Inside Nicholas Elmi’s Laurel on East PassyunkBy Danya Henninger | November 4, 2013 By Danya Henninger | November 4, 2013
After stepping down as top toque at Rittenhouse Tavern last May, former Le Bec-Fin chef Nicholas Elmi’s life got even more interesting. First, there was a trip to New Orleans to film season 11 of Top Chef, which is currently airing on Bravo and on which he has been pegged as one of the favorites. (“Oooh my,” a recent fan told him in a straight-out-of-Fargo accent, “I just moved here from the Midwest, and I’ve been watching you on TV. You’re doin’ mighty well!”)
Then, when Elmi returned to Philadelphia, there was a search for a location to open his first venture as both owner and chef.
A serendipitous glass of wine with chef friend Lee Styer led to Elmi taking over the space that was formerly home to Fond (which has since moved up the block). Plans began to take shape in late summer, but Elmi wasn’t quite done with his traveling; “something” - the details of which we’re unlikely to learn until late in the Top Chef season - took him out of town for much of October.
He’s back now, and so on Tuesday, after expending more than a soupçon of elbow grease, he opens the doors to Laurel at 1617 East Passyunk. We stopped into the French-inspired BYO for a preview look at the dining room and the food.