The 10-day US Foods Week, which demonstrated the rising demand for American food among Cambodians and chefs, ended on Wednesday in style with an award presentation ceremony.
More than a dozen awards were given away to restaurants that developed special menus for the US Foods Week and winners of the Young Chef Competition at the event which was held at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh.
The Yisang Riverside Restaurant was awarded for the most creative use of US beef, KWEST Restaurant for using California raisins and dry beans, Blue Sky for creative use of US potatoes and Topaz Restaurant for using US dry peas.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Micheal A. Newbill, Charge D’ Affaires at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, said US food was not as popular at an international level a few decades ago, but this started to change in the 1990s as creative food presentations managed to capture foodies from around the globe and Cambodia can attest to this.
“US Foods Week demonstrates the growing trade ties between the United States and Cambodia. Cambodians are eager to try US products and taste American food."
“We hope to see more US agriculture and food products in Cambodia’s restaurants, supermarkets and on the dining tables in Cambodian homes, as our relationship continues to grow,” said Newbill.
US Foods Week has become an annual affair due to the growing interest among food industry players and consumers.
The event kicked off at the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia (ACAC) on November 30.
It brought together young, talented chefs who participated in two technical training workshops as well as 16 restaurants who promoted the event by using US imported food products, such as beef, potatoes and California raisins as part of their ingredients.
Secretary of State of the Ministry of Tourism, Vath Chamroeum, who was the special guest, said the event did not only promote US food products but also unearthed local talents.
“Cambodia is becoming an important food market for the US in the last five years due to the growing demand for US food products."
“The value of imported food items have also almost doubled compared to 2013.”
“The growing demand is also due to the increase in tourist inflows to Cambodia,” he said.
US food imports into Cambodiahad increased from $10.3 million in 2013 to $19.6 million last year and the rise was attributed to the growth in the number of qualified chefs, who acquired specialised skills to cater to the diversified demands of Cambodian consumers.
Items such as US beef, potatoes, dry peas, lentils, chickpea, dry beans and California raisins were some of the hot items on importers’ lists.
The US Foods Week showcased a variety of activities, from food sampling and promotions of US food and wines in Phnom Penh, and a team of judges visited participating restaurants from 1 to December 9.
The Young Chefs Competition took place at the ACAC on December 4, where budding chefs from restaurants and hotels from Phnom Penh were invited to showcase their skills in preparing dishes that featured US food ingredients.
Eight chefs prepared a main dish that used beef, frozen potatoes, California raisins and pulses from the US.
The technical training workshops saw more than 20 chefs participating in each workshop. The worksops were organised by the US Meat Export Federation and the Culinary Institute of America.
“It has been a great event made possible by the strong partnership between Cambodian importers, restaurants and the US food industry. There is growing taste among well-travelled Cambodians (for US food) who have been exposed to foreign cuisines."
“We will make it a bigger and betterevent next year,” added Newbill, who presented the awards to the respective winners.