This early morning, a group of 15 exited ACAC students crossed the Mekong River to reach Chef Nak’s green oasis, located just outside the buzzling city of Phnom Penh, a beautiful antique wooden house surrounded by a lush vegetable garden.
Ros Rotanak, well known as Chef Nak, is a popular Cambodian celebrity chef and cookbook author, with the mission to preserve and evolve the traditional local cuisine and bring it to the global stage. Today, she invited a group of ACAC students to visit her Private Home Dining and to dedicate time exploring the art of their homeland’s cuisine and tradition.
After a warm welcome, she toured the students through the gardens, explaining the different local plants used as ingredients for Khmer dishes, showed them the culinary arts center and involved them in a cooking demonstration applying traditional food preparation techniques.
Chef Nak was proud to share and pass on her knowledge to the students:
“I have always been a food lover and I strongly believe that Khmer cuisine deserves a place on the global stage. Many of the recipes have been forgotten, but it is such an important aspect of our culture, and I’m passionate about bringing them back, preserving and celebrating them.
I’m very happy to have this group of young talents and future chefs from the ACAC here today, and I’m proud to take them on a journey and share my knowledge with them”.
Excursions like this are a value-adding experience to the Academy’s curriculum. They allow students to interact with what they already learned at school and at the same time access an environment that is different from the usual four walls of the campus.
Chef Bruno elaborated:
“Field trips are an important component of the ACAC’s study program. They enrich the overall learning experience and broaden the knowledge acquired during the academic lessons. And today especially, they also have the opportunity to discover more about their own culture and cuisine’s secrets”.
During the trip, Student Choeun Socheat said:
“It’s so good to be here today and learn more about traditional cooking methods and recipes from my motherland. My past semester has been such a great learning experience and this field trip perfectly rounds it up before moving ahead with my internship”.
The students received a deeper insight into the secrets of Khmer cuisine, a term that refers to more than a thousand years old culinary tradition of Khmer people and can be classified into peasant, elite and royal cuisine.
Developing a deeper understanding of Cambodian cuisine is especially important to Student Oeng Kimheak:
“Today has been just a fantastic day for me. I like to learn about all kinds of cuisines, but it is my particular goal to not only become a great future chef but also to bring fame to the Khmer cuisine globally and have an impact on the Cambodian Tourism Industry”.