Ramesh Pillai was born and raised in Bombay, India. He graduated from Scott Christian College in Tamil Nadu, India in 1972 at age 17, then apprenticed at the Chola Sheraton. He graduated from Culinary University in Madras, India in 1978, then worked as garde manger at TAJ Coromandel in India. In 1980, he took an assistant chef job in Trowbridge, England for one year, then another year as garde manger for the Movenpick Hotel Group in Zurich, Switzerland. He returned to Madras, India for one year as executive chef of Sudersan International Group before moving to California, first for the Hilton Airport Los Angeles, followed by the Hotel Le Belage and finally, Hotel Intercontinental in San Diego as chef garde manger through 1985.
In 1986, he joined the Hyatt Hotels as executive sous chef in Richmond, Virginia and Puerto Rico, then escalated to executive chef for their properties in Grand Cayman BVI and Coral Gables. In 1991 he moved to the Miami Airport Hilton as executive chef for four more years.
In 1995 he accepted the position of executive chef for Wyndham’s El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico and in 1997, Great Chefs showed up to tape him for their Great Chefs of the Caribbean series for the Discovery Channel. He eventually became corporate chef for all of their Puerto Rican properties until 2000.
On January 1, 2001, he fulfilled a dream and opened “Chef Pillai’s Tantra” restaurant in Old San Juan, and ran that for almost 14 years. In 2014, he became the Director of Culinary Operations for International Hospitality Enterprises in Puerto Rico, spearheading the opening of Serafina Restaurant in the La Concha Renaissance Resort, and the new culinary operations of the prestigious historic Vanderbilt Hotel in Condado.