The Cambodian chapter of the gastronomical association Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Cambodian Bailliage, was launched in 2010 in Phnom Penh at So tel Hotel, bringing together people with a common appreciation of quality wines and fine dining.
The Cambodian Bailliage, as the Cambodian chapter of the organisation is known, gathers every month at venues such as Topaz and Red Apron and indulges in treats ranging from foie gras to premium tuna sh and marinated lamb.
The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international society, was founded in Paris in 1950, and its roots can be traced back as far as 1248 under King Louis XI. In an effort to show the appreciation for the trades which contributed to the construction of the Saint Chapelle, a royal medieval gothic chapel, the king established several guilds with the express purpose of improving the technical knowledge and skills of several trade sectors.
One guild that was created was called the “Oyeurs”, or goose roasters. Over time, the guild developed the culinary arts, meeting all the requirements of professionalism and quality demanded by the royal table.
By 1509, after centuries of honing their skills, the guild’s knowledge was extended to mastering the preparation of different meats, and the guild soon adopted the name “Rôtisseurs” (roasters).
It is from here the association grew over the centuries, becoming what is now known as the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. The association has proliferated and can now be found all over the world, including here in Cambodia. Members of the group gather to appreciate and indulge in fine dining, exquisite food and the nest wines.
As exquisite as the food and dining experience with the group is in Cambodia, it is anything but a closed group. Anyone with a keen interest and love of food can join. Currently, 50 per cent of the members are Cambodian and 50 per cent are foreigners. Among its members are owners and managers of fine-dining restaurants, a few ambassadors and others who just enjoy high class gastronomical experiences in the company of likeminded people.
“All members of the chapter have one thing in common: they all like good food and a good glass of wine,” Cambodian Bailliage president Peter Brongers said. They meet once a month at a range of venues, taking in the food and enjoying the company of fellow members. “The good life is enjoying the pleasures of the table; the food, the wine and friends, both old and new.”
Any restaurant the group visits has its kitchen prepare special dishes for the occasion, trying to impress the members with their culinary excellence. The association encourages chefs and restaurants to demonstrate the capacity and quality of their cooking. “The main focus of the dinners is to get the most out of the chef, to push and stimulate creativity with dishes the way it’s made and the way it’s presented,” Brongers explained.
The Cambodian Bailliage has indulged in some fine food as of late, from Chinese roasted goose at Yisang restaurant to fresh tuna flown in from the Tokyo Fish Market together with a Japanese master chef, a collection of Japanese oysters and some classic sakes at Kanji Japanese restaurant.
In celebration of the friendship among the group, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs held a dinner party at Malis restaurant near the Independence Monument last year. They closed the restaurant for the association, and the members were entertained by traditional Khmer dancers for the evening. About 30 people turned up, which is about the average for an event, Brongers said.
The last dinner that the Cambodian chapter held was in the mountains in Kampot at Starling Farm, where the group enjoyed lamb which had been marinated for a few days in wine accompanied by fresh crab and of course, some Kampot pepper.
The Cambodian Baillage is open to all, and it’s very simple to join in on the events. With a good mix of Cambodians, foreigners and wine, the group is sure to keep growing, as the association looks to welcome new members who want to take a bite out of the country’s fine dining scene.
“In the end, people who like good food and wine always bump into each other eventually. You go to the same functions and restaurants,” Brongers said.