Robert Teoh’s passion for food and wine dated back to the time when he first landed on the shores of Australia, as an 18 years old. Whilst working as an engineer/IT professional, he dabbled in various ventures in food, culminating in the establishment of the first Chillipadi restaurant in Richmond in 1989.
The Chillipadi saga shifted into a whole new set of gears, when Robert and his wife Li (with a background in business finance) took that leap of faith, and left their corporate careers, to re-launch Chillipadi in Melbourne Central in 2004 and at the same time, exiting the original Richmond site.
Working as a couple to build the business, put their relationship to the ultimate acid test. Robert, being a one-man public relations machine, and Li, enhancing her skills at William Angliss, had to make it all happen in the kitchen and beyond.
Melbourne Central is a concept cafe restaurant serving classic favourites from each cuisine in Asia, by combining Asian ingredients with local produce and using both modern and traditional Asian cooking techniques. It is a place to enjoy affordable quality Asian food and Australian boutique wines.
Then came Chilli India (also in Melbourne Central), which is passionately authentic, with no compromise for the right spices, and freshly made roti (indian breads) in the traditional way.
Chillipadi Watergardens was launched late 2009, which with 400 to 500 seats is by far our biggest restaurant. The concept here is a cluster of various restaurants – Chinese with Yumcha, cafe with traditional Chilipadi offerings and a Bistro with Express Teppanyaki.
Robert, being the serial entrepreneur that he is, still talks about all this as “the beginning” of his dream to bring an affordable rendition of the major Asian, as well as Indian and Indochinese cuisines globally… maybe a Chillipadi in Shanghai? Dubai even..?