Rising Star Chef Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie - Biography

Austin, TX

November 2017

Michael Fojtasek grew up in Dallas and was raised on his mother’s Southern cooking. After attending Southern Methodist University and the University of Colorado, he got a job working for the Texas Rangers. He eventually moved to Austin to work for a small record label, but felt himself drawn to the kitchen.
A friend managed Fino Restaurant at the time, and Fojtasek came into stage on a busy Friday night. He was hooked immediately and maneuvered his way from stagiaire to prep cook to working the line. He then took on fine-dining at Abacus in Dallas and followed that up with training at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone. Through the CIA, Fojtasek secured an externship in Jonathan Benno’s kitchen at Per Se, and then staged and worked in the gardens at The French Laundry. After graduation, Fojtasek returned to New York to work for Benno at Lincoln Ristorante and then switched coasts to cook at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, where he rose to sous chef.
In 2014––alongside his Son of a Gun kitchen mate Grae Nonas––Fojtasek opened Olamaie in Austin. Rooted in flavor memories from his mother (the restaurant’s namesake), Fojtasek’s version of Southern cuisine is progressive, refined, and decadent. And for his work, he has a James Beard semifinalist nod for “Best New Restaurant” and was named a 2015 Food & Wine “Best New Chef.”