Michael Fojtasek & Grae Nonas

Olamaie

Michael Fojtasek 

Michael Fojtasek began his culinary career at FINO Restaurant in Austin, and after a culinary trip to some of New York’s finest dining establishments with Kent Rathbun, Michael was offered a position at Rathbun’s Dallas restaurant, Abacus. 

After excelling as line cook at Abacus, Michael attended The Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena. While attending the west coast extension of the world’s best culinary college, Michael continued his education with an externship at Per Se. After completing his externship, Michael was extended an open opportunity to work for Chef Jonathan Benno. 

Michael returned to Northern California to finish culinary school. His experience at Per Se provided an opportunity to stage at The French Laundry for a short time before school began again. Following this, Michael worked as daily volunteer in The French Laundry garden.   

After his final semester, Michael moved back to New York City to work at Chef Benno’s Italian restaurant in New York City, Lincoln Ristorante. In late 2011, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, of Animal and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, caught Michael’s attention. He moved across the country to work at Son of a Gun. Michael once again quickly became a leader in the kitchen. His culinary skill, dedication to the restaurant, and bi-weekly trips to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market earned him a sous chef position.   

Michael opened Olamaie in August 2014 together with Co-Executive Chef Grae Nonas. Since opening, Olamaie and Chef Fojtasek have received numerous accolades including being named as a 2015 James Beard Awards semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant” and 2015 Food & Wine Magazine “Best New Chefs.” 

Grae Nonas 

Grae Nonas’ discovered his passion for food early on and began his career in kitchens at the age of twelve, before attending The Culinary Institute of American in 2006. 

Toward the end of his studies, he was accepted into an externship at a one-Michelin-star restaurant, Osteria di Passignano, in the heart of Tuscany. When he graduated from CIA he went and worked in the kitchens of Andy Nusser and Mario Batali.   

In early 2011, Grae made the leap from New York to Los Angeles and began work at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Animal. He was offered the sous chef position at Animal’s newly opened sister restaurant, Son of a Gun, where he met Olamaie’s Co-Executive Chef, Michael Fojtasek. 

In August 2014, he opened Olamaie with Fojtasek. Since opening, Nonas was named a 2015 James Beard Awards semifinalist for “Rising Star Chef of the Year” and 2015 Food & Wine Magazine “Best New Chefs” with Chef Fojtasek. Additionally, Olamaie has received numerous accolades including being named as a 2015 James Beard Awards semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant.” 

Learn More About Michael Fojtasek & Grae Nonas

Michael Fojtasek 

What is your earliest memory involving food or wine?
Watching my grandmother cook a country ham inside of a brown paper bag.

If this is your first year participating in SOBEWFF, what are you most looking forward to?
Meeting all of the tremendous food industry folks and serving the Miami guests.

If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I get to cook with Grae and the Olamaie team everyday.

I never leave home without my:
Matfer pastry card.

Grae Nonas 

What is your earliest memory involving food or wine?
One of the earliest memories of food was when I burned my hand on a hot dog cart in central park when I was 5. Ha, I really wanted a pretzel.

If this is your first year participating in SOBEWFF, what are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to meeting fellow chefs that I look up to, as well as eating cuban sandwiches.

If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?
If I could cook with anyone in the world right now I would cook with Magnus Nilson. As a younger chef, I have a huge respect for what he's doing and what he's accomplished. To me he's inspiration to us all.

I never leave home without my:
My cell phone - it's a direct line to my home where my wife and baby, Aya, are, and it has a notepad in it that I use constantly.