Malia Koelker – Chef and Owner
Around the world, the best restaurants are chef-owned and chef-operated. Malia Koelker began her career working her way through the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Georgia in some of Athens’ best kitchens. There is a certain work ethic and respect for great food and dining that only comes from starting at the ground floor in this business.
26 years after founding Malia’s, she still approaches her menu with the creativity and energy of an artist. The fare changes monthly, sometimes daily, to optimize a pallet of seasonal ingredients. It’s an aesthetic her patrons so appreciate. It’s her art and her reward.
Matthew Shackleton – Chef and Owner
Malia’s is keeping it in the family for the future.
After Malia married Matthew’s father, Matthew spent several summer breaks from high school in England working at Malia’s. Inspired by those summers and undeterred by the hard work, he completed culinary school in the UK and returned with the skill to cook at Malia’s for 16 years.
In 2012, Matthew took a hiatus to work a management position in corporate food service gaining experience in the business end of food…budgets, purchasing, staffing. He soon realized the creativity afforded him in a small family restaurant was what fulfilled him. Matthew’s interest is in combining dishes from around the world, new food technologies and the familiar flavors that Malia’s devoted fans have come to think of as “home cooking”.
Now, Matthew is chef and partner in the family business, carrying the tradition of Malia’s through the next generation.
Executive Chef Michael McFadden
Michael McFadden has a lifelong passion for delighting diners with dishes from the finest provisions. That mindset is the cornerstone of Malia’s. His career spans 35 years including commanding high-end kitchens as Executive Chef at country clubs, private dining clubs and establishments in New Jersey, Philadelphia, California and nearby Columbia. A second generation Italian, Michael was born with a sense of what works and how to get there from “scratch”.
Now, Michael and his wife, Marie join us in Aiken to live “the good life”.