Rising Star Chef Nicholas Elmi of Rittenhouse Tavern - Biography

Philadelphia, PA

December 2012

Rising Star Chef Nicholas Elmi’s culinary career started on a Thursday. That was his day of the week to feed his five siblings and hard-working parents. The weekly chore became a paying gig in high school, when Elmi slung pizzas and pasta at Joseph’s Trattoria in his native Bradford, Massachusetts. And it turned into a career when he opted out of an accounting and economics program to earn a degree from the Culinary Institute of America.


After graduating in 2001, Elmi moved to Philadelphia to work under one the city’s most iconic chefs, George Perrier, at Brasserie Perrier. Elmi then left Philly to immerse himself in the New York City fine-dining scene with a stage at Daniel and posts at Lutece, Union Pacific with Chef Rocco DiSpirito, and Oceana with Rising Star Chef Chris Lee. Elmi eventually found his way back to his mentor Perrier with an executive sous chef position at Mia in Atlantic City and eventually the executive chef role at Le Bec-Fin.

Before he took over the kitchen at Le Bec-Fin, Elmi first moved to Paris to stage at Guy Savoy, a formative experience that changed his view of ingredients, purveyors, and creative process in the kitchen. He brought his renewed passion to Perrier’s flagship until the restaurant changed hands in 2012. Now chef of Rittenhouse Tavern, Elmi’s first solo restaurant is an elegant reflection of his French training and an inspiring taste of his culinary vision—ignited years ago in his parents’ kitchen.