Deena Naidoo, the winner of South Africa's first edition of MasterChef, will not be getting his very own restaurant – despite the show's promoters suggesting that the winner's "very own" eatery was part of the R8-million prize package for the winner.
According to Naidoo, an IT specialist from Durban, he will only run MondoVino restaurant at Montecasino restaurant for two years – and even then, will only be at the venue about five times a month as he needs to keep his full-time job.
Naidoo told The Citizen: "It has been presented as though I have acquired ... a new restaurant as part of the main prize.
"But this is far from true. I will only run the restaurant for two years," he said yesterday at MondoVino.
Naidoo said that he did not own the title deeds to the restaurant, but would be given a percentage of the restaurant's profits instead. He would not, however, disclose the amount.
"I am not an R8-million man. The perception that I am sitting with that money is unfair and it is time for the public to know this.
"I don't want people to look at it as if I am this guy sitting with all this cash."
Besides the restaurant, Naidoo says he received prizes totalling R1-million – with the restaurant having a "R7-million replacement value".
Naidoo told The Citizen: "Ninety-nine percent of the public are under the impression I have 'inherited' a restaurant, but the reality is that this restaurant happens to have a R7-million replacement value."
M-Net had advertised last December that it had partnered with Tsogo Sun to give the winner of MasterChef South Africa prizes totalling R8-million, writing on its website that "the winner would receive cash, a car, a trip to Italy, a sommelier course, one-on- one master classes from an award-winning cellar master, wine and, a first for local reality shows: his or her very own restaurant!"
According to The Citizen M-Net's Ingrid Engelbrecht denied the perception was created that the winner would own his or her own restaurant.
"When the prize was originally decided upon we did not know who the winner would be, where they reside or what their personal circumstances are," Engelbrecht said.
"M-Net and Tsogo Sun ensured that various, flexible options were in place for the winner regarding the restaurant prize," Engelbrecht said.
"The prize was advertised this way because the first and main option made available to the winner regarding the restaurant is the full-time running of the restaurant as head chef, to the value of R7-million."
But on Friday afternoon, M-Net and Tsogo Sun refuted the newspaper's claims that MasterChef South Africa winner Deena Naidoo was disappointed with his prize package, and that he will not be getting his own restaurant, saying it was "factually incorrect".
A statement released by the two companies said: "The total restaurant prize included (amongst other things) the full-time running and rebranding of the floor space. This arrangement was rent free, for two years. However, M-Net and Tsogo Sun structured the sponsorship to permit the MasterChef winner to choose between various options of participation in the restaurant, knowing that the winner might not be able to take up such a fantastic prize."
It continued: "Deena elected a joint venture operation where he will share in the restaurant profits and partake in the rebranding and relaunch of the restaurant. This will run for two years. This decision was based on the fact that Deena, his wife and children are unable to relocate to Johannesburg at this time."
The statement also included a quote from the Masterchef winner: “I consider myself privileged and am extremely grateful to have won this prize. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ... At no point have I ever been disappointed with the arrangement I have with M-Net and Tsogo Sun. In fact, they have been extremely accommodating and flexible and are allowing me the chance to run this restaurant whilst keeping my current job in Durban. Tsogo Sun appreciates that my family comes first. I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this journey with them.”
Tsogo Sun announced a two-year contract with Naidoo on Tuesday, and announced that MondoVino will be refurbished and named Aarya – after Naidoo's daughter – for its reopening in November.
Naidoo said he would add his own flair to the menu and the restaurant would be a reflection of South Africa, and Tsogo Sun said that one of the MasterChef judges, Benny Masekwameng, would be on hand to "guide and support" Naidoo.