Cambodia & Gastronomy – training: The immense happiness of new chefs

Many happy faces, a few tears of happiness and a very contagious joy, both among the newly graduated students and among the trainers of the Academy of Culinary Arts of Cambodia during the graduation ceremony which took place yesterday at the Grand Hall of Peng Huoth.

Phnom Penh – Peng Huoth Grand Hall – Thursday September 21, 2023: the atmosphere is still very subdued in this immense hall with disproportionate columns and “capitol” architecture. The Academy students arrive discreetly in small groups, smiling, happy and struggling to hide their impatience to receive their new chef’s hat and their beautiful diploma.


Some take selfies with the famous chef Nake, a regular speaker at the Academy, others guide their parents who have come to witness this moment of great family pride. Bruno Cardone, the dean of the Academy and Luu Meng, President of the Professional Institute of Excellence (PIE), are busy ensuring that everything is perfectly in place for the parents, students and guest personalities for this ceremony. A few journalists hand the microphone to very confident students, who do not hesitate to share their impressions and their immense joy.

At 2 p.m., Raksemy, director of the Cambodia Restaurant Association (CRA), sounds the alarm, the personalities have arrived and the students sit down religiously, ready to listen to the guests’ speeches.

Among them are, of course, Bruno Cardone, Luu Meng, but also Mr. KY Sokkim, CEO of the Skills Development Fund (FSD) and Mr. Din Somethearith, Secretary General of the “Professional Institute of Excellence” (PIE) association. ).

Also attending this event as guests of honor: Mr. Pierre Tami, co-founder of the Academy of Culinary Arts of Cambodia, Ms. Nancy Chau, co-founder of the Academy of Culinary Arts of Cambodia , Chef Song Teng of the “Cambodia Chef Society”, Ms. Makara Yi Vice President of the Cambodia Hotel Association and Denise Lum of the CRA.

Bruno Cardone, Dean of the Academy
Bruno Cardone, Dean of the Academy

During his speech, the young dean Cardone will not fail to congratulate the students of this promotion whose curriculum has been disrupted by the effects of the pandemic, but will also insist on “the need to learn, always and again, and to love your job.”

Innovation and diversity

 “I have the honor today of delivering the graduation speech to this incredible class of students. Let’s start with a note of thanks to those who undertook their studies during the pandemic period and to others who subsequently successfully completed their course. Studies were disrupted and schedules were frequently affected by changes. It was not an easy time and that is why I would like to congratulate you for being able to stay focused and being able to successfully complete your studies,” he said, continuing:

“As dean and professor, I must add a few notes of encouragement and advice”

“Having spent quite a bit of time together during lessons and exercises, I would like to focus on the main points that you may want to remember and that we have all learned over the past few years at ACAC: First, you need to keep an eye on innovation and be open to diversity. Being innovative while respecting and being aware of the traditions and heritage you are part of will allow you to become strong professionals.”

“Good chefs know how to cook, extraordinary chefs are able to transform food into an experience and a story that customers will remember. », he proclaimed, adding:

“So don’t forget where you come from, learn the basics and don’t forget to tell the story through the dishes you cook”

“Next, always be aware of the quality of your work and your skills, two components that will allow you to progress quickly and regularly in the ranks of our profession. Once you have obtained your diplomas, don’t forget to train, practice makes you a blacksmith! »

“Finally, remember that cooking is about feelings and self-expression. While cooking, you will experience failure, pressure, competition and difficult times. Therefore, if you plan to stay in this environment for a good part of your life, you need to be able to ‘deal “.

Remember to have fun while working and stay positive. Dear students, I wish you all from the bottom of my heart good luck and great success,” concluded Mr. Cardone before giving the floor to Luu Meng. Same encouragement and some additional advice on cleanliness, hygiene, presentation and the work environment. Mr. Meng also specified that the majority of students already had a job offer and that the success rate for this promotion was 98%.

Luu Meng, President of the Professional Institute of Excellence
Luu Meng, President of the Professional Institute of Excellence

Mr. Meng specified that 67 students received their diplomas today and that 36 of them were women, a development “in keeping with the times and which shows that the profession of chef is accessible to all those who know how to demonstrate of passion and determination.”

KY Sokkim will then not fail to congratulate the work of the students and their accomplishment, but also to highlight the success of this academic project, an initiative which brings together local and foreign skills, carried out with professionalism and commitment, and which perfectly meets the growing needs of the catering and hospitality sector in the Kingdom.

The immense happiness of the new chef(s)
The immense happiness of the new chef(s)

After a few words from the student representative who announced with both arms raised: “We did it – We did it”, then came the long-awaited moment of the graduation, an intense moment of joy and pride which made pleasure to see.

During the coffee break served in the lobby of the main hall, discussions were going well. We talk about career, the little apprehension before diving into working life even if the course also included an internship in a company.

For many, it was this internship, and the excellent impression they left, that allowed them to land their first job. From Monday some will join the Rosewood and others the Mariott… proof that the theoretical and practical training offered by the ACAC becomes synonymous with excellence and that the talents produced by this training establishment are recognized by the most illustrious brands in the sector in the country.

Among the motivations that led these young people to pursue a career in cooking, some simply cite the pleasure of cooking, others mention family influence or even the desire to evolve in a “creative” profession that allows you to travel. . One thing they have in common is that they are all passionate, definitely happy and eager to put their talents at the service of the country.

The big family of the ACAC 2023 class
The big family of the ACAC 2023 class

Finally, after a final series of photos in front of the imposing Grand Hall, chef Luu Meng then offered an – impressive – tour of the 3,000 m2 kitchens of the establishment specializing in major events and boasting ultra-modern equipment such as pots, cooling systems and computer-controlled grills.

Guided tour of the kitchens of the Great Hall of Peng Huoth
Guided tour of the kitchens of the Great Hall of Peng Huoth

Then each of the students left with their bouquet of flowers, their diploma under their arm and this famous chef’s hat that they dreamed of for two years. On Monday, for many of them, a new and equally exciting adventure awaits them with their entry into working life. Great promotion, incredible happiness and splendid illustration of the saying displayed in giant letters on the screen during the ceremony:

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”


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