Alex lives his dream, with new venture in sight
Following a rise in popularity, aspiring chef Alex Cheah’s Carlton apartment-based restaurant was shut down by the City of Melbourne earlier this year, but all hope is not lost yet.
After sharing his love for cooking with his friends and family, Mr Cheah was encouraged to open his high-rise apartment called Teishoku Tuesdays to the wider public, and within the first month of this year the restaurant was fully booked until 2024.
Diners were treated to a unique experience at the tiny two-seater eatery where they could indulge in Japanese food and bespoke cocktails, but as the reservations came flooding, it wasn’t the only storm brewing.
“I was really surprised at the demand, it spread mostly [by] word-of-mouth until TikTok hit and that’s when things pretty much hit the fan,” Mr Cheah said.
As someone who has been cooking all his life and been involved in the business side of his family’s restaurant back home in Malaysia, Mr Cheah knows all about offering restaurant-goers an experience.
Pairing this with his fondness for Japanese food, which came about during his time living in the UK, where he honed in on the speciality after noticing it was sparse and “frankly quite horrible there”, Mr Cheah was an up-and-coming Melbourne sensation.
But to Mr Cheah’s shock, his apartment-based restaurant was abruptly shut in February after the City of Melbourne found it was operating without a registration and didn’t have a liquor licence.
Teishoku Tuesdays was suddenly deemed to have committed an offence under the Victorian Food Act, which was prompted after the council received a report of an unregistered food business operating out of a residential property.
This saw a council environment health officer attend the property on February 13 to speak with Mr Cheah.
“The disappointment was immeasurable. I’m a foreigner and was unaware of the state laws,” Mr Cheah told Inner City News. “When I realised what I did wrong, I stopped immediately – I didn’t want any unnecessary drama.”
The sad news resulted in a flurry of online support for Mr Cheah who, instead of mulling over the disappointment of the closure, is looking ahead to a promising future.
“I am currently in culinary school to further my skills and gain an understanding of the Australian food industry in general,” Mr Cheah said.
Plans are already under way for the new space … it will be as cosy (or even cosier) as the last location, and I’ve made some little changes to the menu as well. I won’t say anything more!
Mr Cheah said he was grateful for the opportunity to cook for the community and his “amazing customers,” adding “I haven’t forgotten anyone from the waiting list”.
“I look forward to serving them again.”
Thirteen home-based food businesses are registered with the council, albeit none of them operate as restaurants but rather as small-scale food preparation sites. •
To follow Mr Cheah’s next venture, visit @teishokutuesdays on Instagram.