From Food Blogging to Contributing to Renowned Food Guide Gault & Millau: Meet Margot Amzallag
Few cities on Earth rival Parisian culinary tradition, a lineage that has set the standard for food innovation for over three centuries. Since 2016, development chef and food consultant Margot Amzallag has taken Paris by storm, introducing fresh concepts to the French capital that have garnered local acclaim and international praise.
Born in the French food-mecca, Margot Amazallag was exposed to a wide variety of cultural and culinary influences from a young age. Her father, a Moroccan immigrant, brought the flavors of his country to the family kitchen, while her mother, a native of Madagascar, happened to be a professional cook with her own catering business.
Paris? Check. Foodie family? Check. We all know where this story is going.
Or maybe not.
Although the ingredients for a future in the culinary world were at her disposal, Amazallag wasn’t committing to a career in food just yet.
“I always felt like I had a special connection to all things food,” says Margot Amzallag, “but I had no idea I would end up working in this industry.”
Though food had been a constant influence throughout her early life, it wasn’t obvious to Margot Amzallag that a culinary career would be her destiny. But, while pursuing her degree in Business Law at La Sorbonne University, that special connection began to express itself, spurring Amzallag to create the food/travel blog Globeuses. Though unbeknownst to her at the time, it would prove to be the launchpad for many aspects of her future profession.
Globeuses was the perfect platform for Margot Amzallag to marry her interests of food and travel, gaining inspiration and sharing it with others. While digging into countless local eateries across the globe, Amzallag was able to elevate her understanding of ingredients and menu planning. What worked and what didn’t? And most importantly, why?
“When developing a new menu, it needs to make sense,” Amzallag says. “Each detail needs to complement the others so that the big picture is coherent. It needs to tell a story.”
The curation of the Globeuses also gave her the opportunity to grow a brand from scratch and develop her budding marketing skills. Through her dedication and creativity, Amzallag was able to grow Globeuses from 0 to 25,000 followers in under six months. French media took notice, with reputable publications, such as top Parisian food guide Le Fooding, often reposting her pictures and stories.
A fated trip to Hawaii introduced Amzallag to the Polynesian fare of poké, a traditional Hawaiian dish of diced raw fish, seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, sesame and seaweed. Though it was love at first bite, Amzallag couldn’t possibly foresee the impact that bowl of goodness would have on her future.
Upon completing her studies in Paris, Amzallag journeyed to Southern California to continue her education. At this time, the poké trend was beginning to explode along the California coast, often served over a bowl of rice with accompaniments such as vegetables, seaweed and a variety of toppings. Seeing poké trending on the West Coast sparked Amzallag’s entrepreneurial instinct — if it worked in California, could it work in Paris?
“My goal was to bring something fresh to the people of Paris. When I discovered poké bowls I fell in love with the concept. It’s fresh, it’s healthy, it’s exotic and, most importantly, it was new,” recalls Amzallag.
Given the Parisian love of culinary fusion, Amzallag felt that she was on the verge of something special. In early 2016, at just 23 years old, she opened the doors of Ono Poké, the first poké establishment in the French capital. Her organic marketing experience gained from Globeuses gave her the tools to use Instagram and social media platforms to their fullest capabilities, as she worked tirelessly to promote her new business, optimistically reaching out to her heros in the French food industry.
“When I started Ono Poké, I didn’t have any money for marketing,” tells Amzallag, “so I started an Instagram account and began posting about Ono Poké. I would tag my favorite food influencers and journalists hoping they would see my posts.”
It didn’t take long for Amzallag’s diligence to pay off. She could hardly believe it when “Tres Tres Bon,” one of the most acclaimed programs in French food television, messaged her directly with an invitation to the show. It was a huge step for Amzallag, and for Ono Poké, as she was able to broadcast her innovative menu ideas to millions.
Amzallag’s appearance on “Tres Tres Bon” not only put her on the radar of her peers in the French food industry, it also put Ono Poké on the map for must-try restaurants in Paris. Amzallag’s instincts were vindicated, and now the whole country knew where to find her.
Amzallag reminisces, ”When I first opened Ono Poké, my clientele were mostly from the local neighborhood, but after ‘Tres Tres Bon’ aired, I had people coming from all over the country, it was crazy!”
And it didn’t stop there. Ono Poké’s spot on “Tres Tres Bon” caught the eye of the world-revered food guide Gault & Millau, proponents of nouvelle cuisine since 1965. When a restaurant makes the Gault & Millau guide, it’s doing something right. And Ono Poké didn’t just make the list, it was included as one of Gault & Millau’s Top Favorites of 2017, taking the burgeoning restaurant, and it’s blossoming owner, to a new level of exposure and achievement.
Not only did Gault & Millau give Ono Poké instant credibility in the European food scene, it also gave Amzallag a vote of confidence that inspired her to keep going.
“Being involved with Gault and Millau made me feel like I was a part of this amazing culinary community,” Amzallog says. “It truly gave me a lot of strength and confidence to continue evolving as a development chef.”
People quickly came to realize that Ono Poké was more than a novelty cashing in on a fresh concept. Margot Amzallag was not only kickstarting a new trend in Paris, but redefining what poké can be. Her insights into flavor and combination of unique and fresh ingredients, as reflected by her inventive menu, showed her raw talent as a development chef.
While honoring tradition by keeping raw fish as a menu staple, Margot Amzallag’s travels and ingenuity have uniquely shaped Ono Poke’s offering, including dried beef, inspired by a meal on the island of Maui, and her much-lauded duck confit, a fusion that perhaps only a lady of Paris could envision.
It’s her bold innovation and tireless effort that has seen Margot Amzallag rise from a blogger with a vision to a nationally recognized development chef in a relatively short amount of time, according to collaborator and former Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Director of Events and Marketing Gigi de Pourtales.
“Margot always has dynamic ideas,” says de Pourtales. “Her taste and knowledge of the industry make her an incredible development chef and food consultant.”
Margot Amzallag’s catering company, Grenata, is a celebration of those dynamic ideas. Catering to major entertainment industry clients such as Netflix and Warner Bros., Amzallag is constantly refining her menus and developing new dishes. Her tireless creativity and attention to detail keeps her prestigious clientele coming back for more, and it’s their positive feedback that is Amzallag’s biggest motivation.
“The highlight is always the positive client feedback,” states Amzallag. “It reminds me why I work so hard and why I am doing this job. It’s not even a job, it’s a passion.”
Once an inspired food blogger sharing exotic eats with friends back home, Margot Amzallag now has a restaurant of her own that is recommended in one of the world’s premiere food guides. Having already accomplished so much, the sky’s the limit for Amzallag. One thing is certain — the world is hungry for what comes next.