Darshan Chetty, the Executive Chef at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Centre Johannesburg OR Tambo, heads up the property’s F&B facilities, which range from grab-and-go to upscale comfort food, inspired by South African favourites. With strong experience in both fine dining and conference catering, Darshan is passionate about local produce and has created a range of culinary experiences and menus that will appeal to the diverse audience visiting the hotel.
He’s a graduate of the International Hotel School and has worked as exec chef at The Aviator Hotel O.R Tambo, The Capital Pearls, La Montagne, Gateway Hotel and Marriott Kruger Gate. He enjoys blending Asian cuisine with African influences, and looks forward to training rising local talent through his new position at the Radisson Hotel. We asked the talented chef a couple of questions about the F&B offering at the Hotel, as well as his training and development philosophy.
Tell us about the different F&B offerings at Radisson Hotel and who they are aimed at? I’m very excited and proud to say that we truly do have something for every type of guest! The Avenue offers friendly casual dining that is perfect for family, friends and special events, while The Deli is a one-stop-shop for the person on the go, with premade wraps and takeaway coffees. Open 24 hours, it is well suited to the early bird and night owl – however, it is also a hit with the kids – they’ll love the gourmet milkshakes and delicious doughnuts. Not to neglect the health conscious, you’ll also find a wide range of health pots, juice shots and snacks.
If you’re working by the pool or meeting a friend for lunch, we’d recommend The Peacock Lounge which features an à la carte menu available indoors, poolside and at the bar, for relaxed dining. Lastly, Level Seven delivers quintessential Joburg fine dining with a flair for the dramatic – this one is for special occasions, romantic dinners and entertaining high-profile business colleagues.
What was your inspiration behind The Avenue’s menu and can you share some of your favourite dishes? Loved favourites, local and international classics with a twist and food that makes you smile – that’s the inspiration behind The Avenue! Some highlights include bobotie spring rolls, watermelon and spicy shrimp salad and, of course, my signature Durban Spiced curry. My Busta Burgers also come highly rated!
For the grab and go menu in The Deli, are there any interesting menu innovations that you would like to share? We really wanted to create a menu that could appeal to all while remaining fresh and healthy. One of our innovations are our unique wraps – the actual wrap is home made and I promise you won’t find anything like it elsewhere!
For the cocktail bars in the hotel, has there been any input from the culinary team in developing either the drinks or an accompanying menu? The culinary team plays a big role in creating flavour profiles and food pairing experiences. We look at our menus as experiences. For example, we work hand in hand with the bar when looking at gins for food pairings and assist them in selecting flavours such as citrus and spice. We also like to add some adventure – one of our drinks incorporates candyfloss.
Can you tell me more about your training and development philosophy? How will you be implementing this at the Radisson? I could be called a hands-on chef! Once I have the idea for a menu and an accompanying experience, my focus becomes briefing and communicating the vision. I will gather my team and describe the ingredients, the possible process, and the desired outcome. Then I leave it to them because it’s important that they can also realise it. Once they’ve finished, we get together and taste it. Here we zero in on the details, checking the finish, texture, flavour etc. Next, we work on the plating together. This step of the process calls for a focus on uniqueness! What’s most important is the discussion that follows where we talk through and agree on all of the elements and the procedure. There you have it – hands on and collaborative!
Lastly, what’s on the cards for catering menus and how will the large-scale catering offerings for Radisson standout from other eventing and conference venues? My career has been built on catering for bulk events. It can be extremely demanding but what sets our catering apart is that our team will be working specifically to each function. Often conference venues go hand in hand with boring set menus – I can assure you that you won’t find one of those here. We care about the details and we understand that food makes or breaks an event. That’s why I’m completely involved in the process, from discussing budget to listening to what you want. Our catering is customised and tailored to what you need, with the goal of wowing your guests.