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SPRING 2014 $4.95
SPRING AT LAsT
SAYING GOODBYE TO BROWN SCHOOL DOWNTOWN SHOPS SELL TREASURES FROM ABROAD IN THE RING WITH ATLANTIC PRO WRESTLING PAIGE FORTIN MOVING ON AFTER ACCIDENT
OF HIS GAME
hen Nicholas Elmi graduated from Pentucket Regional High School in 1999, his plan was to study accounting and economics at Bridgewater State College. But as he crossed the football ﬁeld in his green mortarboard and gown on that stiﬂing June day, little did he know that the seeds for his true passion had been planted four years earlier in a classroom that was just down the hall from the mathematics wing. On Feb. 5, Elmi was announced as the winner of “Top Chef,” the Emmy Awardwinning reality show that just wrapped its 11th season on Bravo. The season ﬁnale was watched by 1.7 million viewers. Along with the impressive title and associated bragging rights, Elmi earned $125,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, and a showcase at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo. Shortly after his win, the 33-year-old rising culinary star learned that Laurel, the French-American eatery that he opened in Philadelphia in November, was chosen as a semiﬁnalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award. Heady stuff for a man who spent his youth in small-town West Newbury focused on Sachems track and basketball. When reminded recently of his previous brush with stardom — he played heartthrob Conrad Birdie in Pentucket Regional Middle School’s production of “Bye-Bye, Birdie” two decades ago — a bemused Elmi utters a mock groan, recalling a past that seems so diﬀerent from where he is today.
WINNER OF POPULAR REALITY SHOw TRACES HIS LOVE OF COOKING BACK TO PENTUCKET
Photos courtesy of David Moir/Bravo
By Jennifer Solis
West Newbury native Nicholas Elmi is the winner of the 11th season of “Top Chef.” Here, he collaborates with his kitchen team during the final challenge. At left, he presents a dish on the show. Below, he competes in a track meet at Pentucket Regional High School in 1999.
Fresh ricotta gnocchi with pancetta, garlic and sourdough breadcrumbs
1,000 grams fresh ricotta 225 grams “00” flour 7 egg yolks 22 grams salt 15 grams minced chive Paddle the ricotta until smooth in a stand mixer. Slowly add the rest of the ingredients, mixing on low. Once the mixture is smooth, transfer to a piping bag and let rest for 1 hour. Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Cut oﬀ the tip of the piping bag and over the water pipe, and cut out small dumplings of the mixture. Let cook for 2 minutes, then remove and lay on a sheet tray to let cool. 4 ounces pancetta, diced small 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 top parsley, chopped 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 tablespoons butter Salt and black pepper Sourdough croutons cooked in butter until crisp Some reserved cooking liquid from the gnocchi Saute the pancetta until it renders out and becomes crispy. Add the garlic, and saute until brown. Deglaze the pan with a splash of the cooking water. Add a few handfuls of gnocchi, and warm slowly. Add the parsley and lemon juice. Season and emulsify with butter. Scoop into a bowl, and garnish with sourdough breadcrumbs. — Recipe courtesy of Nicholas Elmi
But it’s here in West Newbury that his foray into the land of culinary arts was launched, when at the age of 14, he found himself seated in one of Pentucket High’s most popular electives: world foods. It was this class that helped Elmi see the magic of making people happy by cooking for them. One of six children, the young Elmi began testing his prowess in the kitchen by preparing dinner for his family one night per week. Subsequently, he landed his first paid gig in the restaurant business — serving up pasta and pizza at Joseph’s Trattoria in Haverhill. Elmi, who lives in Collingswood, N.J., with his wife, Kristen, and their two young children, Grace and Wesley, was chagrined to learn that world foods was cut from Pentucket’s curriculum several years ago. School officials
deemed the course irrelevant to the needs of a 21st-century learner. “They should bring it back,” Elmi says. Elmi’s mother, Florence Emerson, is a teacher at Cashman Elementary School in Amesbury. She is the one whom Elmi shook awake in the middle of the night with the news that he was dropping out of Bridgewater to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America, and she has remained one of his staunchest supporters, he says. Emerson has asked her son to come speak with Cashman students, “as soon as the madness dies down.” Staff photo She says that she is thrilled that her son “has found his passion and enjoys his work every day, as I do teaching.” “Life is a lot easier when you enjoy your work,” Emerson says. After his training at the Culinary
Newburyport school will bid farewell to its last students this spring
To anyone touched by the Brown School spirit, saying goodbye is bittersweet. Ninety years after the community celebrated the opening of the three-story brick schoolhouse on the corner of Milk and Lime streets, the end of an era is near. When school lets out in June, the children will leave and never return.
THE BOOK ON
John Gove points out a Brown School classmate in his sixthgrade photo from 1936. At right, Jack Parr reads a book in Melissa Duguie’s kindergarten class.
By Ulrika G. Gerth • Photos by Jim Vaiknoras
A look at three of the city’s retailers that specialize in imported goods
owntown Newburyport oﬀers its visitors a range of chic boutiques to browse through in search of a perfect souvenir or gift with a New England style or a beachy ﬂair. But shoppers who step into three specialty stores — Best of British, Ireland on the Square and Ganesh Imports — may think they temporarily left behind the cobblestone sidewalks of the city for locations more exotic as they ﬁnd clothes, pottery, jewelry, handbags and other wares that they won’t be able to purchase in any of the other storefronts that line the city’s main shopping area. They have been imported to the United States from countries around the world.
By Katie Lovett • Photos by Bryan Eaton and Jim Vaiknoras
Best of British owner Bob Williams and longtime employee Julie Bosco stand in front of an Emma Bridgewater pottery display in the State Street store. At top, from left, items for sale include Barbour’s Beckley wax tweed hat, $89; boxes of Yorkshire tea, $10.95 each; and a selection of British condiments.
BEST OF BRITISH
For decades, those walking up State Street have encountered Best of British. Owned by Newburyport’s Bernadette and Bob Williams since 1990, the store has been a ﬁxture on the main street since 1992 after its move from Pleasant Street. “As Newburyport has grown and changed, our shop has grown and changed along with the town, always hopefully choosing uniquely British items with a wide appeal,” Bernadette Williams says. Customers — many of whom are expatriates or tourists who visited the United Kingdom and now have an appreciation for the culture — come from around the region, or some as far as an hour
and a half’s drive, to the store that oﬀers a special niche. “We have a lot of Anglophiles who live in this area, who have become regulars,” says Bob Williams, who runs a temporary staﬃng agency in Boston while his wife oversees the shop. Once inside, customers get a little taste of British culture, both from the employees who oﬀer a greeting and from the wares for sale. In addition to Bernadette Williams, who immigrated to America in 1975, four of the shop’s eight employees hail from the United Kingdom. The racks and shelves are lined with items that make their customers smile, from chocolate, teas,
BEST OF BRITISH
`` 22 State St. `` Open Sundays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. `` 978-465-6976
Louis “Demon” Ortiz applies his makeup before a recent show. At right, The Glamorous Ones enter the arena.
e goes by Bugsy. He won’t reveal his real name, and he rolls his eyes when asked if he has a few minutes for an interview he’d rather not do. Bugsy is one-half of the Knuckle Busters, who, about an hour before, won the Atlantic Pro Wrestling Tag Team Championship over G.L.A.M. (Great Looking Athletic Men), who, combined, might make up the size and weight of one Bugsy. But Bugsy obliges. His suspicion is evident in his glare. But on the ﬁrst question,
IN THiS CORNER
his tension melts away as if he is thankful someone ﬁnally asked him: How much fun is this? He pauses, looking for the words. “It’s awesome,” Bugsy says. “I don’t care if it’s in front of eight people or 80,000. That rush when you walk from behind the curtain to the ring ...” He shakes his head, incapable of describing the feeling any further. He doesn’t have to. He calls his ﬁrst match in 2012 the day he was born. Every APW wrestler feels this way. They do it for the same reason that men
Atlantic Pro Wrestling finds a niche in Newbury
play basketball on Thursday nights and softball on Sunday afternoons. They are living a dream. They are schoolteachers. Police oﬃcers. Landscapers. An Iraq War veteran. Comcast workers. Business owners. A hockey play-by-play announcer. They have families and mortgages. There are the Knuckle Busters, Bugsy and Burly; APW Heavyweight Champion Demon Ortiz and APW New England Champion Stiﬀ Mike; Big Gun Jim Sergeant; Dijak, also known as The Yugoslavian Nobleman; Hampton Beach Bad
By Chris O’Donnell • Photos by Jim Vaiknoras
‘My journey’s not over’
Amesbury woman who lost leg after accident is focusing on the future
CATCHING UP WITH ...
n Sept. 15, 2012, Paige Fortin’s life changed forever. The 18-year-old Amesbury resident was out on the cool Saturday evening enjoying a ride on a motorized scooter through Haverhill with her boyfriend, Josh Zaino. The two had plans to meet up with a few friends. On the way to their destination, they stopped at a red light. Fortin recalls watching the light, waiting for it to turn green. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, this intersection would prove to be a crossroad in her life, and the seconds she spent waiting for that light to change would be the last moments of peace she would enjoy for a long time. “It was really cold out that night,” Fortin says. “So I put my head in his back or something, because that’s what I normally did, with my hood up.” She paused for a moment. “And that’s the last thing I remember.”
By Mac Cerullo Photos by Virginia Page and Jim Vaiknoras
Paige Fortin, 19, of Amesbury has made a lot of progress since a devastating accident in 2012.
It’s been a long journey, and there’s so many things that I have to still “ overcome daily. ... I don’t know if I’ll have to have more surgeries, and it still hurts, but there’s also stuff that I have that’s much easier now. ”
Paige Fortin walks for the first time with her prosthetic leg.
When Zaino and Fortin pulled forward to make a left turn, a truck suddenly appeared and struck the scooter, hurling both riders from their seat. While Zaino was mostly unharmed, Fortin suﬀered catastrophic injuries to her right leg, along with a broken femur in her left leg, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and road rash. Had Fortin not been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, there is a good chance that she also would have suﬀered severe head trauma, which could have killed her. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, however, no one could be sure how bad her injuries were. Certainly not Zaino, who picked himself up off the ground after the crash, only to realize moments later what had happened. “I was looking around everywhere, and I couldn’t find Paige,” he says. “I was freaking out, wondering where she is and if she was dead. “Then I heard her, I looked over and saw her on the sidewalk, and I immediately ran over to her and started comforting her,” he continues. “I was telling her
Fortin shares a smile with Dr. Jessica ErdmannSager, the plastic surgeon who saved her knee.
that it’s going to be OK, even though I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen at that point.” Zaino knew as soon as he saw Fortin that she was badly injured. She was covered in blood, and her leg was twisted in ways that no human limb should ever be twisted. After a few seconds, the truck driver ran over and apologized, and a witness who saw what happened called 911. Both Fortin and Zaino were taken to the hospital. Zaino had only a gash that needed some stitches, so once he was
all cleaned up, he was released. At that point, he had no idea what was going on with Fortin, and he says it wasn’t until he spoke to her mother that he learned she might lose the leg. “My heart just dropped,” Zaino says. “It was something you never expect, and I was just in shock.” Zaino rushed down to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where Fortin was undergoing exploratory surgery so doctors could determine how bad the damage was. Hours later, the doctors delivered the news that Fortin had no blood ﬂow going to her leg. “The day or two her leg was still on was a horrible time, we held our breath every time they came to listen for blood ﬂow to return to see if it could be saved,” says Virginia Page, Fortin’s mother. Finally, after two long and painful days, the doctors determined that the damage was too severe. The only alternative to amputation would be to fuse all of her broken bones together, but then she would have to undergo years of therapy and probably live the rest of her life in