Knai Bang Chatt is positioning itself as the place to treat yourself again as Cambodia slowly emerges from the gloom of Covid-19 restrictions, with the luxury resort’s executive chef saying now is the time to “Recharge, Refuel and Refresh”.

Renowned Canadian fine dining chef Jay Scaife has used his observations during the recent period of pandemic-fuelled restrictions to revamp the menu at The Strand – Kep’s high-end restaurant – while the Sailing Club’s new menu is to be launched at Water Festival.

The Strand’s new menu is described as ‘wonderfully selfish’. SUPPLIED

“The Strand menu is designed to be wonderfully selfish – after the last two years, people deserve to be spoiled again. The menu is now a lot more international. Before it was mainly a mix of French and Italian. Now it is refined Khmer, French, Italian, some Japanese – it’s a lot more focused, more attentive to guests’ tastes.

“Playing on the sustainability motif of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’, we have created a new experience at The Strand – ‘Recharge, Refuel, Refresh’.

“A great meal will recharge your soul, offer more energy and refuel your body through healthy, creative flavour compositions.

“Our dishes are designed to leave a lasting feeling, being not just food, but energy – leaving you feeling recharged, refuelled and refreshed, and wanting to come back,” said Scaife.

Knai Bang Chatt general manager Estelle Bergandi says the qualities that make Scaife a top chef are embodied in the resort’s refreshed menu.

“His resilience, adaptability and creativity during a difficult time is reflected in the new menus. There’s a bond among the kitchen staff, and that is because he leads by example,” said Bergandi.

Internationally certified sustainable, Knai Bang Chatt resort is a “barefoot” luxury resort right on the coast in Kep that focuses on offering “guilt free” experiences that are meaningful and rewarding.

“As we weathered the Covid storm, we found the foodies, they were there, but more importantly we found happy guests – and this is something we want to bring to as many people as possible.

“We offer a more cerebral experience at The Strand, which is an all-day kitchen from where we conduct breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the heart of our F&B operations at the resort.

“It is about ‘dialled-down dining’, a place to feed the soul and experience culinary delights, to remove yourself from the noise of day-to-day life. We focus on local flavours and international cooking techniques, as well as unique local ingredients,” said Scaife.

The Sailing Club Restaurant and Lounge – set in a restored traditional wooden fisherman’s cottage – has a casual atmosphere, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy Kep’s stunning sunsets.

“The Sailing Club is a must-see attraction when you come to Kep. It has a larger appeal due to its menu variety and smaller price points.

“It appeals to couples as well as families. With an extensive menu of local seafood and tasty Western favourites, the food is more approachable,” said Scaife.

The Sailing Club is the perfect place to enjoy Kep’s stunning sunsets. SUPPLIED

Scaife says the recharge, refuel and refresh experience is an evolution from his “taste, texture and feel” philosophy.

“My cooking philosophy has always been about ‘taste, texture and feel’. Taste allows you, as a chef to continue the pursuit of perfection. Texture is how you craft the taste and enhance the experience of food, creating different sensations for the palate.

“Feel has a double meaning. A chef can feel when the food is great, can feel the flavours coming together – and the guests feel good experiencing that.

“Food is fuel for our body, but it will always make us feel good.

And I want my food to take you away in the same way as the resort’s breathtaking architecture and setting does,” Scaife said.

Knai Bang Chatt is one of only a few hotels in the world to have earned the highest platinum standard from GreenGrowth 2050, a Global Sustainable Tourism council recognised standard.

Using simple techniques such as upcycling, recycling and composting, the resort ensures that around 70 per cent of its waste does not end up in a landfill, while the majority of the produce used in its menus is grown in the garden on-site.“Sustainability means that not only do you think about menu composition and sales, you think about impact. Impact on your community, on your industry.

Executive chef Jay Scaife. SUPPLIED

“How can I maximise this potato to be more than just a side dish? Where do the peels go? What benefit will they have if we compost them.

“A sustainable environment allows more freedom to a chef. It keeps the creative side striving forward,” Scaife said.

And Scaife says the new menu at the Strand represents what he sees a shift in the fine dining experience, one with sustainability at its core.

“The future of fine dining is, in my opinion, chefs broadening their skills to become more accessible. Utilising their creative talents on more commonly known ingredients, making them more of star.

“A chef’s journey really is a quest to become a farmer. To be in control of all the ingredients in their kitchen, from seed to table.

“And the best part, being more accessible, fine dining does not have to carry a heavy price tag anymore – it is luxury, unplugged, but the skill is still on display,” he said.