Michael Fojtasek is a compassionate, curious, and courageous human, a husband, father, chef, and neophyte trail runner. After a 6 year hiatus spent building the Olamaie Southern Food restaurant in Austin, TX, Michael transitioned from a background in road running (up to the marathon distance) to trail running. He took his first stab at the ultramarathon distance with this year's Sky Island 50k. Michael ultimately DNF'd at Sky Island and we talk about what lessons he learned and how he will roll them into the Big Bend 50 coming this January.We also talk about how Michael is building inclusive and compassionate culture at Olamie and reopening the restaurant with a new menu and staff focused on modernizing Olamaie's interpretation of modern Southern Food incorporating the latest trends and flavors.
I feel that Southern food is very much representative of American food in general. I think it is to me the most indicative of what American food has been and continues to evolve. Personally I try to keep it much in line with who I am and what my background speaks to. I try not to appropriate cultures that are not mine. I understand that Southern food in general comes from a culture that is not my culture. There are a lot of those influences in the food that I cook, I feel more comfortable that I'm not appropriating them because I'm seeing them through the lens of time. What we covered In this episode His roots are in the South (Mississippi and Tenesse) and the importance of his mother's and grandmother's influences.Southern cuisine celebrates Seasonality and Local Ingredients. The constant evolution of Southern cuisine with new influences like South East Asian in Southern Louisiana and East Texas. The deliberate choice from chef Michael Fojtasek to ground his creative process in local ingredients that are important to him.He made a decision not appropriate cultures that are not his.Discover the moderne twists he applies on buttermilk and benne seeds. He like to keep the soul in the food and do not like to "manipulate" the food. Discover which tools in the kitchen are important to him. The parallel that exist between being part of a sport team and a kitchen. Chef Michael talks about his mentor Jonathan Benno. His relatively long creative process starts at the market on Saturdays. His menu is based on small plates and on a series of "sets" (fish, chicken, pork, beef and vegetarian). One aspect of the creative process is about problem solving. Dairy ingredients (butter, cream, buttermilk, crème fraîche) are irreplaceable to him. Listen to Chef Michael talking about his dish called "boiled peanut" that has been constantly evolving since he created it.Chef encourages everyone to seek different type of rice and to learn how to cook it properly. 5 rapid-fire questions. Links to other episodes in Austin Chef Fiore Tedesco - L'Oca D'OroChef Andre Natera - The Fairmont Hotel AustinConversation with 3 Chefs in Austin (Chef Andre Natera, Chef Kevin Fink, and Chef Fiore Tedesco) - Vol 1Conversation with 3 Chefs in Austin (Chef Andre Natera, Chef Kevin Fink, and Chef Fiore Tedesco) - Vol 2 Start by learning how to cook rice properly... I think that the greatest mistake that happens with rice most often is that it's just not cook properly. So learning how to cook the rice in a good way. It just requires you to think about cooking rice in a different way. What's best for each individual rice. Seek out rice is that costs more money. Probably a great place to start with that is any of the Asian markets. Click to tweet Chef Michael Fojtasek - I'm not going to do anything that nobody's ever done before but I am going to do things my way and combine things that will be original. Click To TweetI'm always trying to think about how do I keep the soul in the food. I don't like to manipulate the food so much that it doesn't feel like it's got life within it. - Chef Michael Fojtasek Click To TweetChef Michael Fojtasek - To me Southern food is so much about soul and representing yourself is so much about soul. So food has to have that kind of touchstone within it that makes you feel like you know it. Click To TweetSocial media Chef Michael Fojtasek Instagram Social media Olamaie TwitterInstagramFacebook Links mentioned in this episode MatferJonathan BennoFrench Cheese "Mont d'Or"MignetteBufalinaSuerteMatt's El RanchJoann's Fine FoodsTaste of Country Cooking
#18 Michael Fojtasek - The Future of Southern Food
MUNCHIES: The Podcast
I head over to East Austin—a.k.a. the city's hipster den— to check out an unusual urban farm with chef Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie, one of the best contemporary Southern restaurants in the country. I sat down with Michael to discuss why he decided to open Olamaie, the difference between Southern and Texan cuisine, and find out who the real Olamaie is. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.