec Fin and Rittenhouse Tavern) is opening his own restaurant at 1617 E Passyunk Avenue, in the former home of Fond. Elmi’s restaurant will be named Laurel (after the state flower) and is looking to open in early November.
Elmi was Le Bec Fin’s last chef de cuisine under Georges Perrier. When Perrier sold Le Bec, Elmi landed at Rittenhouse Tavern, where he worked until May of this year. Since then we know Elmi filmed Top Chef in New Orleans. Elmi told Klein that he is waiting to till November to open because he has a heavy travelling schedule until then. Read into that, what you want.