A simple girl from Wisconsin with a nomadic soul, a love of family and a passion for food.
Amanda Mouttaki has built two wildly successful businesses around her love and appreciation of culinary adventures. They have led her to Marrakech, the food-soul of Morocco, along with her husband and three sons. Her feet are now firmly planted in Marrakech. Amanda is single-handedly the ‘go-to’ when it comes to all things Moroccan travel, culture and gastronomy.
At Mushmina we feel empowered by supporting and encouraging other female entrepreneurs. We wanted to find out more about the bold woman behind these two small businesses. How did she create her businesses ‘from scratch’ and build them to their enormous social media success today?
You could say that this dream started 19 years ago when a young American woman with a globally nomadic spirit from the Midwest ran into an equally youthful Moroccan man on the mystical streets of Marrakech. They immediately fell in love. The rest was like a lovely cup of minty Moroccan tea-sweet and uniquely perfect.
Fast forward a few years and Amanda and Youssef were now living in the US; finishing up their studies, struggling as many new couples do to make ends meet.
Amanda had never intended her little idea to take off into a prosperous business, let alone two booming companies. Her original intention behind creating a website of Moroccan food tips and recipes evolved after curious family members continually asked her for food suggestions and dish ideas.
The future Moroccan food + travel maven started blogging around the same time but back then, it was just as so many other informal bloggers do-a savvy mother simply writing about deftly raising her children, food creativity, lifestyle tips, and rearing kids bi-culturally.
Quickly, Amanda realized that more and more, people were using her public forums in a good way. Her audience was becoming vast-those who had never been abroad but always dreamed of that exotic vacation and the ever-astute traveler who was interested in improving the authenticity and creativity of Moroccan fare.
Even more so, she saw that her posts were getting more traction, the more she wrote about Morocco. By now, she had become an expert on everything and anything Moroccan. MarocMama, her intrepid and playful website, was born. As Amanda puts it, ‘We saw the traffic on my sites ticking up and we realized at that moment that I had made something special.’
By 2013, the Mouttaki family decided to take the plunge-they would move to Morocco and try to live the dream of sharing their Moroccan adventure with the world.
It was then, only natural, that Amanda’s audience started asking for her recommendations for the best places to eat in Marrakech. Instinctively, Amanda and Youssef had a vision-they wanted to share the most authentic places for tourists and visitors to eat in enigmatic Marrakech. Amanda explains, ‘Marrakech is a mecca of divine cuisine. However, often groups and just shuffled back and forth from the main tourist square, which is not where one can find the best Moroccan dishes. The most interesting, genuine food can be found in the little backstreet and tiny alleyways.’
On a whim, the pair decided to invest just $50 into a domain name and website-‘Marrakech Food Tours’. They spent one Friday setting up a simple site and then the couple went away for the weekend, thinking that they would focus on advertising upon their return. Lo and behold, when they got home, they were astonished to see that they already had four bookings. Amanda chuckles and explains to me, ‘We thought it was my Mom, playing a joke on us! But it wasn’t. And that was that. Our business took off from there.’
She goes on to talk about their devotion to the company-‘We want our guests to see the extraordinary side of Marrakech. The behind the scenes-fascinating Moroccan flat bread hearths and enchanting tagine ovens. She adds, ‘We also mix quirky, authentic storytelling in with our tours-the history behind the dishes, personal testimonials from our guides. This creates an expedition that is whimsically unparalleled and family-friendly each time. There is nothing like it around.’
Speaking of family, it is Amanda’s driving force. Luckily for her, Morocco is a country where much of the traditions are based around kin. However, as self-proclaimed workaholic, it is difficult to find that work-life-home balance. She continually asks herself, ‘Am I doing enough for my children?’ I reassure her that it is a struggle, I strongly believe, that every mother feels. Particularly when you are running two thriving companies as a female entrepreneur.
Amanda graciously clarifies, ‘Moroccans have many layers. They are lovely, wonderfully warm people, but it is sometimes very challenging for men here to understand that I am the boss. It has taken me years to develop this peer-relationship with certain people but once I established this trust, it works. It’s something that makes me incredibly proud.’
Speaking of which, I ask Amanda what inspires her and she ponders, ‘ Food!’ And then we both laugh. But then she continues thoughtfully, ‘Food is how I experience the world, connect with people, understand humanity.’
Lastly, I had to ask Amanda-what would be your last meal if you were held at fork-point? I had to chuckle at her answer. ‘Stuffed cheese ravioli’s with a great marinara, grilled corn on the cob, and of course, a huge slice of chocolate cake. At heart, I’m a Mid-Western girl.’ Because, of course. Simplicity equals perfection.
By Tara Fraiture, Mushmina Blogger
Coming to Morocco? Book a food tour with Amanda at Marrakech Food Tours.
Also be sure to check out MarocMama for all your trip planning.