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 in Dallas and University of Colorado, he got a job working for the Texas Rangers baseball team. Fojtasek eventually moved to Austin to work for a small record label, but felt himself drawn to the kitchen.

One busy Friday night, Fojtasek staged at the restaurant of a friend and was hooked immediately, maneuvering his way from stagiaire to prep cook to working the line. He then took on fi ne dining at Abacus in Dallas and followed that up with training at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone. Through CIA, Fojtasek externed under Jonathan Benno 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 and then switched coasts to cook at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Son of a Gun in Los Angeles.

In 2014—alongside his Son of a Gun kitchen mate Grae Nonas—Fojtasek opened Olamaie in Austin. Rooted in fl avor memories from his mother and grandmother, Fojtasek’s version of Southern cuisine is progressive, refi ned, and decadent. Olamaie was a semifi nalist for James Beard’s “Best New Restaurant” in 2015, the same year Fojtasek was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs.” In 2017, he earned a StarChefs Rising Stars Award, and this year, he was a fi nalist for James Beard’s “Best Chef, Southwest.”