Aaron Grissom, Former 'Top Chef' Competitor, Dead at 34 Following Motorcycle Accident

Aaron Grissom, who appeared in Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and competed in the 2014 season of Top Chef, died in an apparent motorcycle accident in Washington state. The Tacoma native was 34. His death was ruled an accident, according to the Pierce County medical examiner, which said Grissom suffered "blunt force injuries," reports The News Tribune.

Yu Nanakornphanom, who worked with Grissom at the Moshi Moshi ramen bar and owns Indo Street Asian Eatery in Tacoma, told the News Tribune Grissom's accident happened near Chambers Bay. Grissom lived in University Place, Washington, and was working as a cook for touring musicians. Nanakornphanom believed Grissom was living in Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic after all touring was canceled. Nanakornphanom said he was surprised to learn Grissom was back in the Tacoma area.

Nanakornphanom said the two were more than just co-workers and friends. When they first opened Moshi Moshi, Nanakornphanom told Grissom he needed a kidney. "Then we were joking around, and he said, ‘I can give you a kidney.’ We happened to be a match — we’re both Type O. It’s very rare to find Type O," Nanakornphanom told the News Tribune. After Nanakornphanom told Grissom he could have to wait three to four years for a kidney, Grissom jumped at the chance to help his friend. Grissom left Moshi Moshi on good terms, Nanakornphanom said.

Grissom competed on Top Chef: Boston in 2014, but was eliminated early. At the time the show aired, Grissom actually lived in Los Angeles and was a chef at Bow & Truss in North Hollywood, reports TMZ. He appeared in an episode of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives filmed at Dirty Oscar's Annex in Tacoma.

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After he was eliminated from Top Chef, Grissom appeared on the online series Last Chance Kitchen, a decision that Bravo was criticized for, Eater reported at the time. Grissom was arrested on domestic violence charges, accused of pushing his girlfriend at the time so hard she suffered a knee injury. Grissom was eliminated at the end of the first episode of Last Chance Kitchen, which was filmed before the alleged incident.

Nanakornphanom disputed the story. "He is not that. He might be hotheaded, but — I mean, a lot of chefs are like that," Grissom's friend told the News Tribune. "I think that’s really normal for chefs who are really driven."