Globetrotting chef brings fresh flavours to Sofitel

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A deliciously deconstructed then reconstructed rack of lamb cooked by new Sofitel chef Maurizio Susan. Nicky Sullivan

Globetrotting chef brings fresh flavours to Sofitel

Chef Muraizio Susan has picked up five languages while cooking cuisine that’s ‘traditional with a modern twist’ all across the globe

Fresh, creative, contemporary food based on Italian fundamentals is set to be the theme on the menus at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort once new executive chef Maurizio Susan hits his stride.

The Italian chef arrived just two weeks ago, and has already been busy exploring Siem Reap’s markets and hot foodspots, looking for inspirations to mix up in his inventive mind.

Those with a sweet tooth will be especially rewarded based on what Post Weekend has seen so far, though vegetarians should beware. This man might turn you.

Susan hails from Trieste in northern Italy, where he was first exposed to cooking in his parent’s small, local restaurant.

“It’s the kind of place that doesn’t have a menu,” he said. “Just whatever is fresh in the market that day.”

That emphasis on freshness, seasonality and the quality of the ingredients still guides him today, albeit in slightly more salubrious surroundings.

“It’s all about that basis, the quality of the ingredients,” he said, before adding like a true Italian, “look at homemade pasta.

You take just three simple ingredients, but with them you can create this amazing thing.”

That favourite thing happens to be his go-to when he’s at home, of which he says, “It’s not the sauce that makes a pasta dish, it’s really all about the pasta itself.”

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Chef Maurizio Susan is bringing an emphasis on freshness to the Sofitel. Nicky Sullivan

But when he is in his pristine work kitchens, Susan’s creative flairs really start to shine.

Susan’s career has so far taken him across the globe, exposing him to influences far and wide, with stints in Austria, Germany, Spain, Hong Kong, Australia, the Maldives, the Dominican Republic, Dubai and Thailand.

Speaking five languages, so far, the polyglot’s mentors include the likes of Joël Robuchon, the “Chef of the Century” according to Gault et Millau, one of France’s most influential restaurant guides.

He has, however, held on to his roots, and describes his own cooking style as “traditional, with a modern twist”.

He does though believe that cooking is an art, not a science, and it’s easy to see how when you see his plates, and the way in which he enjoys taking things apart before putting them back together again.

At Sofitel this week, he served up a delicious menu headlined by a rack of lamb, which he deconstructed, seared, put through a sous-vide, and finally herbed and baked, before reassembling the pieces.

The result was an almost achingly tender trio of pink lamb, accompanied by potatoes dauphinoise and an apricot purée.

One of our dining companions, a long-term vegetarian, fell under its spell. There may be no turning back for her now.

The artist could further be found in dishes like a rich, creamy foie gras brulée topped with caramelised strawberries, and a startling strawberry gazpacho with ricotta ice-cream that preceded the main meal.

Susan says he’s looking forward to bringing more of his unique style to Siem Reap.

He’ll be keeping it French, and keeping it traditional, but who knows what twists and sweet turns he may throw in there too.

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