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November 6, 2014 at 1:59pm

Aaron's Behavior: Following Chef Aaron Grissom on Top Chef, Episode 4

A scene from "Top Chef" Episode 4 with Chef Aaron Grissom highlighted on the far right. Photos courtesy of Bravo TV/bravotv.com

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Before I review last night's Top Chef, I'd like to take a moment to make a statement. I write this column not just because the Weekly Volcano pays me in premium vodka, but also because Aaron Grissom is a friend, a past co-worker at Dirty Oscar's Annex on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue and a fabulous chef whom I support. I call him an asshole and poke fun at his demeanor because of those three reasons. I rib him as I would any friend. In reality, there are some things about Aaron Grissom that Top Chef viewers may not know due to the fact that this show is so obviously edited to highlight drama and conflict.

Chef Aaron is utterly and completely passionate about food. He works hard, really hard, often 16 hours a day - only to go home for a couple of hours, nap, and come right back to work because he dreamt of a great menu idea and was dying to work it out. His heart and love for food is what drives him to be so cutting edge and self-taught in the culinary world. I could only imagine what it feels like to be so driven, work so hard, get so little sleep and then push yourself to become even better. ... You have to break every once in a while and let that passion out - sometimes by yelling at those around you.

It's a worldly fact that pretty much every chef is an asshole. Aaron Grissom is not the first, nor the only one that has ever been in the Top Chef spotlight for not getting along with his contestant counterparts.

In closing to my brief diatribe, I'd like to quote one of Aaron Grissom's closest friends, former boss and owner of Tacoma restaurant Happy Belly, Jennifer Johnson:

"Even after a 14-hour day, he made time to listen to the guys that worked for him. ... They'd tell him their family troubles, etc. He checked on sick friends, was in tune with people's moods and feelings around him and always - and I do mean always - asked how he could help, what he could do to lighten the load, help them be happy. Aaron would give up his shift meal in order to give it to a local homeless boy who would walk through the restaurant's alley on a regular basis."

So don't always believe the Top Chef television editors, TMZ or even Santa when they cast a negative glow on a television reality star. But, what you can believe is that even after this show ends, Chef Aaron Grissom is still a good guy with a kind heart, and I am still going to throw him under the bus with this column known as Aaron's Behavior. Let's drink!

Aaron's Behavior: Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 4

Grissom Gulp participants, within the 30 seconds of Top Chef, Episode Four, you should have had three drinks. Damn that Grissom and his foul mouth!

Still in the opening sequence, Chef Keriann goes into her room, upset that she misses her family. I totally get it. This is the part where I actually start to like her and think to myself how Chef Aaron's probably deserved the verbal punches that flew from Keriann's mouth. Let's just hope she keeps it shut and behaves. Weekly Volcano doesn't have enough premium vodka to pay me for writing "Keriann's Behavior".

For the quick fire challenge, the chefs asked to head over to Boston's notorious bar, Cheers, which inspired the '80s television situation comedy, Cheers. George Wendt, aka "Norm", takes his regular seat upon a corner barstool and is a guest judge next to the beautiful Padma. The chefs are asked to make their own delicious bar dish set to impress both Padma and George.

Chef Aaron makes his famous burger topped with peanut butter, mayo, bacon and a fried egg. Tacomans know this burger. They love this burger. They eat this burger. They breathe this burger.  It's bar food at its best. George and Padma agree and Aaron slides through the middle, neither on top of the winners or bottom of the losers.

Fortunately, Chef Gregory (winner of the past two elimination challenges) had some equilibrium issues and dropped the toppings to his dish, so his food was served incomplete. Chef Katsuji squeezes in for the win with a beautiful mahi-mahi ceviche accented with lime and a jalapeño-laden salsa. I want this. Now.

Teams of three must create a menu for this episode's double elimination challenge, and besides Chef Aaron's brash behavior in the kitchen, the evening runs smoothly. Aaron is teamed up with Katsuji and Gregory, and immediately Gregory labels himself something of a babysitter, seeing as how Katsuji and Aaron have a volatile history, according to television editing.

Aaron, Katsuji and Gregory are the quintessential dream team of this double elimination challenge and sail through with impeccable menu items such as seared scallops, homemade ravioli and peppercorn strip loin.  During this kitchen and serving sequence, Aaron swears only four times, gives that eat-shit grin zero times, and argues with Katsuji minimally. With that, Grissom Gulp participants, drink!

Ultimately, Aaron's team pulls out the "win" and come out of this one unscathed. Unfortunately Aaron's pal, Chef James Rigato, is sent home on charges of making a flavorless seafood salad. Chef Rebecca LaMalfa was also eliminated for making something really boring, which suits her personality because she is quite possibly one of the most forgettable contestants this season. 


Who is Chef Aaron Grissom, and what's up with the Grissom Gulp drinking game?

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Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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