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French masters set up shop

French masters set up shop

The butcher and baker - minus the candlestick-maker - have arrived in Phnom Penh

to provide the most authentic French food in the country.

Two Frenchmen, Jean-Jacques Fanchtein and Serge Chevalier, have joined forces to

open two separate businesses from the same gleaming white premises at 243, Street

51.

Here - where the two masters operate out of giant shipping containers parked neatly

parallel on the building's forecourt - you literally find yourself sandwiched between

the bread and the meat.

Chevalier arrived in June and Fanchtein in October with an equal desire to provide

the highest quality in the cleanest conditions with the best equipment.

Chevalier spent $200,000 on materials from France and uses locally-milled flour,

working 18 hours a day to produce around 900 loaves. The shift begins at midnight,

with the first batch at 5.30am, the second at 9.30am and the last at 3.30pm.

Some 45 percent of his output goes to the city's leading hotels, restaurants and

shops, such as La Paillotte, Thany Cafe and Lucky Market and his list of clientele

reads like a Phnom Penh's "Who's Who."

He is proud to tell customers that his "croissants are a particular favourite

at the Palace."

Croissants cost 50 cents each and a loaf of bread $1.00.

As soon as the last loaf is pulled from the oven, the butcher- dressed immaculately

in white-pushes in a side of beef. He imports nearly a ton of fresh meat from France

each week -succulent beef, lamb, veal and chicken-although pork is purchased locally.

"The pigs here are sensational because they run around freely and eat fantastic

food," says Fanchtein who trained in Paris' historic Les Halles market and then

traveled widely from Martinique to Guyana before earning a serious reputation for

his cuts from the dispossessed Cambodian nobility in Paris.

They inspired him to return with them to Cambodia - together with his investment

of $30,000-fearing life without his pâté de chevreuil and rôti

de veau Orloff a bleak prospect.

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