10 Dishes with Celebrity Chef Massimiliano Alajmo
The chef at Sesamo in the Royal Mansour in Marrakech, tackles our speed round of questions.
After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “Bread and olive oil. Freshly baked bread is often an underestimated culinary treasure. It requires time, care and intention. Plus, it is one of the most convivial foods out there. You can break bread and share it without utensils—you eat it with your hands. And olive oil because it’s a blessing that pours out of the olives and carries with it amazing aromas.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “More than a dish, it’s a question of which ingredients I will and won’t use in our kitchens. Our focus is on real, authentic, natural ingredients, even if all the adjectives have been overused and lost some of their value.”
All-time favorite spice. “Tonka bean. I was introduced to it for the first time 24 years ago by Patrick Henriroux at La Pyramide in Vienne, France. He served me a crème brûlée with this incredible aroma. It wasn’t widely distributed back then, so I had to seek it out. Once I got my hands on some beans, I kept one in the pocket of my jacket for a year. No joke.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “We are currently listening to Chopin and Ezio Bosso during service. Bosso’s music, in particular, makes you really feel at one with the world and the ingredients in front of you.”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “Yes. I used to hang out in the kitchen of Le Calandre every day after school and watch my mom. She used to let me make cookies with her. I used to dream of one day having my own chef’s jacket.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “There isn’t just one cookbook, but many. Recently, I have found myself flipping through old regional Italian recipes.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Yes, of course. I love to go out with my family and enjoy a long, peaceful Sunday lunch.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “Fulvio Pierangelini. He doesn’t talk much, but when he does he is a philosopher.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Chef’s Table.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Nothing. I prefer to travel light.”
Massimiliano Alajmo is the chef at Sesamo in the Royal Mansour in Marrakech. When he was 28, he received three Michelin stars for his cooking at his family’s restaurant Le Calandre in Italy.
Interview has been condensed and edited.