COMMUNAL COOKING: Moroccan born Alex Kamaoui has a new recipe for his restaurant.
COMMUNAL COOKING: Moroccan born Alex Kamaoui has a new recipe for his restaurant.

Exotic cooking lessons lead to tasty tangine eating

A TRIP to Morocco 18 months ago with seven mates has turned into a brand-new vision for Kingscliff café owner Alex Kamaoui.

Alex, owner of the much-loved Zanzibar Restaurant, came back from his trip with an idea to hold tangine cooking lessons after enjoying many communal meals back in his country of origin.

Since then the 60-year-old has been busy importing bowls, platters and tangines from Morocco until his restaurant resembles something of an Aladdin's café. And now he hopes to start the cooking lessons later this month - continuing on each Tuesday night until the end of the year.

"I've been running Zanzibar for 20 years this year so we are doing something different - we are introducing Moroccan cooking lessons - or a party," he explained.

"Every Tuesday we will have six people or six couples cooking and they'll invite family or friends. We will start at 4pm, getting the meals ready and then we can all share the meals. It will be 24 people sharing all the food we cook.

"I always had the idea of cooking in the tangine - in Morocco we always cook for everyone. Those tangines, in the medium size, will cook for four or five people."

"We will have one chicken, one meat, one veggo and they'll be cooking it - learning to use it, as soon as you learn your will always use it!

"All the tangines and bowls are from Morocco - hand-made - they are still making them."

Alex, who was born in Marrekesh, said he was inspired to start the classes after taking a group of Tweed Coast-based friends - all regular customers who are now good mates - with him.

"It's really something different (the lessons)," he said.

"A lot of people go to Morocco and taste tangines. As soon as I got back from my trip with my friends, they all wanted to make tangines - they probably all make them once a week now."

He is now busy making tiled tables and redecorating the café in preparation for the lessons and looking forward to sharing his original culture with the people of Kingscliff. But make no mistake, the sports-mad Alex, who can often be found riding his bike and was a long-term member of the local soccer club, is well and truly a Tweed Coaster now. He arrived in Sydney 34 years ago from Europe to continue his university studies in chemistry and sciences.

"I had been studying in France and I came out to Sydney - I didn't really like it at first and I went back and forward for a few years," he said. However, meeting his wife Leanne and then coming to visit her brother on the Tweed had him hooked on the place and on following his long-held passion for food and cooking.

"My mother wouldn't let me cook when I was a kid but I used to watch," he laughed.

Alex said he was about to create a website to promote the lessons - though you can drop in and talk to him at Zanzibar until then.

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