Chef Michael Nelson
2015 GW Fins

Michael Nelson has been working in the restaurant industry for the past 20 years. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but raised in Chicago, he spent summers in Maine as a child, where his mother worked as personal chef for the Rockefeller family. He could be found along the shores of Bar Harbor where locals put him to work on lobster boats and paid him in crustaceans.
He got his start in restaurants at the age of 16, working under master chef Bob Brusinski at Public Landing and Tallgrass, two of Brusinski’s renowned Chicago area establishments. In 2000, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California.
After culinary school, Nelson gained tremendous experience cooking at some of the top restaurants in Seattle and Chicago, including the Georgian Room at Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel. Prior to coming to New Orleans, Nelson held the position of executive chef in Seattle at Garage in the trendy Capital Hill neighborhood, as well as NOLA’s 32nd Ward and Deleece, both popular Chicago restaurants.
Nelson has worked at GW Fins since arriving in New Orleans in July of 2005. He started as sous chef and quickly rose to chef de cuisine, working alongside executive chef Tenney Flynn to create many new dishes that are on GW Fins’ menu, which changes daily. In 2008, Nelson was recognized by New Orleans City Business’ Culinary Connoisseurs as being one of the top 50 professionals in New Orleans Dining Industry. Just recently, Chef Nelson was promoted to the executive chef of GW Fins.
“Every day is exciting to come to work for GW Fins because I don’t know what variety of seafood I’ll be working with that day,” Nelson said. “I believe that seafood is the most interesting and versatile product to work with because of the tremendous variety that is available. On average, we get in between 15 and 20 different types of fish every day at the restaurant.”
In addition to working with great seafood, Nelson, with the support of GW Fins’ co-owner and managing partner Gary Wollerman and Flynn, has been able to create and implement theme-based wine dinners. Guests are treated to great food and wine while Nelson and a wine educator give background information about the cuisine and vintages.
When Nelson is not using his creative abilities at GW Fins, he is busy living life in New Orleans’ illustrious Irish Channel, where he lives with his wife, Carol, two sons and dog. An avid runner, die-hard Cubs fan and novice fisherman, Nelson also keeps busy maintaining basketball hoops in his neighborhood playgrounds, providing a well maintained environment in which kids can play.