Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

November 13, 2014 at 9:14am

Aaron's Behavior: Chef Aaron Grissom on Top Chef, Episode 5

A scene from "Top Chef" Episode 5 featuring Chef Aaron Grissom. Photos courtesy of Bravo TV/

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Aaron Grissom, of Bravo TV's competition reality show Top Chef, reigns from a little town that spells itself with a big-ass T: Tacoma, Washington. Chef Aaron Grissom ran the kitchen at Dirty Oscar's Annex on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue, before leaving to cook in L.A. Anyone who has worked with Chef Aaron knows his moments - his good days and his bad days. They've seen him at his most inappropriate, when he's trying really hard to not blow shit up, and when he's just simply had it with whatever server/line cook/manager is in his face. These tell-all personality traits are interesting to watch on an obviously well edited reality television program. Every Thursday, I recap Bravo TV's Top Chef and rate Chef Aaron's behavior on the previous night's episode. I call the series "Aaron's Behavior." I've also turned the show into a drinking game (natch). I call the game the Grissom Gulp. Viewers must take one sip for every profanity word uttered out of Aaron's mouth, and two shots for that "eat shit" grin.

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 5

This week's episode of Bravo TV's Top Chef starts us out with the chefs together in their resident kitchen, all hanging out amicably. Chef Katsuji is ribbing the other chefs, Chef Doug Adams states that having Katsuji around is like having a little brother, and Chef Aaron Grissom is even caught laughing at Katsuji's shenanigans. The episode looks promising that perhaps they will be focusing on another chef as being the star asshole, possibly taking a little heat off our boy Aaron. Remember, it's all up to the show's editors and how they want the chefs to be perceived. 

In the quick fire challenge the chefs are paired up, head-to-head, to compete and make their dishes. Katsuji is first up and picks Aaron as his immediate competitor. Aaron chooses smoked salmon as the dish he and Katsuji must prepare in this battle, a brilliant choice it seems as Aaron reigns from the Pacific Northwest, land of all things salmon. At this point, Grissom Gulp players, we have no drinks for you.  The show has not highlighted Aaron's foul chef-mouth as it usually does. Hell, Chef Mei is throwing the adult verbiage out more than anyone.

The judges circle the room, tasting dish after dish, finally getting to Katsuji's and Aaron's smoked salmon plates. Katsuji has created a sake-infused chipotle broth with smoked jalapeños and salmon, which sounds absolutely divine. I love anything smoked, and anything jalapeño. The rest of this fantastic sounding dish is just extra frosting on the jalapeño cupcake.

Aaron prepares a smoked salmon with tarragon crème fraîche and pickled shallot that he unfortunately only had 30 minutes to prepare, thus only allowing about a five-minute brine. Ultimately this sets Aaron back, and in this head-to-head quick fire, Katsuji takes home the win in this duo.

Chef Gregory, who is winning every goddamn challenge, competes against Mei in a battle with dumplings. Mei testifies that she is the queen of dumplings, yet Gregory once again takes home the ultimate prize of $10,000 with his steamed shrimp dumplings with ginger and herbs.

Next, in the elimination challenge, the chefs must again pair up head-to-head with the two teams: quick fire winners versus quick fire losers. For the losers, this means redemption. Aaron pairs up on the "losers" team against Chef Katie who is on the "winners" team. Katie, remember her?  She's the one Aaron went up against to save himself from being eliminated in a quick fire a few episodes back. She made the ratatouille based on the fact that she looks like the rat from the movie Ratatouille

The chefs are given a budget of $1,000 to feed 500 people. That's $2 per person.  That's a measly, measly budget. I'm talking Hamburger Helper budget, agreed? In the segment where chefs are shopping for their ingredients, the main topic of all chef commentary is "the budget".  One after the other, chefs profess how small the budget is, how they are going to have to "scale back" on their ingredients, use ground beef instead of steak, blah blah blah. One chef even goes on about how she grew up poor, having to work at a young age to buy her own clothes (sounds like my childhood) - but then as the chefs are shopping I realize they are at fucking WHOLE FOODS! Well, shit! If you want to cut your damn budget then here's an idea: Don't shop at the most expensive grocery store in America! So stupid. It takes everything I have not to throw my drink at the television. 

Aaron prepares his dish - a scallop noodle with pork meatball, which is basically spaghetti and meatballs with an Asian twist. Katie says she is doing a milkshake with stout and smoked cream cheese? What? Wait, let me rewind the DVR. 

Oh, OK I get it. My rewind revealed that she said something about an imperial cake with some berries and something stout and of course some kind of cream cheese because rats like cheese. I suppose when you are shopping at Whole Foods, flour and powdered chocolate is all one can afford.

As the chefs are preparing their dishes for the final competition, Aaron throws out his first curse word of the episode and Grissom Gulp participants around the world rejoice!  Unfortunately, he swears because his whole pan of dashi (Asian broth/stock/soup base) dumps itself onto the ground. Mei comes to the rescue with her instant dashi powder and we all drink again out of relief that his dish dashi was fixed.

Well, that and then he cusses again with a nice, "Fuck me!"

The final competition goes like this: five teams, first team to three flags wins. Here's the play-by-play:

Chef Doug (winner team) vs. Chef Adam (loser team) - Adam wins (one flag for loser team).

Chef Katsuji (winner team) vs. Chef Melissa (loser team) - Katsuji wins (one flag for winner team)

Chef Gregory (winner team) vs. Chef Mei (loser team) - Gregory wins (one flag for winner team)

Chef Keriann (winner team) vs. Chef Stacy (loser team) - Stacy wins (one flag for loser team)

At this point, it is tied and up to Aaron to score a flag for the "loser team".  After a tense showdown between Katie's chocolate cake and Aaron's pork meatball with scallop noodles, Katie's dumb chocolate cake wins and Aaron's team does not take home the third flag.

As the judges deliberate it is apparent that Aaron is on the bottom of the group with Melissa and Stacy, and they are in danger of going home. During the elimination Aaron's ability to cook is questioned, and his fellow competitors take a slight lashing to him. Aaron smiles, nods, and is very well behaved! In the face of negativity he does a great job with his demeanor and attitude.

Ultimately, Chef Aaron Grissom is asked to "pack his knives and go" - thus ending our wonderful little column of inebriated, foul-mouthed culinary hijinks.

When it is all said and done, Chef Aaron Grissom shows his true, kind heart and ends the show with words of encouragement to anyone out there who came from nothing, was given no support, had no training, yet seeks to prevail and "be something" - positive actions from a man with many, many talents in the kitchen. I'm not kidding when I truly ask all Seattle area restaurants seeking a wonderful chef to look into hiring Chef Aaron Grissom.

Now, my dear Grissom Gulp participants, it's time to pour one out for our boy.


Recap of Chef Aaron Grissom vs. Top Chef, Episode 1 & 2

Recap of Chef Aaron Grissom vs. Top Chef, Episode 3

Recap of Chef Aaron Grissom vs. Top Chef, Episode 4

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About this blog

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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