Kep Chuktema Says Let Them Eat Ansam Cake

As a 54-second television advertisement promoting this month’s Cambodian cake and dessert festival came to an end at an event planning meeting yesterday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema could not help but ask: “Where is the Ansam [sticky rice] cake?”

But his suggestions for how the advertisement should run did not stop there. “We should have added…Cambodian noodles and at the end we should show the palm sugar producers and the palm tree climbers,” he said, adding that the advertisement would have to be changed before it aired.

It is obvious that Cambodian desserts stir the passions within even the most prominent politicians, but officials said yesterday that the goal of the three-day festival starting Sept 24 was to promote Cambodian cuisine ahead of the 2011 Asean Tourism Forum, the regional travel conference to be held in Phnom Penh from Jan 15 to 21.

Mr Chuktema said yesterday that City Hall had agreed to spend roughly $20,000 on the promotion and running of the festival on Koh Pich island, which will include the presentation of cakes and desserts from around Cambodia.

“This is the first time [cakes and desserts] have been shown and I believe that many people will be interested,” he said. During yesterday’s festival meeting, he told municipal officials to invite guests from Phnom Penh hotels and tourist groups to bolster the number of festival visitors.

Deputy governor Nuon Sameth said yesterday that 34 vendors had signed up to sell 24 different cakes and desserts at the festival, but admitted that two further suggestions from Mr Chuktema would have to be added to the list.

“So [now] we have 26 different cake and desserts to show,” he said, adding that cake and dessert makers from 12 provinces would be involved in the festival.

Last week, Tourism Minister Thong Khon briefed tourism industry members on a government plan to promote Cambodia with TV spots, print advertisements and a heightened Internet presence in the lead up to the Asean Tourism Forum.


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