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rising stars
September 2003 WASHINGTON, D.C.
B i o g r a p h y
Morou, who grew up on the Ivory Coast, says he cooks like he talks – “American with an accent,” a bit of an understatement if you ask us. At Signatures, Morou’s, first solo venture, the food is so creative and unexpected it defies any easy label.

Morou’s first inspiration in the kitchen came from his mother. Born into a large family, he would watch as his mother created impromptu feasts for up to 40 people when extended members of the family stopped by. Combining African, French and Middle Eastern flavors, she would turn everyday meals into celebrations.

Morou originally came to the United States in 1988 to pursue a degree in computer science. While attending school full time, he joined the opening staff of Francesco Ricchi’s I’Ricchi, one of D.C.'s premier fine dining Italian restaurants. Promoted when a co-worker quit an hour before beginning service, Morou remembers his first job in a kitchen, “ My brother kept yelling at me in French so no one realized that he was teaching me how to run my station!" This somewhat inauspicious beginning was the start of a stellar career. Morou joined Mark Miller in the kitchen of Red Sage and it was there that his culinary imagination was really awakened.

Eventually, Morou was appointed executive chef of Red Sage where he changed the menu from southwestern to creative American. At Signatures Morou feels he has found a true forum for expression. “Dishes that are considered traditional are new to me. I see them in ways that perhaps the diner would not, so I twist them a little,” he said, adding, "I appreciate the opportunity to express my creativity at the restaurant.” So do we.