14 November 2012 by Denise Slabbert

Deena’s place in the sun…

Deena Naidoo, winner of South Africa’s very first MasterChef competition, has opened a new eatery at the Montecasino entertainment complex in Johannesburg.

Deena Naidoo, proud proprietor of Aarya at Montecasino

After being glued to the MasterChef South Africa television series for weeks earlier this year, South Africans can now sample the dishes of its winner, Deena Naidoo. In accordance with his prize from programme sponsor Tsogo Sun, Naidoo is now at the helm of the restaurant Aarya*, located at the Montecasino entertainment complex in Johannesburg.

Deena, his wife Kathy and daughter Aarya with the MD of Tsogo Sun Hotels, Graham Wood

Aarya’s menu has been designed to bring people from diverse cultures and backgrounds together, in the spirit of the MasterChef competition. With Naidoo’s knowledge of spices, inspired by his Indian heritage, it is, however, rich in unusual taste combinations.

Says the chef: 'Throughout MasterChef I proved that I’m not a curry king and that my food reflects the South African palate in all its diversity and multicultural influences.

'The new world is defined by spice, and the dishes on my menu are strongly spiced and flavour-orientated. All the dishes on the menu reflect my philosophy of highlighting core flavours and using ingredients in moderation.'

Throughout MasterChef I proved that I’m not a curry king and that my food reflects the South African palate in all its diversity and multicultural influences.

Diners can expect a wide range of gastronomic influences from Aarya's dishes, from the typically South African potted snoek served with toasted beer bread, to a Mediterranean couscous salad, to a South American salsa verde. Some of the dishes MasterChef viewers salivated over have made their way onto the menu, such as Naidoo’s butter chicken and jeera basmati rice, and coriander crusted lamb loin with onion and spinach bhaji.

Aarya has been developed as an interactive restaurant, and includes a glass booth in the kitchen that fronts on to an open-service buffet. Chefs can thus be viewed in action, adding an element of entertainment to a meal.

Aarya is located in the SunSquare Montecasino hotel, and is open daily for lunch and dinner. For reservations, call + 27 (0)11 557 7007. 

* The restaurant is named after Naidoo's daughter.

Montecasino at night

Category: Food & Wine

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