The Council of Ministers has nominated Battambang town as a candidate for membership in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the category of gastronomy.

The decision came on June 22 when Prime Minister Hun Sen approved the June 16 request made by the Ministry of Tourism.

Ken Satha, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, announced the nomination in a letter to Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona and Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak.

The tourism minister said on June 27 that this selection was based on an evaluation by an expert team who determined that Battambang town abounded with many kinds of foods and a unique cuisine worthy of sharing on the international stage.

If Battambang town were to become a member of this network, it would give Cambodia the right to use a special logo to promote the area and its gastronomic characteristics within the framework of UNESCO.

Cambodia would be able to boost tourism to the area, especially food-related tourism, which is a new trend globally that shows huge potential for Cambodia, particularly in places like Battambang town, the tourism ministry said.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which are recognised for their creativity as being a major factor in their urban development. Currently, there are 246 cities in the network around the world.

In the ASEAN region, there are four countries with cities that are members of the network currently. They include Thailand with Phuket and Chiang Mai; Indonesia with Bandung and Pekalongan; Singapore; and the Philippines with Baguio City.

Battambang governor Ratanak told The Post on June 27 that including the town as a member of the network would be a cornerstone for highlighting the diverse characteristics of the province.

He said the provincial administration had established a working group to research foods in the province to compile a list of all of the specialities that originated there.

“For example, one kind of food that originates in Battambang province – with the elderly people here creating it – is called Bok Kantouy hash (king spicy food recipe). This is a Khmer cuisine. In addition to that there is Samphos as well.

“We will try to make Battambang town a network for Khmer gastronomy and ensure that there is market activity in terms of the foods the working group selects,” he said.

Ratanak added that when the working group selects foods for Battambang town, the provincial hall would establish specific distribution locations and put recipes on display in the future.

“In deciding how to include Battambang town in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, I would like to have citizen participation. I request that they join the call by local authorities and we will meet with the elderly people in the province to showcase their talents and their knowledge of our food,” he said.

Ratanak called on all residents to help showcase any foods that originate in the province and help the working group to research them and put them on the foods list for submission to UNESCO.