Although Deena Naidoo rose to fame after winning the prestigious MasterChef SA competition in 2012, we met him for the first time when he was asked to judge the 2014 Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards. (The winners were announced at a special ceremony at the Stellenbosch Slowmarket on Saturday 12 April.) Since his MasterChef-success, Deena has launched his own restaurant, Aarya, at Tsogo Sun in Montecasino. Food has been a lifelong passion of his: he has spent years reading copiously, learning from others, experimenting and indulging his passion for all things culinary. His approach to food and cooking is to keep it as simple as possible and focus equally on taste and the presentation of the meal. We asked Deena to share his personal recommendations for restaurants in Johannesburg and Durban.
Pizza Oven in Sunninghill, Sandton – I love their simple menu and lovely thin-crusted pizzas.
Oriental Restaurant at The Workshop Shopping Centre in Durban. It’s one of the few remaining restaurants in Durban where you can find proper South African Indian dishes.
Gourmet Garage at Monte Casino. Their Old School hamburger never disappoints.
Restaurant with a view
The Pot & Kettle Restaurant at Botha’s Hill in KwaZulu-Natal. They have a beautiful view overlooking The Valley of a Thousand Hills.
Kara Nichas in Midrand and Durban. You can get a full-on lunch for less than R20!
Seattle Coffee Company in Rivonia. It’s a convenient spot right off the street.
Restaurant for a business lunch
The Panini Brothers in Sandton. It’s a traditional Italian family-run venue.
Spot for weeknight dinner with friends
Aarya at Monte Casino. It’s the only place that’s convenient enough for me to have dinner with friends!
Roma Revolving Restaurant in Durban. It takes me back in time.
End-of-the-month dinner spot
The Montego Bay Restaurant in Nelson Mandela Square. It’s my favourite seafood place; all that’s missing is a view of the sea!
I love the Shongweni Farmers’ Market. It’s just a few minutes out of Durban, and a great place to get fresh KwaZulu-Natal produce.
The French Kitchen by Michel Roux JR – a classic cookbook by the chef I most admire.
Lamb and saffron Hyderabadi breyani made with basmati rice. The tender, boneless lamb is marinated with mint-and-coriander yogurt and blended spices.