It's been five months since Aarya opened its doors to the public and the response has been overwhelming. Thousands of MasterChef SA fans have flocked to Montecasino in Fourways for a taste of the culinary talent that created South Africa's first MasterChef SA winner.
The restaurant's popularity can largely be attributed to the influence and charisma of the man behind it all – Deena Naidoo – and the wealth of experience provided by his partnership with hotels, gaming and entertainment giant, Tsogo Sun.
Says Deena, "I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the positive feedback we've received from both the public and the media in the very short time that Aarya has been open. My initial fears of opening my own restaurant are now a distant memory thanks to the support I have received from Tsogo Sun and the amazing team at Aarya, including the general manager of the SunSquare Montecasino hotel where Aarya is situated, Jacques Heath, Aarya's executive chef Kenneth Ngubane and his team of chefs, and the waitron staff. My relationship with Tsogo Sun has proven to be a very successful venture, and one for which I am eternally grateful. I can now proudly refer to myself as a restaurateur."
And a restaurateur he is. Deena has been through the highs, the lows, the moments of frustration and of elation, learning some very valuable lessons along the way, not least of which is that the restaurant industry demands hours of hard work, dedication and a personal sacrifice.
Although Deena is commuting between Durban and Johannesburg to be at the restaurant on weekends, he is in regular contact with the team who makes his vision a delectable reality on the plates of diners every night and he believes he has gained a tangible measurement of what's involved in the management of a restaurant.
When asked what else he has learnt, Deena says, "Success as a restaurateur requires you to surround yourself with a team of driven individuals you can rely on and who share your passion – you cannot do it alone. You also can't please everyone, but this shouldn't stop you from trying. And lastly, you should learn from your harshest critics, because they are in effect bringing faults to your attention, which gives you the opportunity to correct them immediately."
In response to the overwhelming reaction of the media to his venture, Deena has this to say, "I'd like to thank the media for the exposure and support they have given to me and my restaurant. It's positive and reassuring. I promised the public a truly South African family-style restaurant and I believe I have delivered on that."
To book your table at Aarya, contact +27 11 577 7007 and for more information on Aarya – Deena's Restaurant, MasterChef SA go to www.montecasino.co.za.