Analiese Gregory isn't one to shy away from a challenge. After stepping away from running the Quay kitchen in Sydney under Peter Gilmore, the talented young chef spent a large chunk of last year in Laguiole, cooking at revered three-star restaurant Bras. But while the word on the street is that she plans to come back to Australia to open a restaurant of her own, it seems her time in the wilds of the Aubrac has given her a taste for adventure, landing her this month in Morocco, where she'll run a pop-up.
"I received an offer to do a pop-up/chef residency in Fes for two months," she says. "Naturally, being a completely impractical, impulsive person, I jumped at the chance."
The pop-up will run from Numero 7, a 38-seater in the middle of the Fes medina, until the end of October.
The set dinner menu will be well and truly market-driven. "There are no wholesalers and no one delivers over here," Gregory says, "and I have to learn Arabic to communicate with the suppliers." The menu will change daily and Gregory has already been playing with the likes of sardines with lemon verbena, cucumber and preserved lemon, roasted pigeon with amlou (the Moroccan sauce of almond and argan oil), barley and purslane, and fig-leaf custard with fresh figs and milk and honey granita.
"The market is amazing," she says. "Choice is limited but it's a chef's dream in terms of learning about and using products that aren't available in Australia or Europe. I just went and bought fresh absinthe from the herb guy; there's a honey souk where they go out and gather from the wild 40 different types of honey. I can buy a camel leg for about five dollars, and when I asked where to get pigeon they led me to a large birdcage filled with living pigeons.
"It's hyper-seasonal, so menu planning is almost a write-off," she says, "One day there will be figs, the next prickly pears, the next plums. I generally have to buy whole animals from the butchers. Rubbish gets taken away by donkey. Everything is beautiful and overwhelming at the same time."
Analiese Gregory's residency at Numero 7 runs until 30 October, 7 Zkak Rouan, 30200 Fes Medina, Morocco. Reservations can be made by phone at +212 (0) 535 638924, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org,and walk-ins are also welcome.