Remarks by Chargé D’ Affaires Michael A. Newbill at the Closing Ceremony of U.S. Food Week

Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
(as prepared for delivery)

Welcome to the Closing Ceremony of U.S. Foods Week.  Thank you all for being here.  I would like to acknowledge HE Vath Chamroeun from the Ministry of Tourism for attending this evening.

What is American cuisine? Hot dogs? Pizza? Buffalo wings? Tacos? Hoagies? A chili bacon double cheeseburger? Well, yes, those are all popular dishes in America and around the world.  But in the last few decades, America has come a long way in its love for sophisticated, healthy, creative cooking, using our abundant and fertile farms and ranches, and taking in influences from all over the world.  Because we are such a diverse culture, our many cuisines draw from the unique riches of America, but combine them with regional and international flavors.

A few decades ago, America was not known for its cuisine and food culture. But if you haven’t eaten in America for a long time, you’ll be surprised at the food and restaurant culture that has enveloped every city and town across the country.  In the 1990s, creative foodies started a revolution in craft beer making, distilled spirits and wine that’s been felt worldwide; we are now proud of our many cuisines and ingredients, and we are excited by the opportunity to showcase some of them in Phnom Penh during U.S. Food Week.

They say that the easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.  So, I know that we must have won over a great number of the people who sampled some of the delicious, high-quality U.S. foods that made this event so successful.

In addition, U.S. Food Week demonstrates the growing trade ties between the United States and Cambodia. Cambodians are eager to try U.S. products and taste American food.  We hope to see more U.S. agriculture and food products in Cambodia’s restaurants, supermarkets, and on the dining tables in Cambodian homes, as our economic relationship grows.

To recap briefly, U.S. Foods Week included:

  • A kickoff event where guests sampled food featuring U.S. beef, potatoes, beans, pulses, and California raisins,
  • S. food menu promotions in 16 leading restaurants,
  • Restaurant training by the Culinary Institute of America and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and,
  • A Young Chef Competition, involving eight young Cambodian chefs from Phnom Penh restaurants and hotels.

I will announce the winners of the Young Chef competition and some other special awards in just a minute, but first I would like to thank all of those involved in U.S. Food Week, without whom this event would not have been possible.

  • First, the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia, who helped plan this event, hosted the training workshops, and organized and conducted the Young Chef Competition. Thank you especially to founder Pierre Tami and Marcus Kalberer (Dean).
  • The Cambodian Tourism Federation, who helped recruit restaurants for the menu promotions, especially the President, Luu Meng.
  • The American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, who also played a key role in promoting U.S. Food Week and bringing in additional restaurants.
  • The five participating U.S. industry groups including: the U.S. Dry Bean Council, Potatoes USA, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, and California Raisins.
  • The Office of the Foreign Agricultural Service from the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, who provided support for U.S. Food Week, and our own Economic staff at the Embassy here in Phnom Penh, who helped to plan and publicize all the activities.
  • And, finally, I would like to extend a special thank you to all of the importers of U.S. products that helped to make this program a success. We have a special certificate for you, so please come up to the stage when I call your name:

– Ng Chor Yee, LSH Cambodia

– Vincent Ng – CEO, Auskhmer Cambodia

– Managing Director of Thai Huot Trading Co., Ltd. (TBA)

– Managing Director of Lee’s Foodservice Ltd. (TBA)

– Pily Wong, CEO, Hung Hiep (Cambodia) Co., Ltd.

– Managing Director of Les Celliers d’Asia (TBA)

Now, I want to recognize and present a certificate to representatives from the 16 restaurants that developed special menus for U.S. Food Week.  Thank you for your participation. When I call your restaurant’s name, will you please come up?

  • Yi Sang Riverside
  • Yi Sang Sothearos
  • World Dining
  • Kan Ji
  • Sevensea
  • Uy Kuyteav
  • Kwest
  • New York Steakhouse
  • Ocean Prime Steakhouse
  • Topaz
  • Blue Sky
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Terrazza
  • Hub Street Cocktails
  • Botanico Wine & Beer Garden
  • Exchange

Now, it is time give some special prizes to the restaurants that participated in the menu promotions.

First, on December 1st and 2nd, a team of judges visited 14 participating restaurants to taste the dishes that were prepared for the menu promotions to determine which of the restaurants should receive special awards.

Based on the visits and sampling, the winning restaurants are as follows.

  • Most creative use of U.S. beef: Yisang Riverside Restaurant
  • Most creative use of California Raisins: KWEST Restaurant
  • Most creative use of U.S. potatoes: Blue Sky Restaurant
  • Most creative use of U.S. dry peas: Topaz Restaurant
  • Most creative use of U.S. dry beans: KWEST Restaurant

Finally, the last set of awards is for the winners of the Young Chef Competition!  This competition took place last week at ACAC, and was judged by a panel of three judges including our own Col. Stelzig.  Eight young chefs prepared a main dish, consisting of U.S. Prime Beef Chuck Eye Roll, U.S. dried chickpeas, U.S. dried pinto beans, U.S. Hash brown potatos and California black seedless raisins.

First, let’s acknowledge all of the talented young competitors. Please come to the stage to accept your certificate.

  • Rim Souvourn
  • Chhoeun Kim Hong
  • Chea Vannak
  • Lay Sreyroth
  • San Sovideth
  • Song Sambath
  • Kon Vanna
  • Ou Rachana

And, the winners are:

  • 3rd place, the bronze medal, goes to Kon Vanna
  • 2nd place, the silver medal goes to Ou Rachana
  • 1st place, our gold medal winner, is Lay Sreyroth

Finally, there are some special awards from our U.S. cooperators:

  • The most creative use of U.S. Meat: Lay Sreyroth
  • The most creative use of U.S. Dried Chickpeas: Chea Vannak
  • The most creative use of U.S. Dried Pinto Beans: Kon Vanna
  • The most creative use of Hash Brown Potatoes USA: Ou Rachana
  • The most creative use of California Raisins: Chhoeun Kim Hong

Congratulations to our winners!  And, thank you again to all of the participating chefs and restaurants who created these delicious dishes using these high-quality and versatile U.S. ingredients. With that, I would like to conclude the formal part of tonight’s program. It has been a great event, made possible by the strong partnership between Cambodian importers, restaurants and the U.S. food industry.

Thanks again for coming.