At 27, Mounir Ouaziz has just launched a new culinary project called “Visa for Taste” which just wrapped up its first edition. The aim of this project is to showcase young Moroccan talent, provide quality service and create delicious food. And if all goes well, he may possibly be the chef that reinvents Moroccan cuisine.
His History In The Kitchen
Mounir’s love for cooking goes back to his youth when he would watch his parents in the kitchen. By the time he was 14, Mounir was already in the kitchen surprising his family with his delicious cakes and dreaming of being a chef.
Mounir has since worked with some notable chefs in some of the finest establishments in the Red City during his young career.
He spent a year working under Michelin star chef Philippe Jourdin at the Royal Palm where Jourdin provided him a crash course in French cuisine, before he moved on to the Mandarin Oriental.
When the Mandarin opened in September 2015, Mounir was part of the inaugural team where he currently works under head chef Meryem Cherkaoui. Under Cherkaoui, he has discovered new ways of imagining traditional Moroccan dishes.
What Makes Him Different From Other Chefs?
Mounir has masterfully married traditional Moroccan dishes with subtle French touches. Mounir admits that he learned the importance of flavor before presentation, which explains the simple beauty of his dishes. As he puts it, “there is no need to complicate and dirty the plate”. Yet he relishes the opportunity to take risks in the kitchen. His cooking is striking because of his playfulness with new flavors and his willingness to add ingredients not typically found in Moroccan cuisine.
Visa For Taste
A major hit during the first edition of ‘Visa for Taste’ was the slow cooked beef shank, a traditional Moroccan dish. However, Mounir decided to play with the flavor and texture by adding an espuma and a crispy salsify chip to the beef and chickpea dish. The night was filled with novel flavors, including an assortment of chocolates created by a young Moroccan chocolatier, Reda Banna. The guests were surprised and then delighted when they bit into the sweet chocolate followed by a dose of liquid spice.
The event was staffed with young and enthusiastic talent from the Marrakesh restaurant scene. Mounir believes it is important to cultivate this rare pool of youngsters. He laments the fact that his staff; including barmen, a maître d’hôtel, waiters and cooks, all have a natural aptitude, but have trouble finding work. He worries that the younger generation, who harvest flair and skill, are too often pushed down and their dreams crushed.
This may be what makes Mounir so special in Marrakech. He spent two days working with Michelin star chef Thiery Marx and thought to himself, I want to bring what I have learned back to the new generation of Moroccan cooks.
What Does He Want In The Future?
Mounir hopes that he will have more opportunities to travel and experience new cuisine and flavours. He has already been selected to participate in the Moroccan Bocus d’Or and hopes to win and compete in France.
He is already planning the second edition of ‘Visa for Taste’ with the same team. After a grueling day of preparation and cooking he was a little nervous and drained by the end of the evening, but when he saw all the smiles he felt deep relief. The enthusiasm for his project was palpable and knowing that so many people believe in him and his talent has motivated him to continue with his passion project.
Why Is His Story Important?
Mounir Ouaziz is definitely a talent that should be on your radar. He is mixing up Moroccan cuisine in exciting new ways and he is passionate about bringing other young Moroccan talent along for the ride. As he would say “I want to raise the Moroccan flag and show what our generation is capable of”.