We're big fans of Seattle-based Villa Jerada's line of culinary goods, both for their design aesthetic and amazing flavor profiles. Mehdi Boujrada, owner and founder of Villa Jerada, grew up in Casablanca, Morocco. He started his company because he wanted to share a piece of his culture with his friends and community in the US.
If you take a moment to visit Villa Jerada's website, you (if you're anything like me) will be swept away by the line of beautiful products, insanely gorgeous recipe section, and fantasies of inviting your friends over for a Moroccan inspired dinner party.
I loved this story from Mehdi, about the tuna sandwich he ate constantly, growing up in Casablanca. Here's what he has to say about it:
After soccer and surfing. At the market. As a celebratory meal after scoring a new pair of Jordans. Known as Thon Ohror, it’s tuna mixed with mayo and harissa, then spread on a baguette with hard-boiled eggs, olives, sliced tomatoes, red onion, potatoes, cornichons, and parsley. Those who know it live for it. A bite brings a smile to their face, a reminder of warm, sunny Moroccan days. I love watching people try it for the first time—the textures, the flavors, the history—especially the warm heat of harissa, Morocco’s signature condiment.
Those experiences are exactly what I want to capture with Villa Jerada: a nod to the past with our feet firmly in the present.
Recipe for the famous Harissa Tuna Sandwich
Last but not least, before we get to the interview with Mehdi, I wanted to share this quote. As a fellow foodie, I am going to go out on a limb and say this is a major compliment! And we especially love this quote because we stock the Harissa (and yes - it's GOOD).
Villa Jerada’s Harissa No. 1 is our favorite version of this North African red pepper paste for its bright, complex flavor. While many store-bought varieties have a one-dimensional spicy flavor, this Harissa layers acidity and fruitiness with preserved lemons, a touch
— Christopher Kimball's Milk Street
Now...on to the interview with Mehdi Boujrada!
How did you get started? What were your first steps and how did it evolve from there?
It all started with the idea of wanting to share a piece of my culture with the great community that hosted me when I came to the US.
How did you come up with your name?
I grew up by the beach in Casablanca in a villa corridor. Our last name is Boujrada and we came up with the name of our house; Villa Jerada
Tell us about your workspace!
We have a warehouse in Tukwila. It's a warehouse, packing and office space. But our best workspace is being on the road and meeting chefs and foodies all around.
What makes your product special or different?
It's glocal: globally sourced ingredients (Morocco) proudly transformed in the US WA.
Do you have a favorite review or comment about your products?
Our favorite and proudest is when Moroccan moms and aunties tell us this taste like what we would make at home.
What’s your personal favorite product you sell?
All of them. Each has a story and a particular asset. But for the sake of choosing I would say our harissa. It represents the specifics of Moroccan flavors.
Are there any great local artisans or small businesses that you’re into right now?
We love circular economy. Of course, we are always attentive to the local scene where we operate and we start by supporting our restaurant community. We do strongly feel that we are an integral part of it. But overall we support everything made in the US.
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
That's a hard one:-) I truly believe that Seattle chefs do a great job at representing the specificity of the PNW while embracing and evolving global flavors. It's a great harmony.
You live and work in Seattle: do you have any favorite place to enjoy the beauty of your area?
West Seattle. I love Lincoln Park for the diversity of the park; forest, ocean and views.
What's your favorite thing about Washington?
The kindness and generosity of the people towards new comers like myself. And of course the diversity of the landscape!
Thank you, Mehdi, for taking the time to chat with us! We are big fans of what you're doing and wish you so much success!
More Behind the Brand
If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our other artisan profiles!