Designed as a ‘medina within a medina’ by King Mohammed VI, Royal Mansour is as opulent as hotels come. Private riads, fragrant gardens and a spa exhibiting breath-taking birdcage-inspired design have made this one of the Morocco’s most coveted hotels. Now, as it reaches its 10th year, the hotel is adding to its overwhelming appeal with the arrival of a culinary star. As 2019 came to a close, the hotel debuted its brand new restaurant, Sesamo, led by three-Michelin-starred chef Massimiliano Alajmo.

For the Alajmo group, Sesamo follows on from celebrated restaurants including Quadri on Piazza San Marco, Venice, and Le Calandre (currently no.31 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list) in nearby Padua. For Royal Mansour, this restaurant then joins an already impressive culinary line-up overseen by the also three-Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno.

Sesamo excels in both culinary mastery and design. Staying true to the Alajmo philosophy, the new gastronomic hotspot celebrates hand-made artisanal products, from the craftsmanship poured into the interiors to the ingredients that are cultivated by local producers. Today In: Lifestyle

The chef is now striving to replicate the dedication to local artisanal ingredients seen at Alajmo restaurants in Italy, here in the kitchen at Royal Mansour. To achieve this, Massimiliano is working with the nearby producer Domaines Agricoles to make just the right olive oil and the kitchen has started cultivating Italian varieties of fruit and vegetables, in Royal Mansour’s chef’s garden, with an Italian agronomist who travels to Marrakech each month. On top of this, the process has begun to start making exclusive-to-Sesamo mozzarella.

These artisanal ingredients are then used in classic Alajmo plates like fried langoustine involtini in a lettuce sauce and crispy saffron risotto, alongside new creations like the sesame, almond and saffron dessert named ‘Open Sesame, Apriti Sesamo’.

“Some of my dishes are easily identifiable as Italian,” Massimilano says as he explains Sesamo’s creative menus. “Others are signature Alajmo dishes, such as the classic cuttlefish cappuccino made with potato puree and cuttlefish in its ink. At Sesamo, this is topped with blue spirulina as an homage to the gardens of Majorelle.”

The founders of 3BIS agency, Fabrice Bourg and Nicolas Papamiltiadès, designed the interiors of this restaurant and bar space, combining Venetian influence with the Moroccan opulence seen throughout the hotel.

Marble and onyx marquetry on the ceilings and floors create a backdrop for floor-length theatrical Bevilacqua-made drapes in maroon and gold, a glimmering Murano chandelier hanging above the gold-flecked bar and the Barovier & Toso chandelier of the dining room. Wall hangings in blue, green and grey reflect the colors of Venice’s Grand Canal in the artist Turner’s paintings.

Massimiliano says it was Royal Mansour’s shared philosophy for artisanship that drew the Alajmo group to the hotel. “As my brother Raffaele will tell you, we were immediately drawn to the hotel’s attention to detail and their appreciation of local artisans. Now, both the aesthetics of the restaurant and the menu itself are a blend of Venetian and Moroccan culture.”

Adding to this new culinary addition to the hotel, Royal Mansour is extending its already sprawling gardens this spring, opening up a new chef’s garden, lavender, beehives and trees for guests to stroll between.

To extend the gastronomic experience, you can indulge in Royal Mansour’s recently developed traditional Moroccan breakfast of La Table and travel into the stark landscape of Agafay Desert with a guide for an organic lunch at eco-conscious Agafay Desert Luxury Camp where a meal of traditional Moroccan tagines can be combined with exploration of the land.

Lauren Jade Hill

forbes.com

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