Laurel Chef Nicholas Elmi Wins Top Chef


Congrats to Philadelphia chef Nicholas Elmi, who won Bravo’s Top Chef competition on Wednesday night.

Elmi, who opened the much-praised Laurel on Passyunk Avenue in November, defeated fellow finalist Nina Compton, a St. Lucia native who works in Miami.

His wife and mother made appearances on the finale. Elmi said on the show that he wanted to win Top Chef because he wanted his parents to know that they had raised a “good kid.”

Elmi’s Top Chef-winning final menu included:

• hamachi with three preparations of green apple (Morimoto liked it, but Emeril thought it needed a “few grains of sea salt”; Tom Colicchio said, “I think this is the best fish I’ve had all year”)

• sweet shrimp bisque with scallop noodles (Morimoto didn’t understand the scallops)

• duck breast with kabucha squash (Emeril said the duck was “very chewy”)

• and caramalized white chocolate panna cotta (Morimoto declared it “a great dish”).

Elmi got a little frustrated with his servers during the dessert course served to the first round of judges. “Where are the spoons I asked for five minutes ago?” he snapped. But then he really freaked out during the second round. “Goddammit!” he screamed in the kitchen, and the judges heard. “Awkward,” one remarked.

As the Top Chef winner, Elmi gets a feature in Food & Wine magazine and $125,000.

Before opening Laurel, the Culinary Institute of America graduate was the chef at Rittenhouse Tavern. And before that, he worked at Le Bec-Fin. Elmi’s other experience included Daniel, Lutece, Union Pacific and Oceana in New York. He also staged at Guy Savoy in Paris, and in 2001, Elmi worked under Georges Perrier at Brasserie Perrier.

We couldn’t be happier for Elmi. We just hope that we can still score a Friday night table at Laurel. Doubt it.