Two coasts, three guys, one new 'modern Southern' restaurant: Olamaie.
Co-Executive chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas, along with general manager Ben Hickerson, are combining their overlapping experiences at Los Angeles' Son of a Gun, New York's Lincoln Ristorante and the Culinary Institute of America to form a kind of Southern food supergroup, playing pre-show pop-up gigs at Lenoir, ASTI and FINO before opening in the former Sagra space downtown in "early winter" of this year.
Olamaie is so named after Fojtasek's "mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great-great grandmother," adding to Austin's growing number of restaurants named for chefs' female relatives (see also: Lucy's Fried Chicken, Olive & June, Olivia). Fojtasek, a native Texan, says his "heart stayed" in Austin while he left to work in California and New York. Via a press release sent today:
"When I moved out of Austin to continue my training, my heart stayed here," said Co-Executive Chef Fojtasek. "Now I'm back with a team of unbelievably thoughtful and talented folks doing food that has been a lifelong passion."Reserve your seats for the first Lenoir dinners—featuring chicken grease biscuits ($6), blue crab over rice with a corn souffle ($20) and pickled prawn with soft scrambled eggs and smoked tomato ($22)—right here.
Olamaie will fill the Southern cuisine void with a menu that focuses on farm-to-table freshness and a dining experience that combines classic southern hospitality with modern restaurant craftsmanship. Until the opening this winter, Olamaie will host multiple pop-up dinners across Texas, beginning at Lenoir on August 6-10, to represent what they endeavor to do.
The future home of Olamaie. [Photo: Google Maps/Olamaie/EATX]