Chef Mourad Lahlou of Mourad - Biography

San Francisco, CA

September 2015

Mourad Lahlou traveled to the United States from Marrakesh, Morocco, in 1985 to study macroeconomics at San Francisco State University. At that time, Lahlou was more into numbers than food. He only began cooking to ease the loneliness he felt while studying far from home. Working from memories of watching his mother prepare traditional Moroccan dishes, Lahlou began to experiment for small groups of friends and professors.

After receiving his master’s degree in economics, Lahlou’s interest in the kitchen was getting serious, and he wanted to try his hand at it. He opened Kasbah in San Rafael, California, and in 1998 The San Francisco Chronicle named Lahlou a “Rising Star Chef.” But Lahlou wanted to create a modern restaurant where he could revolutionize Moroccan cuisine. So he conducted an extensive search for a San Francisco location and closed Kasbah to open Aziza in November 2001. At Aziza, Lahlou strives to innovate his native cuisine, unravelling the stereotypes surrounding it and sharing its fine dining potential. In 2007, he was named a StarChefs Rising Star, and in 2009, Aziza was awarded a three and a half stars from The San Francisco Chronicle.

With successful stints on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and a PBS series on Moroccan cuisine, Mourad published his first cookbook in 2011, Mourad: New Moroccan. Earlier this year the chef opened a second restaurant called Mourad, earning high praise from critics and the public. Serving food family style, he showcases his innovative meld between modern techniques and tradition.