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Deena Naidoo opens Aarya, his MasterChef SA Grand Prize

South Africa’s first MasterChef Deena Naidoo opened his restaurant Araya at MonteCasino last week.

It was a sparkling affair at the newly renamed Aarya restaurant (formerly Mondo Vino) at MonteCasino in Johannesburg.

An array of guests were on hand to witness Deena’s MasterChef journey continue into the unknown territory of managing a restaurant, not that he will be running it entirely on his own. He opted for a partnership agreement and has taken on responsibility for the branding and the menu which is not heavily focused on any specific meal genre.

I wanted to design a menu that would be representative of our country and its diversity,

It includes his trademark Butter Chicken Recipe and a delightful Crème Brulee with a dash of strawberry jam at the base, while it confused some this writer thought it was pretty neat and went back for seconds.


Deena Naidoo chats with Bonang Matheba, MC for the evening


Deena with his daughter Aarya after whom the restaurant is named, Kathy Naidoo and Tsogo Sun Hotels MD Graham Wood

The restaurant is named after his daughter, Aarya and means to “treat a woman with dignity, love and respect” which is something we came to understand about Deena all through his time on the TV show,

The name captures how I treat and present my passion for food. It is my philosophy

The restaurant itself has not gone through any refurbishment, it is mainly the branding and the menu that has changed.

Chef Benny was around as was Andrew Atkinson but no sign of Pete Goffe-Wood

Deena still has his job down in Durban so will not be present full time, this is only a two year partnership so it would be difficult to uproot ones entire family for a two year sojourn with a Johannesburg restaurant with no guarantee as to what will happen afterwards.

Rather unexpectedly none of Deena’s fellow MasterChef contestants were around to celebrate his restaurant opening with him?

What do you think of the MasterChef prize, or is Sue-Ann Allen the real winner?

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Avatar of Andrew Lieber (Ed)
Andrew Lieber (Ed) (have 502 posts in total)
Suffered from multiple personality disorders for the first year of Gourmet Guys. His primary personality has now taken control! Editor-In-Charge