A Moroccan cookbook: Abdel’s Favourites

Tucked away in Evans Bay, the Marrakech Café has built a strong following among Wellingtonians who know good food. Owner and chef Abdelghani El Adraoui felt the time was right for a cookbook to share his recipes and celebrate the restaurant, and worked with his friend Adrienne Jansen to put together the text. Students on the publishing programme in 2013 helped bring the book to life.

The production process involved testing delicious recipes, food-styling sessions and photo shoots, and afternoons spent with Abdel at the restaurant, learning about his methods and hearing the stories behind his food. Envisaged as a straightforward guide to Moroccan cuisine for the home cook, the book also describes Abdel’s unique journey, drawing on the warmth and hospitality that have made him and his restaurant so popular in the community.

Design and food photography for Abdel’s Favourites

Professional photographer Kate Whitley was set up to take the photographs, so the Whitireia team brought book designer Anna Brown on board to work with Kate to create a consistent look and feel for the book and work within the technical specifications. They arranged photo shoots in the cafe with Anna and Kate sharing the role of food stylist while Abdel cooked.

Photos of sessions:

image of Kate behind the scenes

Kate behind the scenes

Behind the scenes image

Behind the scenes image





Marrakech first roughs

Marrakech first roughs

Meanwhile, the students wrote a design brief outlining the look and feel of the book and its technical specifications. These design roughs show a range of potential treatments for sample text and photographs.







A cover for Abdel’s Favourites

Designer Anna Brown produced a range of cover roughs from the photos already taken. Once the cover direction was confirmed, Kate would reshoot the photograph especially for it.

Marrakech cover option 1

Marrakech cover option

Marrakech cover option 2

Marrakech cover option

Marrakech cover option 3

Marrakech cover option

The team wondered whether Abdel himself should be on the cover, as way of saying ‘Here’s a chef you should know about!’ Students talked to booksellers and took a close look at cookbooks in shops, and decided that focusing on the food would be best. We chose rough #1 – it unmistakably said ‘Morocco’ and the colour band brought warmth.

Abdel's Favourites cover

Abdel’s Favourites cover

The final cover photo was carefully composed. It had space to fit the title type, a contemporary feel with the scrubbed metal bench, and featured those essential tastes of Morocco: lemons, cumin and olives.








Marketing Abdel’s Favourites

The team put a lot of energy into innovative marketing ideas for Abdel’s Favourites. While acknowledging that most sales of this book will be through Abdel’s restaurant and contacts, they still sent information to all the key bookstores around New Zealand, generating orders from local booksellers and cookbook stores.


Abdel's-Favourites-infoThey produced an ‘AI’, or ‘advance information sheet’, and electronic PDF ‘blad’ (‘book layout and design’).










Postcard final both sidesTo let locals know about the book, the students put together a postcard advertising Abdel’s Favourites and featuring one of the recipes, which was given to customers at the café in the weeks leading up to publication.





They set up a Facebook page to let people follow the progress of the book as it took shape.The students also organised a stall at the local market where Abdel sold produce – jars of preserved lemons and harissa – and gave out flyers about the book. They updated the Marrakech Café website, adding a page about the book with ordering information. They set up a media campaign, seeking interviews and features about Abdel, his family and the book in traditional media and around food blogs. And they organised a launch.


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