About Sathish Rao

Sathish is a former professional racing cyclist who represented Karnataka in the Indian national championships. Subsidized by the Indian government, he rode his way across Europe on a bicycle with just a knapsack of belongings before purchasing a plane ticket to the US. After a brief tour he returned to India and trained as a chef.The lure of America proved irresistible; he applied for a job at Continental Airlines and the company funded his training in avionics.

A gifted raconteur, his eyes sparkle zestfully as he talks about his adventures. But he's quick to admit that never in his wildest dreams did he expect to reach this level of success as a restaurateur or that he would rub shoulders with, and serve global luminaries in the ilk of former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, and Oscar and Grammy award-winning music director, A.R. Rahman. Rahman, who notably scored music for the runaway hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, has Sathish's mobile number and calls to request meals when he is in town. The chain has seen its fair share of celebrity guests, Bollywood actors and musicians like Hema Malini, Shreya Ghosal, and Richa Sharma.

Udipi Cafe would go on to garner attention and win kudos for it's perennially congenial chef/owner. The Fearless Critic Houston Restaurant Guide gave Udipi a whopping 9.3 rating in 2008, naming it Best Vegetarian Restaurant and extolled the cafe for it's "South Indian flavors exciting enough to incite existential crises in carnivores". Robin Goldstein, the founder of Fearless Critic, invited Sathish to prepare dosas on site at his book launches and private events in this city. Rob Walsh, the Houston Press food critic named Udipi the Best Indian Restaurant for 2001 and 2002. It's also a place where award-winning chefs like Sparrow Bar + Cookshop's Monica Pope love to eat; Udipi is a venue that Underbelly's Chef Chris Shepherd includes on his culinary tours.

"My father wanted me to study medicine or engineering, but destiny brought me back to my roots," says Sathish contemplatively.

He and Sangeeta are proud parents to Sairaj, 20, and Saidev, 17. Sairaj is student of Environmental Science and Geology along with Graphic Design and Animation at the University of Houston; he is fluent in Japanese. Saidev will be a senior at Kempner High School and is a champion diver at Fort Bend County; he has qualified for the Olympic trials and is training in Indiana this summer. Both boys help with the family business on weekends.

"Well, he's a people's person. He works very hard. He's very generous and helpful - qualities that endear him to people. And of course, he's great with food."

Sangeetha