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Diaspo #88 : Hanane Ouaddahou, an ambitious chef in the United Arab Emirates  

Moroccans and others knew her from a Moroccan cooking show that she hosts on OSN Al Youm. Hanane Ouaddahou has, since then, become a culinary arts consultant and a businesswoman who is planning to launch a range of Moroccan products.

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Moroccan chef and culinary consultant Hanane Ouddahou. / Ph. DR

She is a famous figure of OSN Al Youm, a cooking TV channel known in the Gulf countries, Egypt, North America and even Morocco, Hanane Ouaddahou was born in Casablanca in 1981. After graduating high school in Morocco, she flew to France where she studied for two years to join a business school in Marseille. With a degree in management and audit in hand, Hanane Ouaddahou then worked as a consultant in business intelligence in Paris.

But since childhood, Hanane has been passionate about cooking. When she was pregnant with her first child, she made a crucial decision. Hanane decided to live for her passion. «I was tired of working in an office», she told Yabiladi.

The Moroccan woman opened her first Moroccan restaurant in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in Yvelines in the Île-de-France region. «I called it the Moroccan to pay tribute to Moroccan women and the traditions of my country», she recalled. 

Hanane, OSN Al Youm Moroccan chef

Two years later, a job opportunity in the United Arab Emirates was proposed to her husband. Hanane decided to sell her restaurant and join him. «A new adventure then begun», said the chef who had to restart from scratch, thus knocking on the doors of TV channels.

«I wanted to do my own cooking shows. And thank God, a door opened for me and I started my career as a TV chef, having a cooking show that bore my name. It was a live broadcast during the month of Ramadan, shot in Beirut.»

Hanane Ouddahou

And it was only a first step. Hosting culinary shows for television channels, Hanane Ouaddahou has done so much, especially with the OSN Al Youm channel. Her most recent project was shot a few years ago in Egypt where she received actors, singers and personalities from the Arab world who came to the studio to take part to the show while she was preparing dishes.

During her shows, Hanane received phone calls from several people interested in the Moroccan cuisine, «including Egyptians, fans from the Gulf countries and even Moroccans from the United States and Canada», she told Yabiladi.

«People always think that Moroccan cuisine is very difficult, so I had to make it look simple, using ingredients that are available outside Morocco», said Hanane referring to famous Moroccan cooking component «Ras El Hanout».

Besides broadcasts, Hanane Ouaddahou returned to the world of consulting but through the culinary arts. «I was a consultant for a great American celebrity», recalls our interlocutor. This is Martha Stewart, a television personality and an American businesswoman, founder of Martha Stewart Living magazine. «I accompanied her on a show about Arabian Gulf cuisine. I also went to New York for the filming of her show», she declared with pride.

Back to consulting and strengthened links with Morocco

An experience that will bring a lot to Hanane since she will also start consulting for restaurants. Last year, she developed during Ramadan a concept with Galleries Lafayette in Dubai that she called «My Morocco at your table». «I made two menus and trained the crew on Moroccan cuisine and traditions. I did the same with hotels», she continues.

And parallel to her television career, Hanane Ouaddahou is currently preparing a «300% Moroccan» project with her best friend, Fadoua Daif. «It is a concept that brings together four product lines : one for Moroccan caftans and clothing, a second one for spices and teas, a third one for cosmetics and the fourth one for decoration». 

«When I changed my career, it was to represent Moroccan cuisine and share our Moroccan culture».

Hanane Ouddahou

A link that pushes her, with her friend, to open a showroom here in Morocco, thus multiplying her round trips between her second country and the Kingdom. She is also proud that many Moroccans «shine in the Gulf countries», though lamenting the lack of culinary programs on Moroccan television.

«They do not give the means to young talents», she says, recalling that when she began her career, «a producer gave [her] the chance when [she] had not even started in the world of restaurants». She had contacted OSN Al Youm founder Youssef El Deeb through Facebook, following her father's advice while visiting her family in Casablanca.

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