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.
January 17, 2014 |
PHILADELPHIA Standing on the top deck of a parking garage he hopes to replace with the Provence casino, developer Bart Blatstein on Wednesday introduced two high-profile New York chefs who want to join him as restaurant partners. TV personality Tom Colicchio of Top Chef and Manhattan restaurateur Andrew Carmellini said they would open restaurants if Blatstein's project is selected for the city's second casino license. Both chefs declared Philadelphia "a great food city. " Blatstein "didn't have to sell me very hard," said Colicchio, Top Chef's head judge and owner of the Craft restaurants in New York.
October 9, 2013 |
WHEN YOU'RE competing on a hit reality-TV show like Bravo's "Top Chef," and the season (11) has just begun, you can't say much. Local competitors Jason Cichonski and Nick Elmi, both incredibly talented (and not too bad on the eyes, either) chef-restaurateurs, can't say how long they filmed the show (although according to insiders, it's eight weeks). Elmi and Cichonski can't say if or when they got eliminated. They sure can't say if one of them won. On the other hand, if you've already won Bravo TV's "Top Chef," you can pretty much talk all you want.
September 27, 2013 |
Two young talents are the latest Philadelphia chefs to try their luck at reality TV in hopes of launching themselves as culinary stars before a nation of celeb-hungry viewers. Jason Cichonski and Nicholas Elmi, both of whom have cooked at some of the finest restaurants in the city, will be competing against each other and 15 other contestants from around the country on Top Chef , Bravo's popular cooking show that returns for its 11th season on Oct. 2. Cichonski, 29, is the chef and co-owner of Ela Restaurant in Queen Village and previously was executive chef at the Rittenhouse Hotel.
April 26, 2013
* Eating well to fight hunger is also the theme for a six-course dinner "Top Chef" Kevin Sbraga is putting together at his restaurant Sbraga (440 S. Broad St., 215-735-1913, Sbraga.com ) with a stellar lineup of local chefs May 14. Nicholas Elmi, Walter Abrams, Shola Olunloyo, Jonathan Adams and Dave Katz will join him in support of Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. Tix are $150 each. * Food-truck operators stake their claim to be the city's best at the Philadelphia Vendy Awards' third-annual competition from 2 to 6 p.m. June 8. A limited number of early discount tix, $45, are available now at eventbrite.com . The event raises funds for the nonprofit Food Trust.
April 19, 2013
WHAT'S with all the beer and food pairings? It's getting that you can't down a mug without someone shoving a plate of ale-braised Brussels sprouts under your chin. Wednesday night, Nick Macri, the chef at Southwark, at 4th and Bainbridge, laid out a four-course menu pairing imaginative dishes (seafood stew and hot-pepper relish) with suds from Ardmore's Tired Hands Brewery. Friday, the new Victoria Freehouse, on Front Street in Old City, will throw down a variety of British-style bitters and complementary English-themed plates.