“Six-foot-four and born with blonde hair, I’m a Viking in so many ways,” says Grae Nonas.
The 2015 Best New Chef is talking about why he left Olamaie in Austin and how he will shift from Southern to Scandinavian cooking when his new restaurant Tullibee opens this fall in Minneapolis's Hewing Hotel.
“This food is much more me,” says Nonas. “Before Olamaei, the only biscuit I'd had was from KFC, so I had to create something I'd never had before. It was something I worked really hard to understand.”
At Tullibee, named after a native herring found in Minnesota, Nonas says he'll draw inspiration from his Scandinavian heritage. (His grandparents on his mother's side hail from Norway.) He'll forage and hunt (once he gets his car up from Austin), and he imagines dishes like sturgeon with pine oil and sausages rolled up in cabbage leaves.
“I wouldn’t say we are new Nordic,” he says. “I’m living off the fat of the land.”
Nonas grew up in New England. Cooking brought him across the country to Animal in L.A. before landing him in Austin, where he found tremendous acclaim as co-executive chef at Olamaie. When he moves his family to Minneapolis this week, he'll get ready to launch this deeply personal project in the heart of the Midwest.