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Essentially Khmer

With TIM Pheak, new Templation Executive Chef, the future of Cambodian cuisine is here, at the gates of Angkor.

by Living Cambodia Team, 07 Jan. 2019

When he's not sourcing the freshest products for the distribution company (Fresh Food Supply Cambodia) he has cofounded, or actively promoting the renewal of Cambodian street food within the Cambodian Chefs Association, the young man with a shy smile and alert eyes perfects his take on ancestral Khmer recipes that will delightTemplation Angkorguests.

Today at breakfast, we had his version of the so-Cambodian kuy teav, the rice noodle soup in which he has eschewed the usual (and a bit boring) lettuce leaves to add more fresh herbs and aquatic sprouts. Later during the day by the resort's lake-like swimming pool, there will be a samlor proher trey, where Peak's subtle mam (fermented seafood) ideally complements seabass fillets and pumpkin fritters.

Alongside a bright new generation of young local chefs -- Chef Mengly at Pou Restaurant, SOK Kimsan at Embassy, RY Dimanch at Siem Reap Brewpub, to mention a few), TIM Pheak, discreetly yet boldly, is reinventing a Cambodian cuisine that has been for too long considered as the humble cousin of Thai and Vietnamese culinary giants.

"We apply modern cooking techniques for crispier renditions", remarks Pheak during our tasting lunch, "but essentially we get our inspiration from our moms' and aunts' recipes. For instance, the use of edible flowers seems to be a big fad everywhere, nowadays, yet they've always been an important part of the Cambodian diet."

The Templation Chef already has a brilliant career behind him, through kitchens as prestigious as the ones he worked in the Maldives or Sri Lanka, at Siem Reap's Sofitel and Jaya House more recently. And as in the photo below (with his wife, Chenda), the track to an even brighter future seems wide open...