We were all getting ready for our Regional Technical and Sales Meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I would be showing our Pizza Panko product at the session and had very little time to pull it all together before we jumped on a plane to Cambodia. Back in the States I can make a pizza with my eyes closed. Here in Bangkok? Not so easy. Trying to find a canned pizza sauce was nearly impossible and locating a tomato sauce that I could try to turn into a pizza sauce was just as difficult. Sourcing the mozzarella cheese and pepperoni to complete the pizza build was an unbelievable chore. In the end though, I managed to find workable ingredients.
The first meeting day was made up mostly of PowerPoint presentations, of which I participated in by giving a short overview of Pizza Panko. For dinner that evening, we went out to a local restaurant to experience traditional Khmer foods. They are similar to Thai food but not nearly as spicy and seemed to incorporate more river fish than the Thai. It was good, but I guess I was expecting more.
After dinner we took in some of the night-life and went to see the Night Market and Pub Street. They are two very touristy places with lots of souvenir and gift shops, along with a few pubs. It was an interesting time but didn’t stay too late as there were more meetings and a trip to famous Angkor Wat the next day.
After a half day of presentations we were treated to a tour of the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and a trip down the Tonlé Sap, a huge river and lake system that is very important to the people of Cambodia. Angkor Wat is a magnificent temple in the middle of the jungle that was built over a thousand years ago by a Khmer King. Pulling up to it was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. We went on a guided tour of this massive structure and got a very detailed history of the site.
After the tour we got on a bus and drove to Tonlé Sap. There, we went on a boat ride and saw the floating homes of the Vietnamese people who helped the Cambodians defeat the Khmer Rouge. The tour included a very sad and detailed account of the genocide that took place in Cambodia only a few decades ago. It was a beautiful place that was just now recovering from some very bad atrocities.
The last day of meetings was a very interesting one. Chef Hayden (Newly Weds Foods, Australia) and I were allocated 30 minutes to give a culinary insights presentation. We decided that since we’re in Cambodia we should feed the group BUGS!!! It was just a few scorpions, tarantulas and deep fried crickets, no big deal, right? Hands down, my favorite part of the whole trip was watching my co-workers take a bite of these crispy crunchy bugs I cooked them. After torturing the entire group, we had free time to explore Cambodia. The Thai sales team took me in as one of their own and we went on a guided tour of more ancient Khmer ruins.
We got in a small van and were taken to Angkor Thom, the great capital city of the Khmer empire. It was a very large stone structure that was built over 700 years ago and had huge faces of the king and queens built into it. It was another breathtaking and amazing place. From there we went to Ta Phrom, a very old and just phenomenal temple. However, this one was a little different in that it was not fully reconstructed and had been left with huge trees and crumbled ruins. It had been used as an actual set for the movie Tomb Raider. After our time there, we headed back to the resort to pack up and head home the next morning.
Brian Brindza is a Chicago based Newly Weds Foods chef who for a few months will be working out of the Thailand R&D center and providing culinary support and coverage in the Asia/Pacific region. Not only will he be exposed to new trends and ingredients from that part of the world but, he will be sharing his knowledge of US food trends with the group over there. This exchange of ideas is at the core of Newly Weds Foods commitment to bring new tastes from all over the world to your product portfolio. Follow Brian as he experiences Thailand and other locales first hand.