As cliche as it sounds, when one door closes, another opens. Rishi Naleendra was in Australia when he gave up studying architecture for food, starting his career cooking at Taxi Dining Room (now Taxi Kitchen) in Melbourne. Instead of building homes, he now builds restaurants, which include the fine-dining Cloudstreet and the casual Kotuwa in Singapore. One might say the architect in him has helped, but there’s more to him than a strong internal focus of control; a quick chat with the stoic chef will also reveal an obsession with music and golf, and as the walls in Cloudstreet will show, his love of painting.
What is your idea of success?
Being happy with what I do. In the last six years, there are very few days when I’ve woken up feeling down. I’m usually excited to head to work. I think that progression also adds to my happiness. Work provides me with peace of mind and happiness, and being able to settle my mind in that happy place with my work is the biggest success that I’ve had.
How do you feel about risks?
I love a good risk, but I don’t like the term ‘calculated risk’. If you’re calculating your risk too much, it’s not really a risk anymore. A good risk is a good way to test yourself, whether you’re capable or not, and it comes back to the fact that I am not afraid to fail. Make your goals almost impossible and you’ll push yourself to get to the next level.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
I would like to fight world hunger, but this needs to start from me. So I believe that we don’t need to change the world. We need to understand the world as a whole and our place in it. The fact that we are sharing Earth with nature, there are so many things that we take for granted and assume to be ours. So instead of changing the world, we should look inward and make the change from within ourselves.