Peter Tinson Trades Vespa Kitchen for Oasis Convention Center
Tinson has claimed the title of executive chef at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center and Fire & Ice Restaurant & Bar, where he'll have his hands in restaurant operations, weddings and custom catering.
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Peter Tinson is a man on the move. Back in February, we found out that the local chef was leaving Farmers Gastropub to team up with Pat Duran, owner of Metropolitan Grill. In May, the duo opened Vespa Kitchen, a retro-inspired diner with a menu that kicks blue plate fare up several notches.
Shortly after publishing a review of the breakfast and lunch spot, we were surprised to learn that Tinson would no longer be cooking behind Vespa’s black-and-white tiled bar. Instead, he had taken his talents across town to claim the title of executive chef at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center and Fire & Ice Restaurant & Bar. His first day was August 14.
“Just for me, it wasn’t a good fit,” Tinson says. “No one is angry. Pat is still a friend. It was just that the way the Vespa Kitchen was originally envisioned by Pat—and to a degree by me—was very different from the finished product.”
The chef noted the restaurant’s original concept included hosting cooking classes. This has now transformed into Iron Vespa. “The Vespa is a great concept, but being new, it is going to evolve,” Tinson says. “It’s going to change, and Pat is an absolute master at changing and tweaking and getting things so that they’re just right. You’ll see the Vespa continue to evolve and grow until it finds itself.”
Although that chapter has closed, Tinson has quickly rebounded.
“This is an opportunity I wanted to go for,” Tinson says of the executive chef opening at the Oasis. “My role is definitely more significant in an operation of that size. It’s all the same skill sets. It’s a lot about people management and product knowledge, which are things that come naturally.”
For now, he says he’s in observation mode so he can learn the system and potentially implement changes down the road. As the director of kitchen operations at Oasis, Tinson will have his hands in a little bit of everything, including weddings, custom catering and restaurant operations.
If Tinson’s name sounds familiar, he was also the owner Gallery Bistro (now closed) and executive chef at the south-side Nonna’s, newly rebranded as Mangia! A Nonna’s Italian American Kitchen.
The part Tinson’s most excited for? “Having a new challenge,” he says. “That’s what I loved about starting Vespa. It was a challenge, but in the best possible way.”
Recently, Fire & Ice launched a variety of new menu items, including a sweet-and-spicy salmon taco and sesame-encrusted ahi tuna with a mango wasabi glaze, and brought back its chicken and goat cheese quesadilla.
Missy Handyside, general manager of Fire & Ice Restaurant & Bar and of Oasis Hotel & Convention Center, says foodies will find fresh additions on the lunch and dinner menu. “We feel very fortunate that he chose us to work with, and we are very excited, of course, about all of his knowledge and his creativity that he brings to the table,” she says.
Calls to Vespa Kitchen were not returned before press time.