Matthew Ona Biography
From Napa Valley To The Far East
A BRIEF HISTORY
Matthew Ona has held many Executive Chef and F&B Directorships that provide him with a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and healthy synergy within any operation. This appreciation has emerged from his varied profession venues which include venues in New York, California, The Bahamas, Malaysia, and several cities in China including Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Matthew Ona grew up in the American Midwest. He was always drawn to the kitchen and at the age of 14 this led him to in local restaurants, which in turn led him to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
After working in various cities in America, Matthew found himself going back to school to strengthen his skills and feed his passion for baking and pastry arts. While attending The Culinary Institute of America, in Saint Helena, California, a fortuitous encounter with renowned chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry allowed him to train with Chef Clare Clark while attending school.
His first experience as an Executive Chef happened at the invitation of the leadership team at the Peju Province Winery, which is in Napa Valley, California. After three years in California, Matthew spent 2 years in the Bahamas as Executive Chef at the exclusive luxury destination, Romora Bay Resort and Marina, in Harbour Island.
During this time in The Bahamas, he also traveled to Tokyo, Japan to learn sushi preparation at the Tokyo Sushi Academy.
In time Matthew made an exciting move Shanghai, China, which is the world’s most populous alpha-tiered metropolis, where he expanded his leadership skills. Chef Matthew transformed kitchens, and revenue streams of three high-end restaurants in the city starting with Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen (yes, Napa is part of the name of this Shanghai hot spot), moving on to the famed Kathleen’s 5 in the center of People’s Square. He then took the helm of Shook! Located in Shanghai’s iconic Bund District, the menu featured menu selections from across Southeast Asia.
The strong revenue turnaround at Shook! Was noticed and led Chef Matthew to accept the Directorship of a Food and Beverage position in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he oversaw 5 restaurants and a central commissary kitchen that supported 4 hotels within a single corporation.
The pull of family… and China, brought him back to Shanghai in 2015. Since his return to China he has consulted with various brand names in the city, and currently serves as the Managing Partner of Red Phoenix Consulting and executive chef of THE CUT Concepts for VOL Group.
Chef’s Matthew’s cuisine draws from a diversity of Midwestern flavors, while playing with fresh-seasonal ingredients akin to California spring and autumnal notes.
His final product always intends to pay homage to the ingredients. This means that the components on the plate are not overpowered by chemistry or overproduction, but rather their flavors drawn out, enhanced, and made bold and rich in every instance. The end result is that guests are deeply satisfied and planning their next visit.
My favorite food is… that which brings the greatest response from people. I enjoy creating recipes that most people can’t prepare at home. While they dine, I want them to feel spoiled a little and taken care of, but in such a way that food is approachable and relatable. I value every guest, whether they are budget conscious or want the most expensive items on the menu. When they finish their meal feeling pleased and fulfilled, I am also pleased and fulfilled. Toward that end, I use every part of the ingredients that I can. Everything is cut by hand, and I buy the largest raw forms possible, so I can control the process and quality from the start.
– Chef Matthew