February 5, 2016
Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of Feb. 2, 2016. Craig LaBan: On a very sad note, there was tragic news out of Switzerland with the apparent suicide of chef Benoit Violier, the French-born chef of Le Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in Crissier who'd just been named "Best Chef in the World" by the French government. I'm sure much is still left to be illuminated about this, including more about his struggle to deal with the recent loss of both his father and his culinary mentor.
January 6, 2015 |
WHERE DOES a vice president choose to toast his granddaughter's 21st birthday? Philly, of course. Veep Joe Biden stopped by Dandelion (124 S. 18th St.) before the new year to celebrate what my spies tell me was his granddaughter's big day. I figure my source was referring to Naomi Biden , who is a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Biden is a regular at the city's restaurants, but his favorite joint is Bella Vista's Saloon (750 S. 7th St.), where he regularly orders the angel-hair pasta with spicy tomato sauce.
October 20, 2014 |
Carla Hall, two-time Top Chef finalist and cohost of ABC's The Chew , is enlisting 15 students from Drexel University to help her launch her first restaurant, to open in New York in the spring. James Feustel of the culinary arts program at Drexel says the partnership is a great chance for his students to work on solving real-world problems for an operating restaurant. Drexel created a "restaurant lab" class for the project, where students will source ingredients, compute costs, test equipment, and help with kitchen design and recipe development for Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen.
September 17, 2014 |
"TOP CHEF" VICTOR Nick Elmi is set to fight Parkinson's disease under the banner "Team Elmi's Dads. " The name, he admitted, makes him giggle a little bit. "It looks like I was raised by two dads," said Elmi, the owner of South Philly's Laurel (1617 E. Passyunk Ave.). Elmi is instead referring to his dad and his stepfather, both of whom suffer from Parkinson's disease. Elmi and his restaurant employees plan to walk in Moving Day: A Walk to Stamp Out Parkinson's on Oct. 11 (go to movingdayphilly.org )
June 18, 2014 |
For the customers of family-owned DiBartolo Bakery in Collingswood, it's no secret that Al DiBartolo and pastry chef Manny Agigian are artists in aprons. Think fanciful cake sculptures, freehand buttercream blossoms, to-die-for towers of fudge and chocolate mousse. Great baking, for sure. But do these Jersey guys have what it takes to be the Next Great Baker ? Tune in next Tuesday at 9 p.m. Season Four of the TLC cooking competition show starts with 10 baking teams from around the country, including Agigian, 33, and DiBartolo, 39, a cake artist.
March 21, 2014
What to eat: Best-seller here is the "walking taco. " We can attest to its deliciousness, but apparently we ate it the wrong way - on a plate while sitting down. A properly constructed walking taco consists of an open Fritos bag or Doritos bag stuffed with black beans, meat (pork confit is owner Jen Zavala's favorite), mozzarella cheese, salsa (watermelon habanero in the summer!), lettuce and Mexican sour cream. Zavala will mix it up, stick a fork in it and send you on your way. "It's not conventional to walk around eating out of a chip bag, I suppose," Zavala said.
February 25, 2014 |
MOUNT HOLLY There are plenty of ways to honor Black History Month, but Sunday at Burlington County College was definitely one of the tastiest. Top chefs and South Jersey natives Kevin Sbraga, a Philadelphia restaurateur, and Tim Witcher, a former executive chef who is now a culinary arts teacher, teamed up at the college's Culinary Arts Center in Mount Holly to give cooking demonstrations. Called "A Taste of Soul," it was part of the college's monthlong celebration recognizing the contributions of African Americans.
February 21, 2014 |
LAST MONDAY, chef Nick Elmi stepped out the door of Laurel, his 22-seat East Passyunk Avenue BYOB, and exhaled in relief. Four days earlier, the 32-year-old appeared on the dramatically up-and-down finale to a dramatically up-and-down Season 11 of Bravo's "Top Chef. " Had you noticed his sigh, you might have thought he was feeling great. He won. Then again, you might have thought he was happy to be able to talk about the show publicly. ("Top Chef" rules stipulate that only the chef's spouse and lawyer can know the result before the finale.)
February 14, 2014 |
Last week was something of a watershed for Nicholas Elmi: His victory on Top Chef New Orleans aired on Bravo, and - even more important, according to Elmi - his 3-month-old Passyunk Avenue restaurant, Laurel, was reviewed by The Inquirer's Craig Laban. Though Elmi had said he would "give up everything" for four bells, he had to settle for a three-bell rave. Over the past season, we learned that Elmi is both intense and intensely talented, that his desert island foods would be bread, butter and Pont l'Évêque (the latter, a cheese, appears on Laurel's dessert menu with chestnut honey)
February 8, 2014 |
Philly's Elmi wins 'Top Chef' Nicholas Elmi scored major national culinary cred for Philadelphia Tuesday night by winning the crown on Bravo's Season 11 Top Chef , following in the footsteps of the Season 7 winner, Philly's Kevin Sbraga. Elmi, the owner of Laurel, a new BYOB on East Passyunk, beat his final competitor Nina Compton, the St. Lucia-born chef de cuisine of Scarpetta Miami, in a multi-course showdown in Hawaii. But Elmi, the former chef at Le Bec-Fin and Rittenhouse Tavern, had some sous-chef help from homie Jason Cichonski, the Ela chef who was booted earlier in the show.