Rising Star Chef Nicholas Elmi of Laurel - Biography

Philadelphia, PA

October 2019

Nicholas Elmi’s culinary career started on a Thursday—the day of the week he was assigned to feed his five siblings and hardworking parents. That weekly chore became a paying gig in high school when Elmi worked at Joseph’s Trattoria in Bradford, Massachusetts. 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 George Perrier at Brasserie Perrier. Elmi then left Philly to immerse himself in New York City’s fine dining scene with a stage at Daniel and posts at Lutece, Union Pacific, and Oceana. He eventually found his way back to his mentor Perrier with an executive sous chef position at Mia in Atlantic City, followed by the executive chef role at Le Bec-Fin.

Before he took over the kitchen at Le Bec-Fin, Elmi moved to Paris to stage at Guy Savoy, an experience that changed his view of ingredients, purveyors, and the creative process. He brought his renewed passion to Perrier’s flagship until the restaurant changed hands in 2012.

The same year, he helped open Rittenhouse Tavern as executive chef, where he earned a StarChefs Rising Stars award. After winning season 11 of “Top Chef,” Elmi struck out on his own, opening tasting menu-driven Laurel in 2013. Three years later, he opened cocktail bar and restaurant ITV next door, followed by Royal Boucherie. In September 2019, Elmi published Laurel: Modern American Flavors in Philadelphia.