Gabriel Von Roda is an entrepreneur, restaurateur and chef, passionate about food and recently opened his first restaurant, Cantina Lanka, a hip pizzeria and taqueria in Sri Lanka. Gabriel is German but has a global perspective, growing up in Singapore and studying for his M.B.A. at Harvard, before working in Shanghai and Santiago and then moving to Hong Kong.
Gabriel speaks fluent German, English, Mandarin and Spanish, and applies his global perspective and love for food and culture to his restaurant and menus.
We caught up with Gabriel to find out more about his passion for local flavours and more on his next steps in his career.
As a chef and restaurateur how do you deal with local challenges when setting up a restaurant?
We’ve found it’s best to have a local partner, who can help you with the local aspects of the business.
How do you deal with local tastes?
We incorporate some local elements in our menu, such as utilising local flavours and creating dishes for vegetarians such as our jackfruit taco and the popular cauliflower taco. It also helps that we use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.
How do you think about promoting your menus
We use Google and TripAdvisor at the moment, but Dishtag seems like a great platform. We can’t wait for customers to discover us.
Best opening of a venue
We usually hold industry nights where we test drive our food and train the kitchen staff. This seems to be the most effective. Our industry contacts – and our neighbours – eat for free on those nights.
Most under pressure moment
Openings are always very stressful.
We have an open plan kitchen. One night, the smoke hood fans failed. Chilli spices filled the room and people started coughing.
What’s next for your restaurant?
An Asian BBQ stick-style place, inspired by the yakitori and satay places of the region.