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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You grew up in Mossyrock, Washington. Is that a town of more or less than 100 people? Ha. Last time I saw, it had 498. My mom is from Holland; my dad is from New York. And they were sort of hippies traveling in the ’70s, doing their thing. They met and found this little plot of land in the middle of nowhere and bought it, put a single-wide trailer on it, and that’s where I grew up.
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The wait is over, Michael Schulson‘s Independence Beer Garden will be opening this week.
UPDATE: No, it won’t. The project has been delayed again. The new projected opening date is July 15.
To hold you over, we have an exclusive first look at chef (and former Top Chef contestant) Travis Masar’s menu for the highly anticipated garden.
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Of all the wandering Philly chefs without a kitchen to call home, Jen Carroll may have been kitchen-less the longest.
Ever since her post-Top Chef exit from her gig at 10 Arts (and a couple of abortive attempts at opening restaurants of her own here and in NYC), she has been consulting, doing guest chef gigs and, now, is headed back to the small screen to compete on Top Chef Duels.
Curtis Stone is hosting, Gail Simmons and Hugh Acheson are at the judge’s table. Wolfgang Puck is hosting the Duels version of Last Chance Kitchen (called “The Knockout”) which will be available online. Bravo is bringing out the big guns and trying to really make this new spin-off a thing.
Yes, there’s a video
Yes, it’s official. Word has just come down that the new season of Bravo’s Top Chef will be taking place in Boston.
Please keep all cursing and gnashing of teeth to a minimum. We were really hoping for a Philly season, too (Come on, Tom…), but Boston should be…interesting. They’ve got some former cheftestants there, some excellent restaurants, a thriving food scene, and certainly enough chowdah and “how do you like them apples?” jokes to fill at least the first few episodes. Now all we have to do is start trying to figure out what chefs they’re tapping for the new season. So… Does anyone know of any locals who’ve suddenly made spring travel plans?
If you want a few more details, they’re obviously pretty excited up in Boston. Check out the link below to get started.
It’s Official: Top Chef Is Coming To Boston [Boston magazine]
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]
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 »
Congrats to Philadelphia chef Nicholas Elmi, who won Bravo’s Top Chef competition on Wednesday night. Read more »
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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