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Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted exclusive: Payback from Moroccan Chef Najat Kaanache interview, bonus recipe, and Ramsay put to the test

Najat Kaanache applied seven times to work for chef Ramsay and was never even responded to. Pic credit: NGC
Najat Kaanache applied seven times to work for chef Ramsay and was never even responded to. Pic credit: NGC

Gordon Ramsay is usually the one who has a chef in the cross-hairs. On Sunday’s Uncharted, his past came back to haunt him.

Namely, Najat Kaanache, a world-famous Moroccan Chef that Gordon previously did not hire at one of his restaurants.

On the upcoming episode, the intrepid British chef heads to Morocco and explores indigenous ingredients. These include morel mushrooms, camel meat, and fresh heart of palm that local Berber villagers have foraged for many years.

Arabs, Spanish Ottomans, and the French have all left their mark on the cuisine.

In the exclusive sneak peek of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted posted below, Najat introduces us to a classic Moroccan tea service where the performance of it is as important as the tea itself.

Smiling like the cat who ate the canary, Najat says: “I’m going to invite you to service two beautiful, magical glasses of tea, how about that?”

When he asks if she wants a glass, she asks for a glass “poured by you from all the way up. Come on. You can do it!”

He does the task to her liking. “You are a powerful chef, aren’t you?” he says.  He added later: “I can’t believe I didn’t hire Najat.”

We can’t either, as she possesses the confidence one would need to work for this not-so-subtle force of nature.

This outspoken chef is slightly shamed by Kaanache who applied to work for him seven times. He never replied.

Why is this exclusive clip so important?

It shows how a person can be served a slice of humble pie when coming face-to-face with someone they should have hired, but for whatever reasons, chose not to.

The entire episode plays like a mini revenge saga. Gordon gets the superhuman assignments and faces the painful truth that Najat was the “one that got away.”

Now he is the student at her mercy.

Najat is solidly on her home turf and can exact some revenge.

Obeying her orders, Gordon must rappel down a dangerous cliff in rushing water to get one ingredient. The fun doesn’t stop there.

The challenge is on. Ramsay has to make a proper Berber New Year’s feast with indigenous ingredients to the locals liking. It also has the twist where he is up against local favorite, Chef Najat herself in a Berber New Year’s Eve feast cookoff.

Where does Gordon Ramsay go in the series?

On Uncharted, Gordon traveled to Laos, New Zealand, Peru, Alaska, Morocco, and Hawaii. He traversed dense jungles, climbed trees, and as you see on our clip below, rappeled down waterfalls all in a bid to find the elusive ingredients prized by locals.

He uncovers international flavors and gastronomic traditions few have seen, including their preparation methods as well.

One of the Herculean tasks Chef Najat assigns Gordon is to rappel a cliff to meet his mushroom foraging guides. This task is secretive, and he is shocked, to say the least. For this one prized ingredient, he must suit up and drop down the cliff’s rushing watery edge.

He jokes to the man getting him geared up: “I am Gordon James, not James Bond! All this for a mushroom, it better be delicious.”

Meet Najat Kaanache – Moroccan Chef

The chef who the Wall Street Journal hails in this article is also a TV star in Europe.

Najat is the host of Cocina Marroqui, airing on Canal Cocina and El Gourmet in 20 countries in Europe and the Americas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=g4Fo-VJ_IPY

Najat is also an entrepreneur chef like Ramsay and has a world-renown restaurant called Nur. Her restaurant is found in the Medina of Fez and serves daily fresh market seafood and local produce.

Nur is Chef Najat Kaanache’s tribute “to the proud cultural and agricultural diversity of Morocco.”

According to her bio, Najat refers to Morocco as “the mouth of Europe,” thanks to the confluence of colonial cultures mixed with Berber and African and Arab cuisine.

She’s a natural, and we hope to see her energetic magic on American television too.

Najat Kaanache – Moroccan Chef – our exclusive interview

Monsters & Critics: How did Gordon come to find you finally for this segment of Uncharted?

Chef Najat Kaanache: It was destiny we don’t control those things, it just happened, and I actually loved the opportunity.

M&C: Speaking of mushrooms, can we share one of your recipes? Or a recipe for something Moroccan the average reader might be able to make at home, based on the meals we saw in this episode?

Chef Najat Kaanache: I can give you the recipe for a delicious soup that is perfect for this hot weather.

Gazpacho Morel:

For the Gazpacho:
1 cup white onion chopped
¼ cup red pepper chopped
½ cucumber for freshness
2 small jalapeno
3 cups of tomato chopped
10 cups of frozen watermelon chopped
¼ cup of cilantro finely chopped
½ cup of apple vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ liter sparkling water

Directions
Add all the ingredients to the mixer, except for the sparkling water, and turn it on until you have a rich gazpacho.
Add the sparkling water and mix by hand, this way you will keep the bubblitiousness.

For the Morels: Morocco has some of the best morels and they are super incredibly easy to make on a frying pan.
When you saute the morels on a pan they become brownish and are delicious, they are little pieces of flavor in your mouth.

Ingredients
2 small shallots
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tbs Olive oil
150 g of morels mushroom
1 tbs soja sauce
3 tbs lemon juice
60 ml of water
1 tbs parsley
1 tbs of sage
1 tbs of chives
Kosher salt & white pepper to taste

Directions
1- Mince the shallots and garlic cloves. Set them aside.
2- Heat the oil in a pan, add the mushrooms and still occasionally, until they become brown around 5 min.
3- Low the heat, add the garlic and shallot, keep stirring. This is my favorite part of making this recipe because of the fragrance that will fill the kitchen when you add the garlic, it is the essence of Morocco.
4- Add the soy, lemon juice, water. Continue cooking by moving the pan, without stirring, just move it right and left. The juices and the morels are standing strong, ready to be eaten.
5- Put the parsley, sage and minced chives on top of the morels and let them cool down.
6- Pour the cold gazpacho on a plate, put the morels around it and have them as a summer cold soup.

M&C: How did you become a pro chef?

Chef Najat Kaanache: I wanted to make magic, and then I found food. I discovered that cooking was a form of art that helped me liberate myself and be able to get to the soul of people. I love every second of it regardless of the hours, long days, hard times, it does not matter the sacrifices. They are completely worth it.

M&C: What is your favorite dish in traditional Moroccan/Berber cuisine?

Chef Najat Kaanache: My favorite dish is Rfissa. I chose it because it has handmade carbs, it is the softest bread. Lentils, vegetables, onion, broth, chicken. It is all in one. And you eat it with your fingers, so you are in touch with the food.

M&C: Would you work for Gordon after all of this? If not, why? How much fun was it to send him on such a physical adventure to get those morel and trumpet mushrooms?

Chef Najat Kaanache:  He always knew how to bring Mediterranean cuisine to the next level, and I was always curious on how he did it. After spending time with him in Morocco with National Geographic, I realized that I wasn’t wrong when I was doing the applications. It would’ve been great to work in his kitchen, because of his power, fastness, reassurance, security on the ground, on cooking and moving around others.

To have the opportunity of showing someone with that amount of knowledge the power of mushrooms in this continent, it was not just fun; it went beyond.

I was extremely happy because I knew he would be amazed at how it would be possible that in the middle of nowhere, the country that people know their cuisine just to be couscous and tagine, has morels, trumpets, truffles, and more.

When I showed him the baskets full of mushrooms, he was just looking at me like “what the hell is this?” And it was important for me to see his reaction and get this appreciation.

He is super friendly, and you get to experience a human being with a lot behind him.

But my life has taken me on a different path. I work very hard and keep on working very hard to have the capability to be independent and express my culture.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted airs Sunday at 10/9c on National Geographic Channel.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
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