Philly Cooks May Be Your Only Chance At Tasting Nick Elmi’s Food Any Time Soon


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]

Top Chef Finale Recap: A Scallop By Any Other Name


If you’re reading this, then you already know. Even if you were among the half-million folks in and around Philadelphia without power, news of our hometown hero bringing home the hardware was all but unavoidable last night. While Nick was up in New York with runner-up Nina waiting for shotskis, his TV buddy Jason Cichonski hosted a viewing party down here at recently opened Gaslight in Old City. And the rest of us watched it all play out on Twitter with the TV on in the background.

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UPDATED Nick And Nina: Handicapping Tonight’s Top Chef Finale

No more of this, okay Nick?

No more of this, okay Nick?

So this is it. Tonight is the big night for Nick Elmi and Nina Compton. They have made it through what feels like 300 weeks of challenges and weirdness and product placement and Tom’s smirking, all to make it to this moment: the Top Chef finale. One of them will be walking away with $125,000 and the title of Top Chef, and we here at Foobooz World HQ have gone through all the footage, all the recaps, all the speculation to lay odds on who is going to walk away with the big prize.

So are you ready? Let’s start by looking backward…

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The Gaslight Will Host a Top Chef Viewing Party


Join Philadelphia cheftestant Jason Cichonski for a Top Chef Finale viewing party at The Gaslight, his recently opened bar in Old City. Root for Laurel’s Nick Elmi as he looks to bring home Philadelphia’s second Top Chef crown (Kevin Sbraga also won Top Chef).

The Gaslight, which has taken the place of the former Philadelphia Bar and Restaurant at 120 Market Street will be offering $5 hot and specialty cocktails as well as craft beer and wine specials from 8 p.m. till the show’s start at 10 p.m., so get there early.

Watch a preview of tonight’s finale » 

Top Chef Episode 16 Recap: Aloha, Mr. Colicchio


I know this entire thing played out months ago, but I can’t help being resentful of these cheftestant jerks gallivanting (yes, gallivanting) around Maui like extras from the cast of Lost. I suppose they deserve it after weeks of psychological torture and sequestration, but still. It’s fucking cold here in Philadelphia and I am a spiteful man.

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Restaurant Review: Nicholas Elmi’s Laurel

Grilled maitake Nick Elmi's Laurel Restuarant

Laurel’s Grilled maitake. Photography by Jason Varney

Twelve years is a long sentence for someone who hasn’t committed a crime, even if you get to serve it in some swanky cells. Ask Nicholas Elmi. The onetime apprentice at Manhattan’s Daniel and Lutèce rose to become Georges Perrier’s right hand at Le Bec-Fin, then glided into the blue-blooded precincts of the Philadelphia Art Alliance as head chef at Rittenhouse Tavern. But in 2013, at long last, the golden handcuffs came off.

His coming-out party began on national television, where he competed on Season 11 of Bravo’s Top Chef. But that’s beside the point—not just for this cable-shunning critic, but for any food lover within taxi distance of East Passyunk Avenue. Because it’s there, in a 10-by-15-and-a-half-foot kitchen barely big enough to afford him the company of a single sous-chef and a culinary student, that Elmi is finally doing things his way. And what a way that is.

After a career spent “cooking other people’s food” and then chafing against his corporate leash at Rittenhouse Tavern, Elmi opened Laurel as a co-owner in November. Two weeks later, he cooked my favorite BYO meal of the year. Three weeks after that, my favorite meal anywhere. From the thimble-sized snowballs of frozen horseradish that bedazzled cubes of poached tuna to the tongue-tingling windfall of pink peppercorns clinging to a marbled foie gras terrine shot through with brown veins of cocoa, his plates took my table by storm.

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Top Chef Episode 15 Recap: Au Revoir, New Orleans

TCep15The final episode before the final episode(s) is always anticlimactic.This week was certainly no exception.The cheftestants are past the point of exhaustion both mentally and physically, and with two or three dishes standing between them and a trip to the finale, the only place we can expect to see beef is on their plates. Read more »
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