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This profile was last updated on 1/30/14  and contains information from public web pages.


Local Address: Iron, Minnesota, United States

Employment History

  • Chef - Owner
  • General Manager


  • master's degree , economics
  • PhD
200 Total References
Web References
aziza | san francisco : philosophy, 30 Jan 2014 [cached]
Mourad Lahlou has two life stories. Born and raised in a large extended family in the ancient Medina of Marrakesh, he came to the United States when he was 20 to study economics at San Francisco State University. Missing his native cuisine, he taught himself how to recreate his favorite Moroccan dishes with local ingredients and his own inventive techniques. Before long, he had embarked on a journey that would lead to a career as a pioneering Moroccan-American chef.
As chef/owner of Aziza in San Francisco, he has been recognized as one the most dynamic and individual chefs in the Bay Area. His strikingly modern reinventions of traditional Moroccan dishes are all about showcasing the great flavors of his native cuisine in ways that harmonize with the fresh, local, artisanal ingredients of Northern California.
Driven by a desire to strip away the clichés and misconceptions about Moroccan food and celebrate its true potential for fine dining, moourad's cooking is both cerebral and sensual - a rare blend of stunning presentation and meticulous attention to detail with soulful and often surprising flavor combinations.
Mourad opened his first restaurant, Kasbah, in San Rafael, California in 1996, and was recognized as a Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998. In 2001, looking to take his cooking in a more modern and sophisticated direction, he closed Kasbah and opened Aziza in San Francisco's Richmond district.
In 2008, Mourad was named a Rising Star Chef by StarChefs, and in 2009 the Chronicle raised Aziza's rating to three and a half stars. That same year, Zagat named Aziza one of the top 10 Bay Area restaurants of the decade, and Lahlou won Food Network's Iron Chef America by a record-breaking margin. And in 2010, Aziza became the first Moroccan restaurant to receive a Michelin Star.
Chef Lahlou's much-anticipated cookbook will be published by Artisan Books in fall, 2011.
Untitled Document, 21 Jan 2011 [cached]
Executive chef and owner Mourad Lahlou doesn't bark orders at anyone among the back-of-the-house crew of 13. Everybody on the line seems to be meticulously and artfully fulfilling their clearly defined roles. At the same time, it's obvious that working side-by-side is about helping each other stay in sync - and they do.
Lahlou, 42, is expediting, which means he's coordinating everything from the timing of each order to ensuring that every dish looks the way it was originally imagined. He examines the squab entree plated on a refined white dish. All the accompanying elements - smoked farro, Bordeaux spinach, parsnip and a balsamic reduction - are attractively arranged, but he notices that a tiny cluster of leaves from the green garnish has strayed from its proper place on top of the squab. He looks like a surgeon when he takes a large pair of tweezers and carefully moves the greens back where they belong.
He then methodically wipes the edge of the plate with a tightly rolled-up damp cloth (dipped in alcohol, not water because alcohol evaporates quickly and doesn't leave a mark). The server takes the plate, along with another entree that has already passed inspection, into the dining room.
"I'm the last person to touch the plate," says Lahlou, a self-taught chef, who was born and raised in Marrakesh, Morocco and came to San Francisco when he was 17 to study economics at San Francisco State University. "I am very hands on."
Lahlou, a thin, fit-looking man with shaved head and black tribal-looking tattoos covering his arms, not only works at the restaurant six days a week (he takes Tuesdays off when Aziza is closed), his work day typically starts at 7 a.m. and ends at midnight.
He's been that devoted to his work since Aziza opened in 2001. Despite being a practicing Muslim, it seems Lahlou spends almost every waking hour immersed in his restaurant and the food world. His girlfriend of 12 years, Farnoush Deylamian, is the general manager of Aziza. When they get home to Sausalito well after midnight, Lahlou has a snack and makes tea "that I never drink.
We have a profound mutual respect," says Lahlou, who has known Patterson for six years.
Recently, Lahlou and Deylamian went to a Warriors game. "That was an aberration," he says. "Someone gave us tickets."
Lahlou starts his day at home at 7 a.m. by answering work-related e-mails, texts and voice mail messages.
"That's my quiet time," he said.
Before changing into his white kitchen jacket, Lahlou makes himself an espresso at the machine behind the bar. Once the restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m., he is on non-stop high alert until the end of service at 11 p.m.
Lahlou seems to be all about details, yet he never loses sight of the big picture. And he sets that example for his staff. Spending three hours at the market every day may seem excessive, but it all makes sense when Lahlou explains it. First, he walks around the market to see what's available. He has brief conversations with farmers he's come to know over the years. Almost always, he has pre-ordered some things for pick up. But what if he can't get as much puntarelle (chicory-like winter salad green) as he wanted for the pumpkin vegetarian entree, one of his favorite things on the menu right now?
Just as he does during service in the kitchen, he starts improvising and making on-the-spot adjustments. He considers using the puntarelle in a soon-to-be-created salad instead of the entree because he won't need as much. At the same time, he starts thinking ahead to next week's menu. He playfully negotiates with that same farmer, Annabelle Lenderink, owner of La Tercera in Bolinas, to secure more Fairy Tale Pumpkins, which he thinks are the best around.
"What I do at the market is so crucial," says Lahlou.
About a year and a half ago, Lahlou was ready to put his restaurant in the hands of a chef de cuisine for the first time because he landed a book deal, along with a PBS series, which will be launched simultaneously in the fall of 2011.
"They need to be sincere and respectful, but I encourage them to let their personalities come through," says Lahlou.
Nothing makes Lahlou happier than to see Aziza's staff doing their work better than he can. "My job is to make sure to put everyone in the position that they can perform at their best," he says.
Interview: chef Mourad ..., 14 Oct 2013 [cached]
Interview: chef Mourad Lahlou (Aziza)
Interview: chef Mourad Lahlou (Aziza)
Aziza pastry chef Melissa Chou joined Mourad Lahlou at Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.
Mourad Lahlou moved from Marrakesh to San Francisco, and missing the cuisine of his youth, taught himself to make Moroccan classics. This interest ignited his career as a chef and restaurateur, beginning with Kasbah in San Rafael in 1996, and continuing across the Golden Gate Bridge at Aziza in 2001. Over time, his cuisine has become increasingly refined, and more focused on California. The location will also evolve, with Aziza moving from San Francisco's Outer Richmond neighborhood to the Financial District in 2014. I met Lahlou on September 7 at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, and he shared several culinary insights.
[...] An interview with chef Mourad Lahlou of the Outer Richmond's Aziza restaurant. - Food GPS [...]
Swans Neck Vodka, 4 June 2013 [cached]
Chef Mourad Lahlou is clearly a culinary genius.
MOURAD ..., 6 Oct 2012 [cached]
MOURAD LAHLOU MOURAD LAHLOU is the chef-owner of Aziza in San Francisco. A native of Marrakesh, Morocco, he opened his first restaurant, Kasbah, in San Rafael, CA in 1996, and was named a Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998. In 2008, Chef Lahlou was named a Rising Star Chef by StarChefs, and in 2009 year the Chronicle raised Aziza's rating to three and a half stars. That same year, Zagat named Aziza one of the top 10 Bay Area restaurants of the decade, and Chef Lahlou won the Food Network's Iron Chef America by a record-breaking margin. In 2010, Aziza became the first Moroccan restaurant to ever receive a Michelin star. His first cookbook, Mourad: New Moroccan, was published in 2011. (San Francisco, CA)
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