Hailing from the Philippines, Charles Olalia was on the path to becoming a doctor, but wanted to learn how to cook before starting med school. He quickly realized that, like medicine, food was a way to help people. He enrolled in a cooking program in Quezon City, then moved to the United States after graduation. At 21, he joined the brigade at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas, then worked at The French Laundry two years later.
By the age of 30, Olalia was the executive chef of famed fine dining spot Patina and had a decade of classical French experience under his belt—but was still missing the Filipino flavors of his childhood. This feeling of homesickness inspired him to open Ricebar in 2015, his first solo venture that infused Olalia’s technical precision with Filipino flavors. Three years later he opened his critically acclaimed next concept, Ma’am Sir, and took center stage in the boom of Filipino cuisine in the United States. In 2021, Olalia relocated to Dallas to join Makeready Experience as the culinary director, overseeing all of the United States’ properties including the historic Adolphus Hotel.