By NOORA FARAJ
AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES
Morocco recently chose its top chefs to participate in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or culinary competition to take place in France next year.
In an unprecedented move, Moroccan cuisine will feature at the event after the country was given a wild card that relieved it from the preliminary regional and international elimination stages.
Specialist haute cuisine and pastry chefs competed in separate categories over the course of two days in a bid to join the national team which qualified for the final stage of the Bocuse d’Or as well as selection to the African Cup of Pastry competition.
Competition organizer and President of the National Team of Catering Trades, Kamal Rahak Essoulami, said this was an important career opportunity for Moroccan chefs to compete at a high level event and their participation would benefit the country’s food and beverage industry.
Morocco is known for its eclectic cuisine which is influenced by its strategic trade routes and long history. The competing chefs are expected to add creative twists to their dishes while maintaining traditional Moroccan character.
“Moroccan cuisine is rich and has many strong influences. We have Moroccan Jewish cuisine, a Berber cuisine and an Arab-Andalusia cuisine. We have all this extraordinary wealth that is not yet known internationally and we need to make it known. We can do that by taking part in various competitions and also by getting marks and stars. We don’t have this yet in Africa but people are starting to talk about it,” said judge Meryem Cherkaoui, who trained at the Bocuse School in France.
The North African country has distinguished itself on an international scale in the confectionary trades. The winner of the sugar pastry section, Karim Ahrou, said Moroccan chefs are becoming more globally recognized.
“During the last 10 years, Morocco has made significant progress. The country took part in international competitions and ranked between 12 and 14 among 60 participating countries. Thanks to Allah, we are the first country in Africa and in the Arab World to receive this distinction. From now on, even European countries will have to compete against Morocco,” he said.
The catering and food exhibition, initiated by chef Paul Bocuse in 1987, takes place in the French town of Lyon every two years, and has become one of world’s biggest and most sophisticated fairs. It includes the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (World Pastry Cup) and recently, Mondial du Pain (World of Bread) contests.