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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Blue Pumpkin chef integrates​Cambodia’s best ingredients

Blue Pumpkin chef integrates​Cambodia’s best ingredients

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Left: Chocolate filled eggs of the type that will be on offer at The Blue Pumpkins.
Right: Blue Pumpkin pastry chef Cyril Guillou holds up an April Fool's puff pastry shaped like a fish.  Photograph: Stuart Alan Becker/Phnom Penh Post

For Blue Pumpkin pastry Chef Cyril Guillou, the fun of the job is going to be using Cambodian ingredients to create new tastes such as mangosteen sorbet and pastries in the shape of cartoon characters for the upcoming outlet at Kids City.

Guillou, whose creations are distributed through all 17 Blue Pumpkin outlets, will be offering Easter brownie eggs for $1 and an April Fool's Day special fish-shapped puff pastry filled with almond cream for $1.75 through to Monday, April 1.

He is one of four people from the Brittany region of France who works for the Blue Pumpkin. People he works with say he looks like Mr Bean. He really enjoys working with Cambodian people because he says they’re eager to learn skills such as being a pastry chef.

“You give to Cambodians and they give you back. They are not just here for the salary, they are here to learn. I love the kindness of the people. Even if they have no money, they are willing to share their meal with you.”

Formerly employed as the pastry chef of NagaWorld, Guillou started out to be a math teacher, but fell in love with an American woman, went with her to Portland, Oregon, and became a pastry chef in the United States.

“I was a French guy discovering pastry in America,” he laughed.

After two years of working first as a waiter and then as a pastry chef, learning on the job, he went back home to France and took training to become a fully qualified baker and pastry chef, mostly around the city of Rennes in the Brittany region of France.

Guillou went to work in 5-star hotels, but it was when he worked at restaurants that he began to see the fun of inventing new things.

“In a restaurant it is different and you have an opportunity to create and bring some innovation.”

He says the dessert is very important in a restaurant because it is how you finish the meal and it is the last taste of the experience.

It was in America as a French guy working as a pastry chef that he started to get the fulfillment of making people happy with what he created.

“I saw the smile and the thank you. It was easy to give them happiness by a small thing. You don’t work for money; you work for the pleasure of giving pleasure to others.”

Guillou travelled around the world as a pastry chef working in London, Switzerland, Dubai, New York and then came to Cambodia to work at NagaWorld for two years. Then, he had a motorcycle accident, returned to France for medical treatment and then took a job in Phuket, Thailand, for nearly a year.

It was then he heard that Blue Pumpkin was hiring and he had already decided that it was among the places he wanted to work.

“The first time I came to Siem Reap I saw the Blue Pumpkin and said this is the only place I would work besides NagaWorld.”

In 2005, Guillou returned to school to become a pastry and bakery teacher. That’s why he’s at the Blue Pumpkin now, to teach others knowledge and techniques.

“I think about what I’m going to do next day, about different kinds of pastry. I want to be working more with local fruit, for ice-cream sorbet, for Danishes, with fruit like mangosteen. I want to make coconut and chocolate things mixed together.”

Blue Pumpkin will soon have an outlet in a new place called Kid City, for which Guillou intends to create special items like lollipops, cartoon figures and “things people can relate to”.

He always wants to use the local sugar cane juice in new special ice-cream sorbet.

For the first of April which is April Fool’s Day, Guillou is making a puff pastry shaped like a fish, and while people may expect it to taste like fish, it is actually filled with almond cream.

Guillou is unique in that he wears a black chef’s suit instead of the traditional white cultinary uniform.

For Easter Sunday, Chef Guillou is preparing coloured eggs filled with the chocolate and brownies to be hidden around the Monument Books location for a group of about 30 children who are coming in with Father Mario Ghezzi from the Catholic church in Boeung Tompun. The children will receive a full Asian style Blue Pumpkin meal in addition to the Easter egg hunt.

According to Chiara De Lucia, Meas Development’s Vice President of Communications, the organisation headed by Alain Dupuis that owns the majority of the Blue Pumpkin franchise, a new Italian restaurant called Terraza will open in April that features authentic Italian food as well as special local Italian wine.

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