RISHI AND MANUELA
CHEEK BY JOWL
Rishi Naleendra and Manuela Toniolo met as co-workers at a Greek family restaurant in Melbourne 13 years ago and romance quickly blossomed; they’ve been together for 12 years and will be married for eight years in January. He’s the head chef and owner of the 21-month-old modern Australian restaurant, highly acclaimed for its simple yet refined fare. She’s the manager, but really oversees a number of operational responsibilities.
We had always wanted to open our own restaurant. It was a dream and something we were working hard towards when we were young
HAS A MUTUAL LOVE OF GASTRONOMY BROUGHT YOU CLOSER?
He said: As young hospitality individuals, it was really fun to go out and discover new places to eat and drink. We used to go and eat in a restaurant once a week, and over time it sort of became an obsession and motivated the both of us to want to have a restaurant before we turned 30. She said: As we got older and our experiences in the industry evolved, our passion and love increased.
DID YOU EVER THINK WORKING TOGETHER WOULD BE ROMANTIC?
He said: As young kids, we got to see each other all the time. We then went and worked in different places for around six years to gain more experience, and decided we should start working together again. She said: We had always wanted to open our own restaurant. It was a dream and something we were working hard towards when we were young.
HOW HAS SPENDING SO MUCH TIME TOGETHER SHAPED THE RELATIONSHIP?
He said: I think we work well together and we complement one another. It’s also important to have that one person you trust working alongside you. She said: I believe this has also made us stronger. It’s also nice to have someone supportive around me all the time.
DO YOU HAVE RULES ABOUT BRINGING WORK HOME?
He said: We communicate well with one another! We tend to leave it at work—however, being owners of the business, if something needs to be discussed, then we’ll talk about it at home. She said: We are comfortable talking about work at home, but it doesn’t usually happen. Once we’re home, we try to relax and unwind.
HOW COULD THE RELATIONSHIP IMPROVE?
He said: When I’ve been out all night drinking with my friends and come home legless, please open the door! She said: Please answer when I call your name and don’t make me repeat it a million times— and turn off the lights, it’s not rocket science!