When I arrived at my hostel in Marrakech, I met another solo female traveler from Taiwan. Since I didn't have anything planned, she invited me to a cooking class. All I knew was it'd be 6 hours long and cost 55 euros.
Why not? I was down. Looking back, I'm grateful that I did it. It is easily one of the best experience I had in Marrakech. Even better than being scrub down and oil up in a hammam with a total stranger now a friend for life (yup, that happened too).
An Oasis in the Middle of Nowhere
We got picked up by a taxi driver and drove about 30km out of the city. Since I didn't even google the class, I had no idea what I was expecting. We were driving through the countryside on a dirt road with nothing in sight except the High Atlas mountains.
When we arrived, a gate opened up to a little paradise. It felt like I was living a Moroccan dream -colorful pillows and tea sets in the garden surrounded by an organic farm.
Tea and Culture
We met Chef Tarik who worked in the Middle East, Europe, and now return to his home country. He started the cooking school from scratch just about two years ago. He brought the piece of land, created an organic farm, and employed folks from the community.
In Morocco, brewing and drinking tea is a must-love tradition that shows hospitality and friendship. It is prepared by the head of the household and considered a respected act passed down by generations. Our tea master, Hassan showed us how he makes his tea.
The Moroccan tea includes green tea, which is imported from China (oh hayy), with mint and sugar.
Chef Tarik showed us spices for the tagines which didn't sound too crazy. And, we picked vegetables from the garden to begin our preparation. We also saw rabbits, chickens, peacocks, and a turkey in the coop.
It was still a little chilly in the morning and the staff gave us blankets without even asking. Ugh, they are so attentive and thoughtful.
Putting on our apron and chef's hat, we prepared three types of tagines - lamb, chicken, and vegetable. The steps were easy to follow. For a beginner like myself, he taught us how to properly peel tomatoes and potatoes with a knife.
We also made three types of salad - eggplant, squashed pumpkin, and roasted pepper with tomatoes. If that wasn't enough, we also prepared vegetable couscous. For his complete recipes, you can find it here and try it at home.
While our food was being cooked in the earthenware pot, we moved to another station to see how bread is made in the clay oven. This Moroccan flatbread is found everywhere and I ate it with every meal. We got to try freshly made bread with goat cheese covered in olive oil, cherry tomato, and herbs.
It was a yummy and light snack to have before we headed out on a walk with Hassan around his village.
Even though we couldn't communicate with Hassan in Arabic, I'd like to think I'm fluent in body language. He pointed out olive trees, cows, and even his house.
No Food Goes to Waste
When we returned, I was so hungry and ready to try our masterpiece. Chef Tarik beautifully set up the table with the dishes we made. I quickly took some shots and digged in right away.
If my trip in Morocco ended right there, I was already a happy camper. I was stuffed.
He surprised us with desert - orange jelly with yogurt and cookie crumbs and cooked banana glazed with honey and raisins.
There were so much food left. Chef Tarik reassured us nothing goes to waste. All the food goes back to the community and the food straps are used as fertilizers.
Cooking with Passion
When we couldn't get anymore happier, Chef Tarik surprised us again with a graduation ceremony. Let me tell you. I am such a sucker for these adorable gestures. He presented us with a certificate and we tossed our chef's hat in the air. Too cute.
We left the place with such a high and the biggest grin on our faces. Chef Tarik has been thoughtful in not just having cooking class but creating an experience for us.
From employing the local community to creating zero waste, he brings a sustainable business which promotes Moroccan culture and appreciation. I can tell he has a lot of passion in what he does and it's been inspiring to see it come to life.
For more info on his classes, check out Atelier de Cuisine. Here's a short clip of Marrakesh and our cooking class. 👇🏾
Phew! Hope this post didn't make you too hungry. It sure did for me. Before you head off to grab some goodies, please drop some love below in the comments.
Let me know if you have tried Moroccan food. What's your favorite? My is lamb, chicken, and vegetable tagines. Hahah, ok. I like them all. For all my readers from NYC, where is your favorite Moroccan restaurant? I need to find them!!
Want more food reads? Here's one: 4 LOW-KEY RESTAURANTS IN SANTIAGO, CHILE THAT DON'T SUCK