Thalias Hospitality

Interview & Thalias : Stefan Preese, Topaz TheCommune, a “French haute cuisine restaurant with Cambodian inspiration”

Stefan, Project Manager at Thalias Hospitality, discusses his latest project, Topaz TheCommune: a French haute cuisine restaurant located in Toul Kork

Tell us about your background

I have extensive experience in construction, project management and design for hotels and restaurants. I came in Cambodia 31 years ago and I also worked in Thailand and Singapore in the same field. My first project with Thalias was Malis Siem Reap, and my last is Topaz TheCommune 

How long did the project Topaz TheCommune take 

The design process began in 2022 and ended in December 2023. The first step was a consultation with the contractors to ensure we were achieving the desired outcome within the set budget through effective value engineering.

How many people were involved, including contractors? 

The main contractor for this project is Redfurnesse. They specialize in high-end interior fit-out in Cambodia for 30 years. In addition, we had a MEP contractor, kitchen specialists (cold room, inox and equipment suppliers), furniture and IT suppliers. There were eight contractors in total.  

Did the project face any challenges? 

Every project has challenges. Topaz TheCommune was an enjoyable challenge, because we had to build everything from scratch on a blank canvas.  

What was the initial idea for this project?  

We are delighted with Topaz Norodom, but we wanted to take it to the next level. We wanted to take Topaz Norodom and make it more elegant and refined. Topaz TheCommune is an evolution, a step forward

Feeling at home, in a nice environment of luxury and haute cuisine

Tell us about your design perspective 

The design is intended to create Topaz TheCommune as an extension of someone’s house, with a distinctive wooden framework reminiscent of traditional homes. This includes dark fine wood grains, concave wood and a herringbone wooden floor. We designed two walls to make our place unique – in a meeting room and on the entrance of the restaurant. We used texture spray paint with an olive tree sculpture made with cement. Regarding the restaurant, for the comfort of our guests, we have installed smart lighting and custom 100% wool Axminster carpets. Each room has custom made furniture and double glazing to save on energy consumption. One of the Topaz signature is our BERNARDAUD plates, which are porcelain made in France. 

How many dining rooms are there? 

The Commune has three dining areas: the Burgundy Room, Champagne room, and Alsace room. Saint-Emilion is our exclusive wine room for special occasion. Each room can be set up with many possibilities as a dining room, conference room or meeting room. In the top of that, we arrange a large and comfortable lounge area.

The Cave, a unique and original concept of wine cellar 
The Cave, a unique and original concept of wine cellar

Our wine cellar is set up in a very inspiring space, which we named “Saint-Emilion”. Our sommelier, Seyha HAK, who is one of the best in Cambodia, is here to guide you in your wine experience. This cellar is for wine education and customers can see, taste, and then buy the bottles at their own pace in a comfortable lounge with expert advice and recommendations from our sommelier. This is an original concept intended to educate the next generation of wine lovers. 

What inspired you to draw upon Khmer culture for this project? 

Our décor is heavily influenced by the beauty of Khmer culture. At the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a unique design inspired by the graceful hand gestures of the Apsara dancers, a key part of Kbach Angkor performances. This design reflects the spirit of the Topaz brand logo, with the movement of the hand that represents the word “flower” in Apsara dance. The hand

Step into the Champagne room and discover another cultural creation! Here, our design draws inspiration from the impressive stone carvings that adorn the walls of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon Temple. These carvings depict various aspects of life during the Khmer empire:

  • Grand buildings: Representing the power and wealth of the Khmer people.
  • A kitchen scene: Offering a glimpse into everyday life for ordinary people.
  • The tree of birds: A symbolic image of nature’s abundance.

By incorporating these cultural elements, we create a beautiful connection between the rich history of Khmer culture and the values of the Topaz brand.


For the Cambodian aspect, it’s a generational talent. Topaz is dedicated to bringing excellence to the next generation of young chefs, managers, and team players. This may be close to the perfection quest of magnificent Cambodian traditional dancers, whose hands motions are close to perfection. Finally, it’s a French restaurant with a distinct Cambodian je ne sais quoi.” 

Finally, are you fully satisfied with this project? 

I am extremely satisfied. We’re just finalising a few details, but I’m proud to say this is a great accomplishment. It’s not just about the design; it’s also about following the move of Topaz and how this famous brand sublimates French haute cuisine today and takes great care of his customers.
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