French-trained chef once cooked for king of Morocco
Oxford Treatment Center’s new executive chef is bringing a world of culinary experience to the rural North Mississippi campus.
Moulay Elabdellaoui, originally from Casablanca, Morocco, brings more than 20 years of experience as an executive chef — including as chef to King Hassan II of Morocco.
He trained at the Arts and Culinary Institute of Nice, France, and the College of Culinary Arts in Casablanca, Morocco. He is also experienced in the cuisines of Asia, Russia, Germany and South America.
Elabdellaoui said he is looking forward to incorporating diverse cuisine into the menu at Oxford Treatment Center. At the same time, he said, his goal is creating meals to please.
Especially when you are battling addiction, the last thing you need is to feel like you did not enjoy your meal.
“Everyone here is from different backgrounds, different cities where cuisines vary. I think it is important to make something that everyone can enjoy.”
Since joining Oxford Treatment Center in September, Elabdellaoui has also focused on making the center’s dining room even more warm and welcoming. Flowers and fruit bowls now decorate the space, while the walls feature artwork created in the center’s art-therapy sessions.
“I want to make the dining area a place of peace,” he said. “Walking in and seeing your art on the wall can be encouraging. Especially for people in recovery, having a space that encourages and welcomes them is important.”
Elabdellaoui came to Oxford Treatment Center from Lancer Hospitality in Memphis where he was executive chef for over five years. Prior to that, he was food and beverage director for Harlow’s Casino.
Elabdellaoui said he was drawn to Oxford Treatment Center for the ability to help others.
“People here are going through a lot,” he said. “I wanted to do something where I can help others succeed in life.”
A frequent volunteer chef at homeless shelters, Elabdellaoui said his top priority is serving those around him.
“Right now it is all about helping others for me, and this is a great position to do that,” he said. “It’s really a team effort here — from the landscapers to the psychiatrists. Even those of us who are not on the clinical team get to see the way patients progress after detox. It is very rewarding.”