Chris Padgett and his wife are the owners of Savor Morocco, a cooking school and guest house in Meknes, Morocco. He took a few minutes to answer some questions for us about his business and his tips for people traveling to Morocco for the first time.
Tell us a bit about your cooking school and guest house, Savor Morocco. What led you to opening such a business in Morocco?
Back when we lived in Texas, I owned a catering business that was fairly successful. We were able to sell it for quite a profit. For many years, I have been in the food service industry / customer service business. Both my wife and I wanted to live overseas for a season of our lives. When our kids were young, we decided it would be a great time to move and raise them in multi-lingual country. We moved over to Morocco with numerous business ideas, eventually landing on the cooking school / guest house.
Our cooking school has been running for almost 3 years. During this time, we have held close to 200 classes, teaching countless foreigners how to create some amazing Moroccan cuisine. People come in and learn how to prepare the traditional mint tea, an appetizer and main dish. At the same time, they learn about the history of the dishes along with various cultural differences, sprinkled in with some great stories of Morocco’s past.
The guest house is located on several floors above the cooking school. It has been a great safe haven for travelers throughout their trek. Often times, we have groups stay for extended amounts of time and use Meknes as a base to see numerous surrounding towns and villages, including Fes. One of the great aspects of our guest house is that we provide much more space than a traditional hotel room, along with a full-scale kitchen to prepare your own meals and facilities to wash your own clothes in the midst of those long trips.
What do you hope people will get out of their experience with Savor Morocco?
Our greatest hope is that they will go back to their home countries and prepare some of these amazing dishes with their family and friends. That for the rest of their lives, they will remember their time in the Roc from the cuisine that they learned. The people in this nation are extremely hospitable and live in such a richly storied land. We hope that people will always remember their time in Morocco as one of enrichment and delight.
Do you have a favorite Moroccan food or dish?
My favorite dish in Morocco is the Bastilla. It is a savory and sweet dish at the same time. Wrapped in phylo dough is a mixture of fish or chicken, almonds, onions, eggs, and spices. Baked in the oven, it is served hot with powdered sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
What do you think are the must-see, must-have Moroccan experiences for a first-time visitor?
Located about 30 minutes outside of Meknes are some ancient Roman ruins dating back over 2000 years. It’s quite a site to see. Another thing that people must see is the old medina of Fes. It’s one of the largest and most traditional shopping souks in all of Morocco. Also, eating a camel burger is a must for anyone that travels over here. Even though they sound interesting, they are delicious.
I understand that, in addition to Savor Morocco, you have an impressive athletic track record and may be the only chef / guest house owner triathlete in all of Morocco. Tell us briefly about your current athletic endeavors.
I am currently training for my second half-ironman in Lisbon at the end of April. It will be another stepping stone as I keep pushing myself to fulfill a life goal of completing an Ironman. It takes a lot of time and energy to keep pushing myself. But I know the fulfillment of that goal will be priceless.
Photo courtesy of Chris Padgett.