Johannesburg

Chef Talk – Shaneil Dinna, Hyatt Regency

12 May 2017
Shaneil Dinna, Executive Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

When Shaneil Dinna, Executive Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, told school mates his plans to become a chef, they asked: ‘Do you think you’ll get a job?’ Celebrating his 34th birthday in December, Dinna has worked in top hotel kitchens across South Africa but chefdom was not then the coveted career it is today. Recall, if you can, a time when when the cooking channel, Jamie Oliver, reality TV and Masterchef. ‘Now’, he says, ‘I can be sitting at a table with an astronaut and a surgeon, and when people hear what I do they immediately want to talk recipes’.
We managed to get him out his busy kitchen at Hyatt Regency’s OneNINEOne restaurant to find out more about him.

The first thing I ever made were scones from my mother’s recipe. At the time I was in Grade 6.
The most important thing to learn about being a hotel chef is how to co-ordinate many daily activities to ensure it all runs smoothly. We have a team of 15 chefs at Hyatt Regency taking care of the restaurant, conferencing, lounge, bar and room service.
What you need to know about being a chef is that it is all about service and it’s always been about that. A culture of service is not about being a servant but about enjoying seeing other people made happy from the work you do.
What you need to understand about eating is that it’s a social experience. Think about it, you don’t ever enjoy eating as much alone as you do when you are socialising.
My most recent inspiration is Korean food, from a recent trip to Perth where I went to promote South African cuisine.
Our menu has some Asian-style dishes but we emphasise locally inspired dishes and farmed ingredients. We change our menu each season. Supporting sustainable fishing, using organic meat and produce from local farms are globally part of the Hyatt Regency’s ethical practices.
What I love about working with food is seeing the joy that people get from it. Our kitchen at OneNINEOne is open to the restaurant so you can see it on people’s faces when they are loving their meal.
Joburg is an exciting food destination because you can experience so many different tastes from the best Mexican churros at a food market to fantastic Ethiopian dishes, Turkish or Middle Eastern food.
The tattoo on my arm is the sign of Ohm, the sacred sound of the universe being quiet.

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