In their four years travelling the globe, Vincent Conti and Mario Minichilli discovered authentic masala tea throughout the sub continent. Upon returning to Australia they opened a café in St Kilda and began developing a chai blend inspired by those they’d fallen in love with in India. As they perfected their recipe, customers grew to love their chai and fate brought about a friendship with Koray Gencel. The three of them founded Prana Chai and the rest, as they say, is history!
Here is little bit more about Mario...
What are some of your obsessions:
Sailing, my daughter, Practicing the guitar and you tube, mostly sailing channels and videos of craftsmen making things, I love watching people working, especially when they are obviously skilled at what they do, but sometimes I end up watching weird videos of machines making chains or something, hypnotised like a bunny rabbit. can’t look away! can’t look away!
Who/what inspires me:
I’m inspired by my travelling hobo days. I went all over the world for years mostly in the third world and saw a lot of interesting things but what changed my life was the less privileged people I met, so many of them, happy and generous. After meeting so many people like this I realised how lucky I was and now I feel obliged to take advantage of the pure luck that was handed to me when I was born in such a fair and stable country with so much opportunity
Im also inspired by a my finite time on the earth, It pushes me into action. Im often apprehensive when embarking on a new business or adventure. I think most of the time we need to really force ourselves into doing big things so I push myself to take the first steps, most of the time before I'm ready, I’m always talking to myself, something like.... "Marz! buddy, You’re not getting any younger and this life is for living! What’s the worst that could happen, you have a great family and they will always be there for you when you fall on your face, Relax! and just go for it" or something along those lines.
My favourite way to use/enjoy Prana Chai:
I like warming up my chai with soy on a stove, really slowly, when it starts to get warm I use a spoon to take little sips, sometimes inadvertently slurping down a peppercorn right to the back of my throat, sending me into a coughing fit till my eyes water like I’m crying. But most of the time I take a sip every 10 seconds or so till it tastes just right, then I quickly strain it and go outside to enjoy. The game is to catch that perfect brew before it falls off the cliff so to speak.
Strange things about me:
I only ever own two pairs of shoes one pair of runners and one pair of "look at me I’m an adult" shoes, I’ll wear them till I can’t stand the water getting in through the split soles any more. The strange thing is though that I’ll put up with looking like a homeless crack head simply because I hate shoe shopping. Weird right?
My wildest dream / vision:
My dream is to jump on the boat and take my family traveling, across oceans to adventurous places. Just the three of us, reading, playing guitar, watching sunsets, and battling the bad weather together as a team and enjoying the smooth sailing as a family. Home school my daughter for a few years and teach her to sail so that she can feel the satisfaction of passage making and have the sense of freedom that comes with being a sailor. And show her how big the world is and how many fantastic places and people there are to see if you just go looking. And teach her that ANY life is possible.
In reality they will both probably suffer from excruciating sea sickness and hate it. My Fiery hispanic wife will probably threaten me at knife point and force me to turn this fucking boat around before I stab you "hijo de puta" I might need to meet them at every destination after passage making solo. Which would have its own advantages though. Or perhaps I just hide all the potential weapons.
What are you most grateful for at Team Prana Chai:
Im grateful that I’m able to come to work with my two best mates every day, I genuinely can’t wait to get to work. and boy do we laugh, blending chai and paying out on each other, it often ends in fits of laughter. I reckon we should have a camera in here, It would be the best rated reality tv ever.
Im also grateful that there are so many more diligent people here than myself because I'm a massive procrastinator, and I also have no memory so I'm like a lost child around here basically. Im often thinking, "Honestly if I wasn't a co-owner I’d have been sacked sixteen times already".