Chef Nak’s ‘saoy’, Crowned Best cookbook in the World

Cambodian cuisine has been thrown into the global spotlight after Chef Nak’s book that reinvents royal cuisine won three awards, including best of the best, at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Cambodia’s leading female celebrity chef, Chef Nak, has planted Cambodian cuisine on the international map after ‘SAOY: Royal Cambodian Cuisine’ scooped three awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Rotanak Ros, affectionately known as Chef Nak, was in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on November 28 for the prestigious awards ceremony. Out of 205 countries, ‘SAOY’ was crowned the winner in the Best of the Best, Asian Books, and Heads of State categories.

‘SAOY’ caught the judges’ eyes due to it being more than a cookbook. The 220-page book takes readers on a journey back in time to reinvent the royal recipes of Princess Norodom Rasmi Sobbhana between 1950 and 1970.

In addition to mouth-watering recipes that showcase Cambodian cuisine, the book is full of colorful illustrations, photographs and anecdotes that celebrate Cambodia’s rich heritage.

Self-taught Chef Nak said that the book, which was released in May, is the result of four years of work. She added that it forms part of her company Chef Nak’s offerings in addition to fine dining experiences, cooking classes, a homestay and restaurant consultancy.

“We broaden our passion for culinary art through unique services in addition to publishing cookbooks and creating engaging social media content to preserve and promote the rich tapestry of Cambodian cuisines,” said Chef Nak.

Serey Sot, the book’s designer and illustrator, added, “I never imagined winning prizes when I started this project. Working with a few friends who value cuisine, art, and culture was my goal. Now, the Gourmand Awards recognition is above my expectations. It’s a reminder that even the simple joy of food deserves to be celebrated.”

The Riyadh Gourmand Awards Ceremony forms a part of Saudi Feast Food Festival, the Middle East’s largest culinary event, which took place from November 27 to 29.

La Mo, artist and photographer, said, “It brings me great pleasure to share the remarkable success of the book with our nation. This endeavor has truly been a labor of love, and I echo the sentiment of ‘work from the heart’.”

Supported by Hun Many, president of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), the author, photographer, designer, and director of the book traveled to Riyadh for the ceremony and to represent Cambodia on the international stage.

“This book is a treasure,” said Robert Cutler, managing director of Narrowcasters. “It’s simply beautiful to look at. Chef Nak will teach you how to cook beautiful, delicious, royal Khmer cuisine; and Chef Nak’s love for the villagers who taught her their wonderful recipes is also beautiful.”

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