Monday, July 27, 2009

Faces in the Medina - Gail Leonard

Over the years there have been a lot of different people offering cooking lessons in Fez. Tourists, chefs and foodies have the city marked down as a "must visit" destination because of the wide range of culinary adventures available in and around the Fez Medina. Gail Leonard decided that what was needed was a little coordination and a way for intending visitors to book their culinary explorations in advance. The idea has grown into reality and Fez Food is up and running.

Recently The View from Fez, food editor, Marcel, caught up with Gail. Here is his report:

Gail Leonard, fabulously 40, previously ran a drug and alcohol agency in Yorkshire following a lot of research around the world, most notably 10 years in Berlin and a year in Tokyo whilst studying.

Loving the buzz of such extreme cities, she came to Fez for the first time in 2004 with her then partner. When I asked her "why Fez?" her eyes lit up.

"I Immediately fell in love with Fez because of the mystery and madness that the city offers at every single turn!".

Now embarking on a whole new adventure she has set up FezFood to promote cooking lessons and foodie adventures in the Fez region. What better way to access the local authentic culture, than by exploring the food and drinks that sustain it! Her first client is Clock Kitchen, café clock’s new cooking school, other ventures include trips to the Middle Atlas to hand roll couscous, tastings and tours of Meknes wineries and more delights are in progress. "I'm always on the lookout for people offering new culinary adventures in the region," Gail says.

Her favourite street food – chalouine (or hoummus quiche!) hard to find but worth it!
Favourite cafe – Café clock ("The staff do a great job at looking after my toddler Francesca whilst Mummy gets stuck into researching the cake!")
Favourite restaurant – Fes et gestes for great Moroccan fare
Favourite getaway – anywhere by the sea with great food!
Favourite dish to cook – tanjia.

What was so special about tanjia?

"The first time I felt properly embraced by my local community was the time I cooked tanjia. The whole street got involved in helping me with shopping, spices, translation at the community oven (Feran) and finally at the hammam furnace. Amazing!"

Given the forty-plus days in Fez, I could not avoid asking how she remains so cool and energtic.

"My secret for surviving the heat? Eating the best ice cream in Fez at The Villa and total immersion therapy (in Francesca’s princess paddling pool !)

Contact Gail at:

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