Queen Mother Hosts Chef Nak in Celebration of Cambodian Culinary Excellence

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Jan. 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Chef Nak, an acclaimed culinary pioneer and author of the award-winning cookbook “SAOY – Royal Cambodian Home Cuisine,” has been granted an audience by Her Majesty Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. The meeting recognizes Chef Nak’s extraordinary contributions to Cambodian culinary heritage and cultural preservation.

“Writing and documenting these recipes and ingredients was an incredible experience. Every dish and ingredient taught me something new, including previously unknown stories. I’m honored to help preserve and promote Cambodian culinary heritage.” – Samnang HENG, the book’s editor and translator.

The Queen Mother continues to inspire and empower future generations, encouraging them to preserve and improve Cambodian cuisine. She recognizes Chef Nak and her team’s important role in restoring culinary traditions shattered by war, especially the restoration of royal cuisine.

Sovann Reaksmey KHIEV, the layout designer, stated, “Creating the book was a work of passion and endless devotion. Each page was deliberately designed to highlight the beauty of our culinary history. I’m pleased to have been a part of this wonderful effort.

Chef Nak’s culinary expertise and dedication have earned her international acclaim, with her cookbook “SAOY” receiving multiple nominations and winning the prestigious “Best Cookbook In The World” competition at The Gourmand Award Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 28, 2023.

SAOY offers the reader the experience of Cambodian royal cuisine, which, in contrast to other traditional Cambodian dishes, uses many rich ingredients and integrates foreign influences. Nearly all the recipes come from Princess Norodom Rasmi Sobbhana, who was a favorite aunt of King Sihanouk. The king, like his aunt, enjoyed cooking Khmer cuisine. The princess’s international prestige as a proponent of Cambodian cuisine and women’s rights is evidenced in the photo of her in SAOY in the Oval Office during a private audience with John F. Kennedy, just weeks before the president’s assassination.

“It is a tremendous privilege to have met the Queen Mother. When I started working on the SAOY project, I had no clue where it would go. This recognition is an excellent example of how our devotion and hard work may be rewarded.” Min LY (Lamo), photographer.

This generous audience with the Queen Mother highlights the significance of the younger generation’s dedication to preserving, developing, and promoting the essence of Cambodian culinary and cultural heritage.

At the meeting, Her Majesty the Queen Mother described her meeting with Chef Nak and her team as family-like. She mentioned that the late King Father and his aunt, Princess Norodom Ket Kanya (Mom), liked cooking. Her Majesty commended Chef Nak’s cookbook as unique and wonderful. The Queen Mother recognized these young people’s outstanding achievements, emphasized their contributions to national identity, and expressed her delight in seeing Cambodian cuisine flourish alongside other countries.

“It means everything to me to meet the Queen Mother; I’ve only seen her on television and social media. I’m overjoyed that she admires our work. I will be inspired to accomplish more.” – Serey SOT, artist and designer.

During her visit with the Queen Mother, Chef Nak expressed heartfelt gratitude for this honor and pledged to elevate Cambodian cuisine on the global stage. She looks forward to learning more about and continuing to promote the preservation of Cambodian culinary traditions.

I am very pleased and honored to have the opportunity to meet Her Majesty the Queen Mother. This recognition motivates me to continue fighting and put our unique culinary heritage on the global stage.” – Chef Nak.

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