Sanjay and Sunita Kumar have well and truly cemented their status as culinary stalwarts in Canberra.
From their humble beginnings serving Indian street food at the short-lived Westside Container Village, they went on to establish a multi-award-winning, community-centric restaurant, Daana. And although they closed Daana’s doors in September 2023, there are still ways to dine with Sanjay and Sunita.
Since February, the Kumars have taken the helm of The Abbey, rebranded The Abbey by Daana in Gold Creek, hosting and catering for functions in its multi-purpose venue.
The Abbey by Daana is a splendorous space. Have you been inside? With high ceilings and a balcony level, the world’s largest privately owned carving, a colossal organ in two parts, it is a majestic atmosphere. The Abbey is a blank canvas, ready to be transformed to fit whatever purpose it is serving. It can accommodate 450 people when utilising both its indoor and outdoor capabilities, based on the service style.
As we chat, it becomes clear that Sanjay and Sunita create catering with a difference. No two events will taste the same. While the team has a list of menu options available, they relish the challenge of communicating closely with the client and then tailoring a menu unique to the guests they are hosting.
“The first meeting we have with our client is information-gathering,” Sanjay explains.
“Then we go away and do detailed research before we meet again with our menu proposal. Every event is different. We have hosted community and corporate functions, social gatherings, celebrations and weddings, and we’re looking forward to school formals.”
Cuisines catered thus far include Lebanese, Croatian, Cambodian, Nepalese, Middle Eastern and Indian. Sanjay says the confidence to create menus across a variety of cuisines originated with the diverse variations they produced in their Thali offering each week at Daana. Thali creations included flavours from Tobago, Fiji, Mauritius, Indonesia and South Africa.
“Food connects people, and when it comes to special occasions like birthdays and weddings, that becomes even more integral. This is where our forte comes in – to provide food that connects people and evokes memories. The Abbey by Daana is dynamic and ever-changing. It is a place that allows any culture or heritage to come and celebrate special events. The Abbey is the right fit for us because we can cater to the broad spectrum of the community in this very multicultural centre.”
I noted that there are many ways to dine with the Kumars.
The Kumars’ heart for the community and to raise up those in need continues here at The Abbey. They will continue to host their Karma Kitchens, no-price-tag dinner events. Karma Kitchen evenings offer a luscious three-course meal with a difference. Diners pay from the heart, knowing that a portion of the proceeds go to a particular charity, not-for-profit organisation or cause.
The other popular opportunity is their cooking classes – your chance to learn with the best. The Induction Cooking classes are sponsored by the Climate Change and Energy Division of the ACT Government. Check out their website to see what cooking classes are coming in 2024.
Another way is through their catering division, Daana Catering, which has an impressive list of regular corporate and private clients. Contact them here.