THERE’S a saying that warns: “There is always hardship behind success.” That phrase characterises the life of Saren Piseth, the eldest of five siblings from a poor family.
He quit his studies and came to Phnom Penh in 2000, struggling to make a new life for himself and send money back to his family in Prey Veng province.
With talent and hard work, Saren Piseth has become a pastry sous-chef supplying seven restaurants in the Naga World Hotel with delic-ious, fresh cakes.
Now 27, he has worked as a pastry chef for three years and offers some advice to all LIFT readers: “Determination and talent are so important. When we love something, we have to take advantage of all the chances given to us, and not give up the natural talent we have.”
Before gaining a job at the Naga World Hotel, Saren Piseth was a barman at Topaz restaurant, where he poured drinks and entertained customers.
“Being a barman isn’t a permanent job; only young men can do it. When I got older, I had to give it up,” he says.
As he had received three months’ training in cooking from the Friends Organisation, he asked his manager if he could become a chef instead of a barman. His manager agreed, and the rest is history.
In 2008, after a successful tenure at Topaz, Saren Piseth applied for a job opening at Naga World.
By working hard and taking training courses, Saren Piseth was promoted to pastry sous-chef, a challenging job that entails managing a number of staff and making a variety of cakes in different styles.
Saren Piseth told LIFT that, in his opinion, a good cake chef paid attention to three things: cake body, taste and comfort.
The body of the cake must be well decorated and, for a top taste, all the ingredients used must be fresh and authentic. “If a customers orders a strawberry cake, I’ll use strawberries to make it,” he says.
Finally, a good chef makes sure his customers are comfortable and ready to dig in.
“I have never had any negative comments from customers. They always enjoy the cakes I make,” Saren Piseth says. “I have to put love into every cake I make. Even though I’m making it for the customers, I have to consider it mine.”
He also always considers who he’s making the cake for, and what sort of decorations he should use. “A good cake has only edible dec-orations,” he emphasises.
Saren Piseth has sky-high ambit-ions. He plans to open his own shop, or work abroad if he can. “I love my job because I love art, which is always necessary when decorating a cake,” he says.