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December 30, 2011 at 10:31am

Behind The Food Ticket: Team D.O.A.

Aaron Grissom and Nicole De La Paz will show you there's more to bar food than cheese fries.

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Since taking the lead in the kitchen almost six months ago, Chef Aaron Grissom of Dirty Oscar's Annex has seen firsthand how easily faces come and go in the restaurant business.

"It's hard to find someone that fits with the other personalities that can cook too," says Grissom of hiring kitchen staff.

Getting employees that "meld well together" is trickier by far, yet his recently assembled team is exactly that.  

"I feel lucky to have them. Nicole, Tim and even Bryan were friends from the industry and the timing just worked," says Grissom.

Hiring Bryan Way and former executive chefs Tim Moisio and Nicole De La Paz this fall meant Grissom might relax a bit on his days off. With more than 20 years of combined experience, Grissom's kitchen staff excels at elevated bar cuisine.

"Tim Moisio has run a magnitude of kitchens over the years. He has a great grasp of how flavors work together," says Grissom of Moisio who cut his teeth at C.I. Shenanigans, Lobster Shop and Stanley and Seafort's after studying culinary arts at Le Cordon Blue and Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Dirty Oscar's operator Jake Barth gives a nod of approval, "Tim shows up consistently, puts out good food, and does it fast."

In a graceful move that looks less like stepping down and more like simply wanting something quite different, Nicole De La Paz resigned as executive chef at Puyallup's HG Bistro in early November to become Grissom's sous chef. As De La Paz hustles around the kitchen there's an intense energy about her. It's apparent she cares what she's doing.  Grissom says she brings passion, creativity and experience - all things that strengthen his team.

On Saturday and Sunday Dirty Oscar's, a bar for those 21 and older, opens at 8 a.m. to serve an eclectic breakfast menu until 4 p.m. Cook Bryan Way arrives to begin prep work while most of his industry peers are still in solid slumber.

Barth and Grissom agree; Way knows how to bang out breakfast in prompt fashion, each plate looking and tasting as good as early morning patrons have come to expect. "I tip my hat to cooks that dominate me on the breakfast field," says Grissom of Way, "Bryan owns breakfast."

When asked for something interesting about his years cooking, Grissom shares that he catered the 2010 U.S. Amateur Open golf championship at Chambers Bay under Chef Dustin Joseph and personally cooked a five-course dinner for Tom Waits' bassist. He laughs adding, "I think we've all cooked for famous people actually."

Barth reports Grissom's new Deep Winter menu featuring braised lamb, pulled elk, Korean short rib, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes is being received well. That's a testament to clientele that by all outward appearances just want to drink and hang-out being willing to try new things and branch out beyond hot wings, flat bread and cheesy fries.

"We all bounce ideas off each other and bring different elements to the table. Together we want to continue bringing good food to people, and it's not going to be your average bar cuisine," says Grissom.

The team came up with a New York strip loin topped with Danish blue cheese in port butter. And it's delicious.

Dirty Oscar's Annex

4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday
8-2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
2309 Sixth Ave., Tacoma

Filed under: Food & Drink, Tacoma,

Comments for "Behind The Food Ticket: Team D.O.A." (1)

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Jeannie said on Dec. 31, 2011 at 3:22pm

Had the Elk Hash for Breakfast this morning, it is really good! Officially my new weekend breakfast place. Thanks Nicole.

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