The Team

The team at Chaiwala is peerless, having held positions in kitchens, bars and hospitality all over the world for many years. The team comes together at Chaiwala to bring guests the ultimate dining experience. Expect great food, great drinks and exceptional service.

Chaiwala's culinary director, Balaji Balachander

Balaji Balachander

Culinary Director

Chef Balaji Balachander, known to his friends and colleagues as Bala, is heading the kitchen at Chaiwala where he leads the culinary direction and menu development. A long-time friend of Pirata Group co-founder Manuel Palacio, opening a Hong Kong destination together has been a dream in the making many years.

Chef Bala is known internationally for his experience at Michelin-starred Benares, London. He has since returned home to Chennai where he opened his own restaurant SALT in 2015, much to the delight of his friends and family. Now with three locations in Chennai and Bangalore, SALT’s “Indian soul food” has become a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike.

Bala’s culinary journey started at a young age in his mother’s kitchen, and after catering college in Chennai he was appointed to his first position at the Taj Coromandel, where he was promoted to running the kitchen at their award-winning restaurant Southern Spice

Ismael Herrera

General Manager

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Sevilla, Ismael Herrera joins the Pirata Group team as General Manager at sophisticated dining destination Chaiwala. With a sommelier course under his belt, as well as a hotel management degree from prestigious EAE Business School and a one-year stint at bartending school, Ismael will be making his first appearance in Asia’s restaurant scene with Pirata Group.

Previous General Manager at global lifestyle brand Pacha Group, Ismael brings over 20 years of F&B experience to Hong Kong. Starting off as a General Manager for fine-dining restaurant El Ayoun in Ibiza, Ismael’s love for food and determination for success led him to thrive as an F&B Group Director at Muscat Hills Resort and Beach Club in Oman. While away from the energetic restaurants, you can find Ismael relaxing by the beach with a glass of wine in hand, soaking in the sun.

Chaiwala's general manager, Ismael Herrera
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