I thanked my lucky stars when I got invited to Masterchef SA winner Deena Naidoo’s restaurant Aarya at Montecasino’s Piazza yesterday. That was the 1st & last Masterchef series that I followed from start to end & I hadn’t been to the restaurant yet, so I was quite keen to check it out. It was an informal do with around 2 dozen foodies & of course Deena himself was there to host us.
We started off with platters of unexpected combinations of cold cuts, roasted peppers & brinjils, grilled artichokes, gorgonzola & olives (I’m sure there was more but that’s all I can remember).
Deena Naidoo himself
Deena is easily the most humble, grounded & down to earth person you’ll meet. He made a point of coming around to every table to introduce himself, chat with guests & thank us for coming (imagine that!). In case you’re wondering, he is at Aarya around every fortnight & commutes between Jozi & Durban (home). He answered questions, sharing about his life & the Masterchef competition quite openly & with such passion even though I imagine he must have had to tell the story a few million times by now!
Aarya is actually named after his daughter (lets say it together now, aahhhh!) & is Sanskrit. Translated it means noble, kind, honourable, dear, and favourable and is considered to be a respectful way of addressing women ( I know, I know, what a guy!). The other thing that struck me about him is his incredible sense of service to his family as the number 1, 2 & 3 priority in his life.
I loved this “story” of Deena up on the wall…
My (preconceived) perception was that the Aarya would be focused on Indian food & while the butter chicken was fantastic, as you can tell from the starter & dessert below, they serve up quite a range & have made a point of including local flavours on the menu too.
The butter chicken was creamy & just the right amount of heat. Obviously I had seconds 🙂
The kitchen opens up into the restaurant – I love seeing chefs at work!
The bar was quite a sight too!
There were a few options for dessert but I choose well went I went for this cheese cake.
I’m not normally a groupie but I couldn’t resist Deena’s warmth & chivalry 🙂
This was a fab way to kick off the weekend. Thanks to Sheena Gates for the invite!
Cnr William Nicol Drive & Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways, Johannesburg
011 557 7007