AOS Graduation speaker
March 3, 2017
by Shelly Loveland, Staff Contributor
Chef/Owner Restaurant Laurel and ITV
Nicholas Elmi is the chef/owner of Restaurant Laurel and ITV (In the Valley) Wine and Cocktail Bar in Philadelphia, PA. Chef Elmi and the staff of Laurel focus on French-inspired American cuisine with a nod to regional tradition and contemporary flavors. A 22-seat gem that delights critics and neighbors alike, Laurel is located on a small street in South Philly known as East Passyunk Avenue, named one of the “Ten Best Foodie Streets in America” by Food & Wine. ITV, located right next door, reflects Restaurant Laurel’s intimate vibe. Chef Elmi’s latest concept is Baba Bar, a Mediterranean bar and grill that will be located in Terminal B in Philadelphia International Airport.
Since opening in November 2013, Laurel has garnered national attention in a short amount of time. It has consistently been named near or at the top of Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants and also earned a spot on GQ’s 25 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2015. Laurel was also awarded four bells (the highest rating possible) from award-winning critic Craig Laban of The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as three and a half stars from Trey Popp of Philadelphia. The James Beard Foundation named Laurel a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2014 and Chef Elmi a semi-finalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2017 and 2015.
A native of West Newbury, MA, Nicholas Elmi is a 2002 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Before opening Laurel, he worked in some of the top restaurants on the East Coast and the world, including Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, Union Pacific and Oceana in New York City, and Guy Savoy in Paris, France. In 2013, Chef Elmi won season 11 of Bravo’s Top Chef, beating out 18 competitors for the top spot.
Active in the industry and community, Chef Elmi has served as a guest chef at the James Beard House, was a guest instructor at DeGustibus at Macy’s in New York City, and participated in the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival in 2015 and the New York City Wine & Food Festival in 2016. He also appeared with Chef Carla Hall in a webisode for students by Scholastic called “Math@Work: Math Meets Culinary Arts,” designed to connect classroom learning to careers. Chef Elmi is a supporter of many worthy organizations, including the March of Dimes, The Parkinson Council, and the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).