Our New Executive Chef at El Fenn and His New Spring Menu
SPRING has officially started – and we’ve launched a new dinner menu to celebrate the beginning of our favourite season.
Our new executive chef Bob Touatou has spent the last couple of months doing a deep dive into local produce and his menu is bursting with it. From crab caught off the coast of Tangier, to truffles foraged in the Maamora Forest, he’s showcasing the best of the season’s produce.
Dishes include smoked duck with beetroot compote, citrus & walnut sauce; dukkah-crusted rack of lamb with lentil brunoise & za’atar jus; and a ravioli of kale, figs & beldi cream cheese in sun-blushed tomato & marjoram sauce.
Lunch will remain the same as ever: a daily-changing menu of salads, meat or fish – with a side of sunshine. We’re open every day and you can reserve a table here.
We caught up with Bob to chat to him about inspirations, Marrakech and what’s so special about spring food.
5 minutes with…. Bob Boubakeur
Bob arrived at El Fenn in early 2022 as our new executive chef. His first menu launched in March.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m British Jordanian, was born in Algeria, moved to Britain when I was four and then traveled a lot with my father’s work. It means I experienced many different places and food cultures which I think was great experience for the job I do now.
Where have you worked before?
I was lucky enough to train in the kitchens of some great chefs including Gordon Ramsay at Petrus and Marco Pierre White at the Criterion. I worked all over London – most recently at the Ivy Market & Grill in Covent Garden.
Why did you make the move to Morocco?
The weather, the hospitality, the people, the food and products – and of course the chance to work at a place like El Fenn. I’ve got to be honest and say love had a part to play too. My partner and I met in London but she is Moroccan so the move here was logical.
What’s your vision for the food at El Fenn?
I’m aiming to infuse modern European with Moroccan touches to be in tune with El Fenn signature style. The hotel is known for its décor that combines European vintage with traditional Moroccan elements and I want our food to do the same. The menu will change every three months, we’ll keep it seasonal and use organic fruit and vegetables.
What’s inspired you since you’ve been in Marrakech?
The markets. I’ve walked for miles visiting them. The souks and the spice shops are fascinating. You can smell the cumin from five metres away. The produce here is so fresh. There are so many ingredients to play with.
What kind of Moroccan touches are you including on the menu?
It’s all about the produce here – the herbs and spices are amazing and I’ve found things I’ve never worked with before like a root I’ve found that is similar to galangal and a type of mint that tastes like a cross between mint and tarragon and is amazing on lamb. Then there are local cheeses, organic chicken and unusual vegetables like black broad beans. It’s a long list and all I need is to showcase these amazing ingredients.
What’s your favourite ingredient here in Morocco?
The olive oil. The flavour is quite amazing. It’s green, peppery and delicious and I don’t understand why Italian olive oil is so well known but not that from Morocco. We don’t use any other oil here.
And your top food tip to anyone visiting Marrakech?
You have to try the street food. It’s the closest you’ll get to home cooking and it’s delicious. The best places to go are the ones buried in tiny streets or where you see lots of Moroccan people eating. Then you know it’s good. The kebabs, the lentils, white bean stews… it’s all delicious. But perhaps the best thing is an egg roll. It’s a roll hollowed out and filled with cream cheese, soft boiled potato, hard boiled egg and chopped onion. They then put olive oil, harissa and cumin on it. I’ve eaten it everywhere – from a tiny stall on a street in Tangier, to a place on Jma el Fna. Trust me. It’s amazing every time.