New England-bred, Grae Nonas’ childhood years exposed him to all that the East coast had to offer including the vastly diverse, ever-changing culinary world. Grae discovered his passion for food early on and began his career in kitchens at the age of twelve. He attended The Culinary Institute of America in 2006. In his last semester, he was accepted into an externship at a one-Michelin-star restaurant, Osteria di Passignano, in the heart of beautiful Tuscany. It was there that Grae discovered his passion for Italian food and began to hone his craft of the ‘traditional’ with a modern approach.
When he graduated from CIA in late 2008 he continued on that path and was hired to work the pasta station with Chef Anne Burrell at Centro Vinoteca. After Centro, Grae embarked on a culinary sabbatical to the West Coast to stage at some of Portland’s most acclaimed restaurants, including the notable Le Pigeon. The trip was cut short when he was quickly recruited to help open Mario Batali’s Tarry Lodge back in New York with Chef Andy Nusser (chef/partner at Casa Mono and Tarry Lodge).
After two years, Grae left his sous chef position at Tarry Lodge to help open Pesce, the fish-inspired Italian restaurant inside Mario Batali’s Eataly in New York City. Following the successful opening of Pesce, Grae was asked to join the team at Restaurant North (owned and operated by Danny Meyer alumni) as sous chef. After spending almost three years in large-scale restaurants, North was the perfect introduction to small-scale service.
In early 2011, Grae sought a change of pace and swapped the East coast for the West. The transition wasn’t easy for the native New Yorker, but after a few months Grae got his foot in the door at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Animal. After only six months, he was offered the sous chef position at Animal’s newly opened sister restaurant, Son of a Gun. Under the helm of Frank W. Anderson, Grae got first-hand experience in running a small, bustling restaurant and quickly became an integral part of the operation. While working at Son of a Gun, Grae met his future partner Michael Fojtasek and the two of them quickly started discussing dreams of their own restaurant. After months of planning, the pair relocated to Austin to open Olamaie, a modern Southern, farm-to-table restaurant. Since opening in August 2014, chef Grae has received many notable accolades including Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chef 2015. He was also selected as a James Beard "Rising Star Chef" semifinalist in 2015, with a repeat nomination in 2016 as a finalist.
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