Loh Teck Wei – Managing Director of Cellar 18 & Tong Woh Retail
In this interview, Loh Teck Wei, Managing Director of Cellar 18 & Tong Woh Retail, shares some insights into the industry in Malaysia.
What do you do?
I’m a managing director of Cellar 18 and Tong Woh Retail. I have 13 years of comprehensive experience in the wine and spirits industry. My expertise spans the entire spectrum of operations, encompassing the intricacies of both Tong Woh Retail and Cellar 18. I proudly hold the distinguished title of Certified Sake Sommelier, underscoring my profound knowledge and proficiency in beverages and alcoholic products. My focus is prominently on fine wines from diverse international origins. My extensive background positions me as a seasoned professional with a nuanced understanding of the intricacies within the dynamic landscape of the wine and spirits industry.
How did you get into the industry?
In 2010, I entered the wine industry, driven by my profound passion for food and beverage. I enrolled in an advanced diploma programme to pursue a comprehensive understanding of culinary arts. With a familial connection to the wine sector through my father’s wine import business, I further immersed myself in the intricacies of the field. An enriching internship experience in France, a country celebrated for its exquisite wines and culinary traditions, further fuelled my enthusiasm. My father, having acquired knowledge in a less technologically advanced era, instilled in me a profound appreciation for the industry.
My initiation into the intricacies of the wine world began with a meticulous seven-year tenure overseeing stock inventory. Transitioning in 2019, my responsibilities evolved to encompass intricate calculations and the facilitation of wine import. This progression has honed my professional skills and fostered a deepening passion for the wine industry. I am eager to leverage my unique journey and skills to contribute meaningfully to the dynamic world of wine.
What food memory from your childhood or travels stands out?
I have fond memories of my grandfather’s culinary expertise, particularly his abalone preparation with ginseng. This dish holds a special place in my heart as a cherished and memorable part of my upbringing. The nostalgic connection to abalone has endured over the years, influencing my culinary preferences. My favourite food is braised abalone and sea cucumber paired with Burgundy, showcasing an evolved and refined taste inspired by my early experience.
What does Loh Teck Wei do for fun?
In my leisure time, I find solace and relaxation in golf. Engaging in a game of golf serves as a rejuvenating and calming experience for my mental and physical well-being, particularly after a hectic work life. The deliberate and unhurried pace of gold allows me to immerse myself in moments of tranquillity, providing a necessary respite from the fast-paced nature of my working life. Additionally, I harbour a profound passion for diving, where I derive immense pleasure from exploring the serene and captivating depths of the sea. This pursuit not only gratifies my adventurous spirit but also allows me to appreciate the ocean’s harmonious beauty. These recreational activities contribute significantly to maintaining a balanced and composed demeanour in a hectic work schedule.
How have you grown in your profession? What are your key learnings from your start in the industry until now? Any misconceptions?
Ensuring high responsibility towards every customer, regardless of expenditure, is paramount in our commitment to customer satisfaction. The alignment of price and quality in our selection of wines is integral to upholding and enhancing our esteemed reputation in the industry. By consistently delivering exceptional products, we strive to maintain the trust and loyalty of our clientele, recognising the significant impact this has on our overall standing within the market.
What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
I am keen on establishing a network of 18 Cellar 18 outlets across Malaysia, as the number 18 holds significant personal importance as my lucky number. This strategic initiative is driven by a commitment to capitalise on market opportunities and meet the growing demand for Cellar 18 establishments. The vision is to create a widespread presence that caters to diverse consumer preferences and contributes positively to the wine industry landscape in Malaysia.