We don’t know whether we like Elmi or respect Elmi any more after his interview with Philadelphia food blog Phoodie, but we sure as hell respect any interviewer that asks about his “big ole’ Philadelphia balls.”
Nevertheless, Elmi did attempt some damage control in the wake of his controversial win, clearly addressing his unpopularity next to Nina Compton and even the rumors of his jabs at his former employer, Rittenhouse Tavern and Le Bec Fin. It’s probably safe to say that however you felt about Elmi before or after his Top Chef win, you’ll probably feel the same about him after reading his Philly-centric interview. But first, on his aggressive behavior in the kitchen:
[Shari Brodsky, of Phoodie]: Reality TV, how real? I mean is there anyone whose persona is very different in real life than how it read on the show?
[Nick Elmi]: We have three days to make 44 minutes of television so they’re going to edit the most dramatic parts. It’s a cooking competition, but it’s also a TV show and people cook with different styles.
I’m assertive in the kitchen.
SB: Aren’t all Chefs?
NE: There are different styles and mine is not exactly shy and retiring, so that came through. I know a lot of people didn’t think that I deserved to win, but it’s up to the judges and they are the ones actually tasting the food and deciding.
Then, Brodsky tried again to poke the fire by mentioning his earlier remarks that he cooked “pissed off” for a year, mentioning his former employers:
SB: On the show, you said you cooked pissed off for a year. Was that at Rittenhouse Tavern or were you working as a troubadour?
NE: I probably could have worded that better. I had a real chip on my shoulder, (SB: after Le Bec Fin invited back the entire staff except Nick, their executive chef.) I felt like I had something to prove. I went in every day angry and ready to fight. I lost my passion for cooking. It probably wasn’t the right way to say it but I had that chip for a while.
I love cooking now. I can’t wait to go into work at Laurel. I have fun with my friends while we cook and I’m cooking food that I like and I’m proud of. I lost that, and it’s great to have it back and to be putting out food that I know is good and having fun doing it.
And in case you were wondering — yes, Elmi does have big ole’ Philly balls for serving his raked-over-the-coals panna cotta. Read the rest of the interview here.
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