Moroccan Chefs Bringing Exotic Flair to the U.S.

Connecticut - Morocco has recently made significant strides in inviting foreign investment to boost tourism but it is also leaving a tasteful footprint in the culinary art internationally.

Moroccan chefs are achieving high recognitions for the best savory and sweet creations. The country recently won the prize for the best “main course” at the International Culinary Competition in Spain. The famous Lamb Tagine with prunes and almonds, always a favorite. The sweet and savory combination in this dish brings the world into a silky, buttery pause where all your senses gather around the addicting aroma of freshly picked saffron. You’d never want to press play again.

As a result, big productions such as Master Chef have decided to set up shop in Marrakesh, the culinary heart of Morocco. It is but an obvious choice, Marrakesh is a whimsical culinary hub of snake charmers, mounts of divine marinated olives, decadent lamb head invitingly smiling at you to eat it, and my all-time favorite Lamb Tanjia. A simple but intricate dish carefully seasoned in a clay jar and baked underground for two days. My soul is currently teleporting to Marrakesh as I describe it.

Harissa-Rubbed Rack of Lam with Braised Lamb Pastilla, Date Ginger Puree and Yogurt Emulsion

A Moroccan Kick to Your Taste Buds

Similarly, across the Atlantic, American chefs are venturing off and using uniquely Moroccan spices such as “Rass El Hanout,” where even “Moul Hanout” doesn’t know what’s in it. I was pleasantly surprised while watching the finale of “Top Chef,” where chef Amar Santana bravely reenacts the traditional Bastilla with a Dominican twist. The Dominican-American chef contestant whose roots dwell in the beautiful island of Dominican Republic, has fallen in love with the Moroccan flair and its cuisine. He was introduced to the culture, the food and people thanks to his friend and business partner, Ahmed Labbate, a seasoned restauranteur whose experience in hospitality stems from working for the most prestigious and luxurious hotels in Morocco and Germany. He forged his way into the highly competitive American culinary scene, bringing a unique identity, worldly passion and unprecedented experience.

Also part of the team, Moroccan chef Ghali Benhima. Chef Ghali brings Casablanca flair to Orange county, California in the fashionable city manner it is done a la Casablancaise. Together with Chef Amar, they promise an unforgettable culinary experience that takes your soul from the Caribbean to the exquisite scent of bubbling goat meat tagine in the hills of Agadir. The three enjoy making loyal patrons happy at two very busy Orange County restaurants: Vaca and Broadway by Amar Santana.

Another renowned Moroccan chef gracing Americans with Moroccan taste is Chef Mourad Lahlou, owner of Aziza in San Francisco. A native of Marrakesh, he traveled to the U.S. to study Economics and fell in love with cooking while feeling homesick as an international student. A Master’s degree earned, and his love of food only grew bigger. His dream was to revolutionize the Moroccan Cuisine.

Mourad Lahlou Chefowner of Aziza in San Francisco Demonstrated the Power of the Tagine
Mourad Lahlou Chefowner of Aziza in San Francisco Demonstrated the Power of the Tagine

He opened Aziza to introduce innovation to culinary traditions ancient in nature. The San Francisco chronicle awarded Chef Mourad 3 stars and was named a StartChefs Rising Star. Big networks quickly noticed his talent and casted him in prime time shows as a culinary expert and judge, shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef and his own show on the PBS channel. Today, Chef Mourad has earned the respect of world renowned culinary experts. He opened his second restaurant named Mourad, earning great reviews from critics and foodie fans alike.

It is safe to say that anytime you pair something with the taste of Morocco it is bound for success. Americans have clearly fallen in love with the Moroccan flair, from its sense awakening spices to its dreamy mosaic, Morocco constantly takes first place in making memorable, out of this world experiences.




  • The Moroccan Gold Eldorado

    The Moroccan Gold Eldorado, a Myth or a Reality?

    Rabat - Recently, a conspiracy theory video about a large gold discovery in Morocco is making rounds online. The video claims that a substantial gold reserve was discovered and is being extracted by a Canadian mining company called Maya Gold and Silver. We Moroccans are very proud human beings, we love our country and cherish...

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

    Qatar: How the Tables Are Turning in The Gulf

    Rabat - Amidst harsh sanctions and a long list of demands from its neighbors, Qatar’s ability to thrive under pressure may prove to be problematic for Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia and its coalition attempt to wait out Qatar, the recent spat in the Gulf continues to become more and more global, and severely against...

  • FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. If the nation doesn’t do more, the U.S. probably won’t quite meet the dramatic heat-trapping gas reduction goal it promised in last year’s Paris agreement to battle climate change, according to a new study. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

    Climate Change : If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Fix It

    Chefchaouen - Climate change is happening at home and around the world. Chefchaouen is doing its part by embracing clean energy climate solutions and engaging its citizens in climate action. When it comes to fighting climate change, cities and local leaders are best positioned to lead that charge. Local leaders from coastal to landlocked communities are...

  • 20

    India Orders Internal Probe into Mistaken Use of Morocco-Spain Border Picture

    Hyderabad - The Indian Ministry of Interior on Wednesday ordered an internal investigation to find out how a picture of Morocco-Spain border was used in its annual report to show floodlights along the India-Pakistan border. What is most embarrassing is that the annual report of previous years was tabled during the Budget Session of Indian...

  • Amid Growing Tension, Thousands of Moroccans Stage Pro-Rif March in Rabat

    Neglect in Harsh Soil: The Deep Roots of the Rif Crisis

    Rabat - The ongoing protests in northern Morocco started almost eight months ago, but they have their origin in nearly a century of violent repression by the state. The Rif has, in spite of itself, got involved into a peaceful revolt since the death of the fishmonger Mohcine Fikri at the end of October 2016, a...

  • Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani emir of Qatar

    The Qatar Crisis: What Does It Mean?

    Rabat - The recent diplomatic fallout between Qatar and the rest of the Middle East could have serious economic and geopolitical consequences across the globe. Earlier this week, Qatar’s diplomatic crisis took an extreme turn as several Arab states severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation.  The original list of countries in the coalition against...

  • Moroccans spend Laylat al-Qadr, the 26th day of Ramadan, at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.

    Ramadan: Not just Abstinence from Daily Intakes 

    By Abdellatif Oudra Rabat - The observance of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, compels Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. But it is not just about abstaining from food or drink.  Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed in commemoration of the revelation of Qur’an to the prophet Mohammad,...

  • Morocco Threatens to Terminate Agriculture Agreement with Europe

    Morocco and the EU: Managing the Future

    Rabat - Morocco enjoys proximity to Europe and is at an advantage of being favoured by the European Union as a close partner on political, economic, and cultural levels. Historical archives and political legacies tie Morocco directly with at least three influential European countries: France, Spain, and England. Demography, kinship, and immigration compel other EU...

  • The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab Spring

    The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab 'Spring'

    Rabat - In the last ten years or so, the Arab world has seen unprecedented collapses in the realms of politics and economy, among others. World NGOs regularly release area-specific rankings, in which Arab nations commonly rank at the bottom of lists in education, human rights, and income for instance while they top those of...

  • Thousands Hold Peaceful Demonstration in Memory of Mouhcine Fikri

    Al Hoceima and the Pedagogical Exercise

    Ottawa - What makes a democracy different from non-democracy? This is the classical and historical question asked by philosophers over the centuries and deeply questioned in the discipline of political science. Democracy cannot prevent inequality as the case in the United States where inequality is the highest globally. Democracy cannot stop corruption like in Brazil...