Gradually his love of cooking took hold, and he began cooking at home, even trying to re-create dishes he'd enjoyed at restaurants. "After a couple years, my father decided to retire, and I was asking what I was going to do. I didn't have the money to buy the business, and he didn't want to pass it on; he just wanted to get out. So, that's when I decided to go to culinary school,” he said. He also visited Tulsa a number of times where his older brother lived. Eventually the chef and his family decided to make the move to Tulsa. He admits moving to Oklahoma was a bit of a cultural shock at first. "I was used to New York being a melting pot and the cuisine of every country available. If you wanted Chinese food at 4 o'clock in the morning, you could get it because someplace would be open and serving it.” As time passed, Paizis developed the sources for ingredients and foods he preferred to use. When he learned about the job at McNellie's, Paizis said he worried owner Elliot Nelson would think he was overqualified for the job. Yet, "I can get creative here on the specials, and I can put my little flair on the items on the menu,” Paizis said. His shift from fine dining to the more casual presentations typical of pub food has come with relative ease. "You can still make a hamburger look good on a plate. People do eat with their eyes first,” he said. The chef said beer dinners will be added at the pub eventually, but not for a few months. "I can get really creative on the culinary end of it,” Paizis said. "I've done plenty of wine dinners — five-, six- and seven-course wine dinners. So I'm excited to bring pub food here and get it going.”
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James E. McNellie's Public House eatery and pub Address: 1100 Class Drive (the intersection of NW 10 and Walker). Telephone: 601-7468. Hours: Opens at 11 a.m. daily. Online:www.mcnelliesokc.com
McNellie's menu sampler•Chips and white queso, $5.99. •European cheese platter, $12.99. •St. Patty's melt, $7.99. •Club sandwich, $8.50. •Southwest meatloaf sandwich, $8.99. •Beer House chili, $5.99 per bowl. •Landlord's Cottage Pie, $10.99. •Southwest meatloaf, $10.99. •Foster's beef ribs, $12.99.
Available beers•Fuller's Porter, England, draught $5.50. •Chimay Triple, Belgium, draught $7.50. •Grand Reserve Jeroboam, Belgium, 3-liter bottle, $125. •Tsing Tao Lager, China, bottle, $4.50. •Schneider Organic Edelweisse, Germany, bottle, 16.9 ounces, $7. •Tona Lager, Nicaragua, bottle, $4.50. •Singha Malt, Thailand, bottle, $5. •Choc Biere de Garde, Oklahoma, bottle, 22 ounces, $8.50.