Abdel’s Favourites from the Marrakech Café

Abdel's Favourites

How come I ended up co-writing a cookbook? Well, I had known Abdel El Adraoui and his wife Zahra for a long time. Abdel is the owner/chef of the Marrakech Café in Evans Bay, Wellington, and he’d been talking for a few years about writing a Moroccan cookbook, so finally I said let’s do it. The idea from the start was to do a cookbook for New Zealanders who love Moroccan food, and want to cook simply and shop in their local supermarket (only one ingredient in the book can’t be found in a supermarket).

I thought we’d take the idea to a publisher, but after I had a long talk with a publisher we decided we could do it ourselves. At the beginning of 2013 we assembled a great team. Kate Whitley offered to do the photographs (you just have to open the book to see what a fine photographer she is), Anna Brown was the book designer (just open the book to see her wonderful design) and a group of students from the excellent Publishing Programme at Whitireia Polytechnic did the book production.

It’s one thing to cook out of your head for a café – it’s another thing to get all those recipes down in writing, for 4 or 6 people. We all cooked the recipes, trying quantities, cooking times etc, so that every recipe would reproduce Abdel’s great cooking. The idea was also to include small personal stories, so there were those stories to collect.

The publishing team not only oversaw the book production, but they were great marketers. Abdel had 500 copies printed, and in 3 months he had sold out and reordered another 500.

I think we all learnt what a lot of work a cookbook is, and we all love the end result. We celebrated with lunch at the café – of course! If you haven’t been to the Marrakech Café, you really should go, and once you’ve eaten the food there you’ll just have to buy the book. Or buy the book anyway!  www.marrakechcafe.co.nz

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