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Cooking up a storm

Another major culinary breakthrough in Siem Reap is also a big plus for the resurgence of contemporary Khmer cuisine and for local NGO, the Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School.

The school’s master chef of culinary arts, Prom Mear Yeat, has been selected to represent Cambodia at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Asia Qualifying Round, which takes place in Shanghai from March 17 to 20.

Prom Mear Yeat’s assistant in Shanghai will be Dubrule culinary student Sam Sophorn.

Twelve chefs from 12 Asian countries will compete, and the best four will qualify for the Bocuse d’Or 2011 in Lyon, France.

The top three candidates at Shanghai will also take home big bucks: The winner gets 10,000 euro (US$13,600); the runner up 7500 euro ($10,150); and the third place getter 5000 euro ($6,760).

The Bocuse d’Or, the brainchild of celebrated chef Paul Bocuse, was established in France in 1987 and was the first professional culinary competition to take place in front of a live audience.

Having established itself over two decades as the world’s pre-eminent chef championship, the Bocuse d’Or launched regional competitions for Europe and Asia in 2008.

This year marks the debut appearance of a Cambodian entrant.

The school’s director, Gerald Hougardy, is a hospitality industry veteran and former CEO of Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square. He signed on at the Paul Dubrule School last September and is over the moon about the opportunity.

He told 7Days he was approached by the Bocuse d’Or committee when he first arrived last year, and didn’t hesitate.

He immediately consulted with Joannes Riviere, the executive chef at Hotel de la Paix and Cambodia’s Bocuse d’Or president, about who would be the most suitable candidate.

Hougardy said, “I feel that people here do not pay enough attention to this competition – it’s a great opportunity to promote the country.

“I’m very proud that it is one of our chefs being represented in a major culinary event like this, and my dream is that he will go through to the finals in Lyon.”

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