Restaurateur – ZENZERO, Luce Osteria Contemporanea, V’s Bar,
and Roberto’s 1020 – and Chief Executive of PETRA Cucina
“I grew up in Ferrara, a culinary hub, which is in the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy. Food is an integral part of Italian culture, and I have always loved how a good place to eat records all the happiest moments of our lives.
My passion has always been to have my own restaurant. Restaurants are almost magical places, you know. I met the right person and fell in love, formed the right connections in a restaurant, made business deals, celebrated personal milestones so restaurants are to me, a place that invokes fabulous memories.
I told myself that I will one day own my place where people converge over great food and happy companionship. And well, here we are in Malaysia at Roberto’s, serving typical northern Italian version of pizza and pastas, in the Emilia Romagna and Tuscan style. A genuine Italian experience unlike any other place. It happened in a roundabout way though.
I came to Malaysia 15 years ago fimanage the Asia Pacific region in an oil and gas business. As food and restaurants are my passion, I started fimy first restaurant Zenzero Restaurant & Wine Bar as a place to hang out with business buddies in Kuala Lumpur nine years ago. I opened three more restaurants and a bar since then – Luce, which means light in Italian, Cicchetti which is Italian for tapas, V’s Bar and Roberto’s 1020 where the 1020 stands for October 2020, which is the date we started, right in the middle of the MCO.
Together with business partner – Petra Group’s chairman Datuk Vinod Sekhar – we are in the midst expanding Roberto’s and we look forward to our new phase of life beyond Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia.
I love what I do, and I think this is the best perk of taking your passion and making a business out of it. I am at ’work’ 7 days a week and it does not feel like work. I love being here because like ‘Cheers!’ it’s a place where, well, everybody knows my name (wink)”
“A brand named after you puts a lot of pressure, but it incentivises you to give your everything.”
Datuk Seri Bernard Chandran
Malaysian Fashion Maestro
“There is being stylish and then there is being fashionable. You can always spend money and follow trends fastidiously and be ‘fashionable’. Or you can feel within yourself instinctively what fiworks and pull it off with confidence, panache and well, style. That is when you elevate yourself from being someone who follows fashion to someone who is inherently stylish. The latter become trendsetters who are not afraid to fail in their experimentations. They are not afraid of harnessing the colours of the world and creating a shroud that is uniquely theirs. They dare to be different, most importantly they dare to be free to be themselves. My mother was one such person. She didn’t care that she worked in a factory – she was a diva, dressing immaculately to work and back. “I don’t care who sees me,” she would say. “ I dress for me”.
Watching that confidence and self belief in a woman who did not give a damn about the world and worked her magic through the clothes she painstakingly put together, from whatever little she had, made me who I am today. She showed me that I could become anything I wanted to be, as long as I believed enough in myself. Thus began my lifelong passion for fashion. My passion for fashion is so inherently tied up with who I am that I consider myself a creator more than a designer. Anything inspires me – music, arts, life, a flower, emotions… for life is beautiful, and I want to flcapture the essence of that flawless, joyous beauty through my creations. I am constantly pushing boundaries, innovating, never settling, creating ’feel good styles’ that makes you feel youthful, full of life. I test my styles all the time – on me.
Sometimes it may not work out, but hey, the only person I am seeking validation from is myself, not others. Fashion is fluid, it evolves and adapts to the mood and feel of an entire generation, but we creators thrive on that change and evolve with it – subliminally ensuring there is always bold elegance and a joy of life in every masterpiece we create. And that is our mark, our legacy to the future generations.”
“I am more than a designer, I am a creator.”