Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A restaurant well worth the wait



A restaurant well worth the wait

Egbok is now training chefs. Sarah Rhodes
Egbok is now training chefs. Sarah Rhodes

A restaurant well worth the wait

One of Cambodia’s leading hospitality training schools has opened a full-service restaurant in Siem Reap, after a decade of staffing local businesses with its talented graduates. It’s the first time the students will have the opportunity to train as chefs.

Spoons, which is run by Egbok Mission, serves high-quality Cambodian food with a unique flair; the young chefs are encouraged to get creative with the dishes on the menu. The operation is overseen by Michael Sands, a Chicago-born chef with 32 years of experience.

The restaurant will operate as an extension of the classroom for trainees, who spend a year with an expert team developing their skills, from understanding flavours to managing waitstaff. Competition for placement was fierce: for the first class, 45 students were shortlisted for just five positions.

At Spoons, guests dine in a high-ceilinged, open-air space in easy view of the kitchen. The project is a collaboration from across Cambodia: Brown Coffee donated the espresso machine.

Architects Bambusa Global Ventures designed the custom structure, which is made out of sustainable bamboo. And Phnom Penh-based artist Chhoun Vichheka and his team executed the decor behind the bar, which features his characteristic doodles, with an added splash of colour.

“The generosity of spirit and collaboration shown by the community made the café possible,” says Osman Khawaja, Egbok’s executive director.

Egbok was founded by American Ben Justus in 2009 to provide opportunities for young adults leaving Siem Reap’s orphanages. Early on, he partnered with other local training organisations and collaborated with many of Siem Reap’s large hotels on standards for staff. As a result, Egbok’s hospitality training program has evolved to become what could be one of the strongest in the region.

Recruits begin with housekeeping training, including work experience and English lessons, followed by modules in restaurant service. Trainees can explore particular interests – serving as a barista or a wine sommelier, for example – at Egbok’s partner businesses.

But the organisation has never had its own training restaurant. When Khawaja came on board four years ago, he says one of his earliest visions was to develop one.

Trainees are prepared for high standards before enrolment in Egbok’s program, with good reason. “We have a zero drop-out rate,” says Khawaja. “One hundred percent of our students get a job within a month of graduating.”

And now, these students are running the kitchen. It’s well worth checking out.

Spoons is open for lunch from 11am to 3pm, with plans for dinner service in December.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of