With pumpkin and taro for elephants, broccoli for trees and carrots and yam for giraffes, Sun Menghoth had less than three hours to create a zoo. After successfully carving a fruit and vegetable diorama, the 28-year-old commis chef from NagaWorld was awarded a bronze medal.
From the finest fruit-carvers to the swiftest of bed-sheet changers, a wide array of hospitality professionals came together at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra yesterday and Saturday to compete at the fourth annual Cambodia Restaurant Association (CRA) Competitions.
Around 120 hospitality workers took part in nine competitions. They included baristas, bartenders, cake decorators, wine stewards, servers and chefs. First prize winners, who included representatives from Hotel Cambodiana and French restaurant Topaz, received $300. Contestants in second and third places won $200 and $100 respectively.
Van Porleng, CRA president and owner of Van’s Restaurant, said: “It’s very important to have the competition because it really enhances people’s motivation to do their best to raise the standard of service and quality of the hospitality industry in Cambodia”, said Porleng.
New to this year’s event was the wine steward competition, which judged contestants knowledge of wine and their ability to properly serve a glass. Hak Seyha, Topaz restaurant’s 27 year-old wine steward, said that the competition was child’s play. “The general knowledge about the wine was too easy, and the competition has no blind tasting or anything,” said Sehya, who competed in an international competition in Singapore in August.
At the chef’s table, Rambutan Resort’s Meng Ly, 23, explained that his crab dip was a family recipe from Siem Reap. Hotel Cambodiana’s Heng Sothear took the top prize.
Success at the CRA Competitions has previously elevated contestants to the international stage. Last month, three winners of the 2012 CRA Competitions flew to Kuala Lumpur to compete in the Culinary 2013 Malaysia competition, where Nuon Phonet of K West Restaurant won a silver medal for her bartending skills.