Cheffing in Cambodia: a blog by Richard Bias

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th February 2014
Should I stay or should I go…….Seabass,Khmer spices, cauliflower textures - Richard Bias 290114 076 A busy Christmas and two New Year’s eves/days have passed since my last posting; 2013 was a brilliant year and I have galloped into the ‘Year of the Horse’ just as emphatically as I ended the last. My hotel is a proud supporter of Sala Baï Hotel & Restaurant School which was founded in 2002 by the French NGO Agirpour le Cambodge:  entirely and exclusively meant for young Cambodians coming from underprivileged families. The vocational training taught at Sala Baï is clearly one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways of fighting poverty and human trafficking at the grass roots level. I was given the opportunity to spend two days in the kitchen with the students which finished with a fund raising dinner. The days were lots of fun and working with all of these young sponges around me reminded me of my keenness for knowledge when I was starting out just as they are. Sala Baï is a fantastic project and I hope to continue to support them well into the future. Great Chefs - Richard Bias 290114 121 (Medium)I believe I’m the first to coin the phrase, or maybe I’m just one of the first, to get “World Cup syndrome”. It’s been four years after all since South Africa 2010 and my six-week holiday is closing in. As per usual I have timed my contract impeccably and will have my last working day the week before I fly to Brazil for the ‘World Cup 2014’. Most contracts are for a two-year period and after eighteen months or so you begin to wonder what the future will hold. Should I stay or should I go? Did I achieve everything I set out to do? Am I happy in my location and feel motivated enough to carry on? So you weigh up the pros and cons of staying versus leaving to pastures greener. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t right? Not always. I am left with a few tricky months where I can’t really start the job hunt as July is just too far out. So I prepare my CV and make a photo shoot of my current up-to-date repertoire of dishes which highlight why I should be hired by a perspective employer. I begin to short-list locations and wonder why I would not continue in Cambodia: what is missing and what do I need from Garden pea royale, truffle arancini - Richard Bias 290114 100my next position to give me the challenges that will feed my personal ambitions. Leaving somewhere is always hard as friendships have been built, both in and outside of your workplace, you have become familiar with your surroundings and have a comfort zone which you have become used to, otherwise known as “The Bubble”. Well this bubble is about to burst and I am once again going to jump into the unknown! Where in the world will I be working and living next? I don’t know, but one thing is for certain: I will find plenty of culinary insprations in Brazil and I’m sure we will see some influence in my cooking in my next role wherever that may be!   Photos 018Richard Bias is the 32-year-old executive chef of a hotel in Siem Reap in Cambodia, a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the famous Angkor Wat temple complex. He previously worked in Sapa in Vietnam for three and half years and before that he had stints in Ireland Cambodia and Dubai including the world’s only seven star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. Richard originally comes from Harlow on the river Thames where as a child he helped out in the kitchen of the family pub. As a young chef Richard was a finalist in the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence, runner up in the first ever Gordon Ramsay Scholarship and winner of the Rungis Club UK’s Young Chef of the Year. Richard shares more of his experiences on his online blog ‘culinaryinspirations’.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th February 2014

Cheffing in Cambodia: a blog by Richard Bias